10 - Prachi Desai (Rock On)
Her foray into the big screen was much welcomed with Rock On. An unconventional way to begin her Bollywood innings, what with playing the part of a married woman and no romantic angle per se, Prachi Desai was courageous enough to take a plunge into a film that had a director (Abhishek Kapoor) with a flop tag (Aryan - The Unbrekable) to his name. Still, with people like Farhan Akhtar, Ritesh Sidhwani, Shanka, Ehsaan and Loy attached to the project, she got herself a start with Rock On. The ploy worked and how! With a restrained performance, she was the person who got a certain 'thehrav' to the rocking proceedings of Rock On. The million dollar question is - 'Will she be able to be a part of the glam brigade from here on?'
9 - Ehsaas Channa (Phoonk)
The youngest of the lot, Ehsaas impressed one and all with her performance of a girl who was possessed due to black magic at work. Coming up with one of the most intense performances of the year, Ehsaas was a revelation as a girl actor after working in quite a few films where she was required to portray a boy. One wonders how she would have worked upon her psyche after being a part of cinema where her character was required to go through tumultuous times. Director Ram Gopal Varma yet again succeeded in extracting a brilliant performance out of an actor and one now looks forward to how this girl would announce her arrival as a lead actress a decade from now.
8 - Adah Sharma (1920)
It was the year when possessed females made an impression on the big screen. If Ehsaas was psyched, Adah Sharma was indeed scary, what with her character being almost a cannibal in appeal. Made to play a part which could turn violent, riotus, frightened and ferocious at regular intervals, Adah surprised in this horror flick by Vikram Bhatt. Not just she helped the director break the jinx of a dozen odd flops that he had delivered before 1920, she also announced an arrival, albeit a low key, to Bollywood. Though she was mostly non-glam in 1920 and was made to wear the costumes that were in vogue a century ago, one looks forward to see her look entirely different in the upcoming films of hers that are set in contemporary times.
7 - Asin (Ghajini)
She has worked in more than a dozen odd films down South but had to wait a while before the best opportunity came her way in the form of Ghajini. Though she had to recreate the emotions of the original 'Ghajini' in which she had already starred, she did it with full gusto in the reprised version as well. Going through a gamut of emotions that required her to be naughty as well as emotional at heart, she didn't disappoint. Her most remembered scenes would the light hearted ones that she shared with Aamir and her death scene. However, one waits to see many more histrionics from her in her upcoming films. A little more touch of glamour would only help the cause.
6 - Bipasha Basu (Race, Bachna Ae Haseeno)
While newcomers like Prachi, Adah and Asin were busy knocking the doors of Bollywood, Bipasha Basu continued her femme fatale act in films like Race and Bachna Ae Haseeno She proved that girls would be girls and women would be women! No wonder, she approached her part in 'Race' with such style and sensibilities that one didn't mind her playing the gray character at all. Some more sizzling dance numbers later, she was the darling of Race. As for Bachna Ae Haseeno, she was indeed such a 'bit%^' (as she proclaimed in the film too) that one wouldn't mind being her slave at all, as did Ranbir Kapoor in the film.
5 - Kajol (U Me Aur Hum)
It's a pity that 'U Me Aur Hum' didn't go the distance that it deserved. Though the film did reasonably well at the box office, one would have expected much more buzz around Kajol's act in the film. As a troubled woman suffering from Alzheimer disease, she was near perfect in the film which was directed by her husband Ajay Devgan. The usual spunk was missing from her performance, as per the demand of her character since she was required to be all tense and pensive for most of the film's duration. As for her future films too, expect some more serious/meaningful/hard hitting characters to be played by her, something that she seems to be opting for considering her status of being a 'veteran' actor already.
4 - Anushka Sharma (Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi)
It is not every day that one sees a debutant leading lady being offered an author backed role in a commercial Yash Raj film outing where she is seen in almost every frame of the film. This way Anushka Sharma was really lucky since she didn't just get an opportunity to be a part of a film which told a new story and allowed her to display her acting talent; it also made her stand next to Shah Rukh Khan in almost every scene. Anushka grabbed the opportunity provided to her with both hands and went all out in coming up with a sparkling act. Add to that her modeling background and some good dancing skills and we could be looking at yet another star material in the offering.
3 - Aishwarya Bachchan (Jodhaa Akbar, Sarkar Raj)
While it is hardly a breaking news that Aishwarya Rai looks beautiful in every outing of hers, what is turning out to be a pleasant surprise are some consistently good performances from her year after year. In 2007 it was Guru and this year, the films where she came up with some good performances are Sarkar Raj and Jodhaa Akbar. Though her Jodhaa Akbar turned out to be a good money spinner and got her quite some accolades, it is Sarkar Raj where she impressed even more in the role of a businesswoman. Watch out for her scenes with Amitabh Bachchan and you know that she is confident enough to be standing in front of the best of the talents and still make her presence felt. Credit must go to Ram Gopal Varma who went beyond her beauty, made her wear business suits for most of her scenes and still made her performance noticeable.
2 - Genelia D'Souza (Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Naa)
The 'home coming' award for the year 2008 should go to Genelia D'Souza who came back from hibernation (as far as Bollywood is concerned since she was busy with her work down South) and came up with a flawless performance in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Naa. Even though the film took close to 2 years in the making, spark in Genelia's performance could be witnessed in each of her scenes. Simply brilliant and the heart of Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Naa, she impressed on all quarters, whether it was her delivering her dialogues, being natural in front of the camera or looking just like the character she was required to portray. A powerhouse of talent, she should be much more visible in Bollywood from here on.
1 - Priyanka Chopra (Fashion, Dostana)
And this would well be the comeback of the year! With as many as six flops behind her - Salaam E Ishq, Big Brother, Love Story 2050, Chamku, Drona, God Tussi Great Ho - any other actress would have just given up. But not Priyanka Chopra who just looked at Fashion and Dostana as the opportunities that could bring her back into the reckoning. While most of her flops were long in the making, she concentrated completely on these two films which promised to present in a different light altogether. While Madhur Bhandarkar gave her a author backed role in Fashion' Karan Johar ensured that she turned out to be the scorcher of the year with Dostana. She impressed on both counts, whether it was acting (Fashion) or looking beautiful (Dostana) and announced loud and clear - 'I Am Back'.