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100 Years Of Bollywood: Actresses who changed the face of film industry

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The history of Bollywood stretches as far back as film industries of the rest of the world - the first feature film was produced in 1913, and the first talkie in 1931. And today, our most loved Bollywood industry completes 100 years of successful journey. Our Hindi film industry has been a reflection of the socio-economic, political and cultural changes that took place in the country, and the name Bollywood itself defines art, talent and vision which today has reached nooks and corners globally.

Over the years, we have witnessed the industry giving birth to artists, legends, superstars. The Indian film industry has always produced male-oriented films barring a few exceptions. But, gone are those days, when female actresses did nothing, except playing arm-candies to male actors onscreen. However, there were some female leads that always took the industry by storm by their great performance and stood high despite all odds. Breaking this stereotyped notion, Bollywood babes today play more crucial and meatier roles onscreen.

Bollywood actresses like Nargis, Smita Patil, Shabana Azmi, Madhuri Dixit, Vidya Balan have changed perceptions and ruled cinema in their own way. The nation witnessed these female stars, not simply playing to the tunes of the patriarchal society but standing their own ground, where women were not subjected to torture.

Check out the Bollywood actresses who changed the face of Bollywood and made a niche for themselves in the industry.


Nargis is considered as one of the greatest actresses in the history of Hindi cinema. One of her best-known roles was that of Radha in the Academy Award-nominated Mother India (1957), a performance that won her Best Actress trophy at the Filmfare Awards. In 2011, Rediff.com listed her as the greatest actress of all time, noting, "An actress with range, style, grace and an incredibly warm screen presence, Nargis is truly a leading lady to celebrate."

Smita Patil

Patil was considered as one of finest artists during her time in the industry. Winning the Best Actress National Award twice for Bhumika and Chakra, the earthy Smita Patil was a leading light of parallel cinema.

Shabana Azmi

Regarded as one of the finest actresses in India, Azmi's performances in films in a variety of genres have generally earned her praise and awards, which include a record of five wins of the National Film Award for Best Actress and several international honours. With acclaimed films like, Arth, Ankur and Fire to name a few, Shabana was one the few actresses who merged the gap between parallel and commercial cinema.


Often compared to Marilyn Monroe, this golden actress was vibrant, sensitive, all in all, a perfect beauty. She is considered as one of the most influential female superstars in the history of Bollywood.

Hema Malini

How can one miss out this 'dream girl' from the list? Hema Malini is among the most successful female film stars in the history of Indian cinema. Appearing in over 150 films in a career span of 40 years, she has starred in a large number of successful films, and her performances in both commercial and art house cinema, were often recognised.


Sridevi is cited as the first female superstar of the Hindi cinema and one of the longest reigning successful leading ladies. Her National success came in Bollywood with highly acclaimed roles in films including Sadma (1983), Nagina (1986), Mr India (1987), Chandni (1989), ChaalBaaz (1989), Lamhe (1991), Khuda Gawah (1992), Gumrah (1993) and Judaai (1997).


This evergreen beauty blessed with loads of talent is a prime example of vivaciousness. A living legend in herself, she has the aura that only a few can dare to match. Noted for her versatility and acknowledged as one of the finest actresses in Hindi cinema.

Madhuri Dixit

The lady with the killer smile was a director's delight. She is considered to be one of the best actresses, Bollywood has ever seen. She has stolen the hearts of everyone of all ages, be it young college students or famous painters like MF Hussain, her charm has enticed all.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

Often called the most beautiful women on Earth, the sexy lass is not just an Indian celebrity but a global one.

Vidya Balan

This lady needs no introduction. Nevertheless to say, Vidya has created a new kahaani in the industry, with her last two releases The Dirty Picture and Kahaani. In spite of doing women centric themes and films (No One Killed Jessica, Kahaani and The Dirty Picture), she became an A-lister and came in the top league of actors.

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