Nutan to Zeenat Aman: 8 iconic actresses who changed Bollywood irrevocably

Women in Bollywood have never been taken too seriously. These actresses managed to create an impact with their grace and beauty nonetheless.

Bollywood has been a powerhouse of men and women whose sole aim is to dazzle their expectant audience who is always eager to watch anything with a dramatic flair. Just like any other film industry, Bollywood is also full of different departments that have produced the best of human beings. All this while as we have come across inspiring stories from the industry, the women have found a unique voice for themselves. They have evolved into the symbol or a role model if you will, for independent woman everywhere trying to make it on their own. From Zeenat Aman to Jaya Bachchan, from Farah Khan to Madhuri Dixit, each of them has shown exemplary commitment and an incredibly individualistic streak to carve a niche of their own in a lopsided world.

Here is a glimpse into the world of everything dramatic in our country where these extraordinary women have managed to leave an indelible mark:

  1. Madhubala: Also known as the Venus of Indian Cinema, Madhubala was perhaps the first well-known face of Bollywood who was awarded a celebrity status. From her iconic Mughal-E-Azam to her roles in Mahal, Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi and Amar defined her potential. Labeled the Beauty with Tragedy, Madhubala’s unique allure was known worldwide.
  2. Nutan: If there was one thing that Nutan had was a bank of unrivaled charm and grace which has remained unmatched since. No matter what role she played, she seemed to do so with an aplomb that was refreshing, to say the least. Till today, her performance in Bimal Roy’s Bandini remains a class apart.
  3. Mumtaz: She was an outsider to films whose early years of struggle defined her as the unsung hero of the Hindi screen as she rose to the topmost rung of the Bollywood ladder. Her’s was a fascinating tale of acting talent, sex appeal and sheer grit that won her audiences over.
  4. Jaya Bhaduri: Now known to the world as Jaya Bachchan, began her career with Satyajit Ray’s Mahanagar as a teenager. Known for her performances in films like Upahar and Kora Kagaz, she played the wronged wife, the sweet teenager who loves a movie star, the dying love interest of a broken man with so much poise and easy effortlessness that it is no wonder that she reached the peak of her career at a very young age. 
  5. Zeenat Aman: She was crowned Miss Asia Pacific at a young age, becoming the first South Asian woman to do so. From modelling to cinema, the transition for Zeenat seemed rather effortless. At a time when being ‘coy’ was the norm, she ruled the industry as a sex symbol with her bold costumes and bolder persona. 
  6. Shabana Azmi: A product of excellent theatre, Shabana Azmi’s career picked up later in her life as she began to use different stages to showcase her real talent. She, like Smita Patil, did what she wanted to. Not what she was expected to and that, it seems, made all the difference. From a browbeaten house wife to a lesbian – she was exemplary in the roles she played – as she is in real life.  
  7. Smita Patil: In her brief career she managed to create a deep and lasting impression through her emotionally-charged performances in movies like Bhumika and Arth that defined the 1970s. Smita Patil died of post-natal complications at the age of 31, yet her career was known for her honesty, intelligence, and earthiness.
  8. Madhuri Dixit: She was an outsider to films as she made her journey from JB Nagar to Juhu, and into all our hearts. Madhuri Dixit was one of the few actresses who could act with a lot of heart and also dance with a passion unmatched. Her ‘million dollar smile’, her chameleon-like ability to portray black, white, grey roles early on in her career cemented her place in cinema forever.  

Also Read: The most popular comedy specials of 2017 reveal a ‘gap’ we really should talk about

Across the ages and beyond the spotlight of the glamour world, these women created their own space and diversified the stereotypical roles that had kept actresses tied down so far.

Which one of these actresses is your personal faourite? Tell us in the comment box below.


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