From Aditi Rao Hydari to Deepika Padukone, here are six Indian actresses who made us fall in love with the magic of cinema
Some of the most talented and loved actresses in the country — Samantha Akkineni, Nayanthara, Parvathy Thiruvothu, and Taapsee Pannu, to name a few — have revolutionised the modern Indian film industry by emerging with more diverse characters and several female-centric roles in movies.
Here’s a look at six pan-Indian actresses who have acted across film industries within our country and set their mark.
Aditi Rao Hydari
A powerhouse performer and an entertainer par excellence, Aditi Rao Hydari is a popular name in the Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam entertainment industry. Aditi is a recipient of the South Indian International Movie Awards, International Indian Film Academy Awards, Asiavision Awards and Screen Records. Known for her commercial and as well as content-driven films, Aditi made her on-screen debut with the Tamil film Sringaram in 2007. Her recent projects include Kollywood films Psycho and Chekka Chevandha Vaanam. Aditi was last seen in the Arjun Kapoor-starrer Sardar Ka Grandson, which was released on Netflix on May 18. She plays the role of John Abraham’s love interest and the younger version of Neena Gupta’s character in the film.
Aditi received critical acclaim for her multi-layered performance as a lesbian in Geeli Pucchi, a segment from the Hindi anthology Ajeeb Daastaans. The movie highlights numerous issues in society including casteism, identity crisis, discovering one’s sexuality, the importance of a career in a woman’s life, and patriarchy, to name a few. Aditi and Konkona Sensharma had pulled off the roles impressively with their undeniable chemistry, and convincingly portrayed the relationship between a woman from the upper caste and a Dalit. The story is about how the two of them find emotional support in each other.
A quintessential pan-Indian actress, Taapsee Pannu has successfully established herself as one of the most bankable movie stars in the country today. The Filmfare Award winner made her acting debut in the 2010 Telugu film Jhummandi Naadam followed by the 2011 Tamil movie, Aadukalam. Taapsee eventually even entered Malayalam cinema later that year, with Doubles (2011). She then made her Bollywood debut with David Dhawan’s 2013 comedy, Chashme Baddoor.
The critically acclaimed star has worked in various regional films including the Tamil film Vandhaan Vendraan, Telugu film Mogudu, Telugu–Tamil bilingual Gundello Godari and more. She has various hit Bollywood films to her credit including Pink, Naam Shabana, Soorma, Mulk, Manmarziyaan, Thappad, and Saand Ki Aankh among others, and the Tamil film Game Over. Taapsee will next be seen in Shabaash Mithu, a biographical sports movie based on Indian women’s cricket captain Mithali Raj. She also has Rashmi Rocket starring Priyanshu Painyuli and Dobaara in the pipeline.
A charming, bubbly actress who fits all kinds of roles ranging from the girl-next-door (Naan Ee) to an old lady who is astrally projected into her younger self (Oh! Baby), Samantha Akkineni has starred in several blockbuster hit movies like Rangasthalam, Mahanati and Irumbu Thirai. An actress known for her natural ability to adapt to any kind of role, Samantha made her debut in the film industry in director Gautam Vasudev Menon’s Telugu movie Ye Maaya Chesave (2010). She is the recipient of three Filmfare awards, a Vijay Award, IIFA Utsavam Award and Nandi Special Jury Award. Her recent projects include Tamil movies Thangamagan and Theri, and the bilingual horror film U-Turn.
Samantha was last seen in The Family Man 2 starring Manoj Bajpayee. In the series, she plays the role of the antogonist: an extremist leader with roots from Tamil Nadu and is seen wearing a Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) uniform in one of the scenes. The LTTE is a guerrilla organisation that had sought a separate state called Eelam in Sri Lanka for the Tamilians there, due to the long-standing conflict between Sri Lankans and Tamil people.
However, the actress is currently facing widespread backlash from Tamil Nadu for the alleged misrepresentation of LTTE as a “terrorist group” and the Tamil community as “villains.” Netizens had also termed the series “anti-Tamil” and sought a ban on it, along with an apology from the makers.
An actress who is known for her talent and the wide range of movies she has acted in, Nayanthara has made her debut in the Malayalam film Manassinakkare in 2003. She then moved on to Tamil cinema with the movie Ayya (2005) and Lakshmi (2006) in Telugu. Nayanthara rose to fame with her role in Chandramukhi (2005) and made her mark in Kollywood with many more hits like Raja Rani (2013), Velaikkaran (2017), and Imaikka Nodigal (2018). Known for the bold, fearless characters she plays in movies, Nayanthara has received the Kalaimamani award, Filmfare awards, Vijay Awards, the IIFA Utsavam Award, Nandi Special Jury Awards, and Asianet Film Awards.
Nayanthara's future projects include Annaatthe alongside superstar Rajinikanth and Mani Ratnam’s magnum opus Ponniyin Selvan, which is based on a Tamil epic with the same name penned by legendary writer Kalki.
Moving on to Bollywood, the next actress on our list is Deepika Padukone, who is known to be one of the top actresses in the Hindi film industry. The actress, who was named by a leading magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, has acted in movies like Ramleela, Chhapaak, Piku, Bajirao Mastani, Chennai Express, and more. Interestingly, Deepika made her debut in the acting career through the Kannada film Aishwarya, which was released in 2006. She then moved to Bollywood and got a break with Om Shanti Om (2007) starring Shah Rukh Khan.
Deepika’s list of accomplishments and awards are limitless, with a few of them being a recipient of three Filmfare awards, CNN-IBN Indian of the Year Special Achievement, Zee Cine Awards, IIFA Awards, and Stardust Awards. The actress will next be seen in her husband Ranveer Singh’s upcoming sports drama 83, which is a biography of legendary cricketer Kapil Dev, who was crucial in India winning the World Cup in 1983. She will also be seen in Sidharth Anand’s Pathan alongside Shah Rukh Khan. Yet another project in her kitty is the action-thriller film Fighter, which is expected to hit theatres in September 2022. Fighter too is directed by Sidharth Anand and will co-star Hrithik Roshan.
Parvathy Thiruvothu, a rising star in the south-Indian film industry, has worked predominantly in Malayalam, Kannada and Tamil movies. She made her debut in the 2006 Malayalam film Out of Syllabus and has starred in many more hits including Bangalore Days, Uyare, Charlie, and Ennu Ninte Moideen. Parvathy Menon is the recipient of several film awards, including the Filmfare, Asianet, and IIFA. Parvathy was also a game-changer in terms of external appearances within the film industry and defied the standard rules of “beauty” with her beautiful, untamed curls and complexion.
Parvathy will next be seen in Aneesh Kuruvilu’s Malayalam film Kappa Pappadam starring Fahadh Faasil, Keerthy Suresh, and Prathap Pothen.