Slowly but steadily, we have reached at a point where female characters in films are not just eye-candy, but also do the heavy lifting. With meaty roles written for mid-aged women, a magnum opus around a female character, a lady villain who is more badass than many male ones, we’ve had a variety of superb female portrayals in 2018. Bollywood is finally evolving as are its people. Let’s take a moment to appreciate some sparkly ladies who wooed us with their performances last year.
# Alia Bhatt
Proving her calibre since her very first film, Alia Bhatt has been playing roles that have shaped her filmography in the best way possible. Be it the carefree Veera from Highway or the depressed Kaira from Dear Zindagi, or even her nameless character from Udta Punjab, she plays every part in a way that you can’t replace her. In 2018, Alia portrayed the role of Sehmat, an Indian spy, in Raazi, based on the book Calling Sehmat by Harinder Sikka. Raazi was based on Alia’s character which meant the heavy lifting was to be done by her. She played the role to the best of her capabilities and gave the audience an amazing film to watch. Under Meghna Gulzar’s meticulous direction, Alia showed a side of her, completely different from all the characters she has played. Raazi went on to make good numbers at the Box Office, adding another feather to her cap. 2019 has Gully Boy, Brahmastra and Kalank in store for Alia, and we know she will rock them all.
# Deepika Padukone
Ranked as IMDB’s top Indian star of 2018, Deepika Padukone never looked back after taking flight with Cocktail. Delivering hit after hit with different directors, Deepika deserves that spot. 2018 saw her third collaboration with Sanjay Leela Bhansali (SLB) and her husband Ranveer Singh. Her film Padmaavat was based on a 13th century poem that goes by the same name as the title. The film went through turmoil when a fringe group alleged that SLB had shown queen Padmavati in a bad light (way before the film was even completed, leave alone viewed). And the director and Deepika faced threats of being beheaded and other such nonsense. The movie, initially supposed to be released in December 2017, hit the theatres in January 2018. After going through its share of ups and downs, the film won out, and in a sweeping victory, turned out one of the highest grossers of the year. Deepika in the titular role excels in her acting, postures, dancing, and everything made the film a treat to watch. Her next film is Chhapak, opposite Vikrant Massey, directed by Meghna Gulzar. An unusual concept, but considering Deepika’s streak, this is an anticipated one.
# Taapsee Pannu
2018 saw Taapsee Pannu in two strong roles, poles apart from each other. In Anubhav Sinha’s Mulk, she played a lawyer saving her in-laws from accusations of being terrorists. Mulk was a movie that didn’t open to great Box Office numbers, but had amazing content. Her second role was that of Rumi, in Manmarziyaan, a complex character fighting with her own mind, alongside Vicky Kaushal and Abhishek Bachchan. She also played a part in Soorma with Diljit Dosanjh, yet another strong character that adds value to the film. Taapsee has evolved progressively in her choice of characters, and is choosing roles that benefit her filmography, as well as impress us. We hope to see more layers of this amazing actor in the coming year with Badla and Mission Mangal.
# Anushka Sharma
Last year, we were re-introduced to our age-old genres in a new way with some path-breaking films. Anushka Sharma in Pari explored the horror genre and yes, we were shocked and surprised by her work. She played the part of a ghost with such finesse that while watching the film, you forget it’s Anushka and get into that world. Later in the year, she gave up all her vanity and played a small-town lady with big ambitions. As Mamta, she was the highpoint in Sharat Kataria’s Sui Dhaaga- Made in India. Alongside Varun Dhawan, Anushka left no loophole in the preparation of the character, and her accent, looks, attire, body language, everything was on point.
With an amazing line up ahead in 2019, this run seems to be streaking ahead, with no coming back. We hope that these actors and all the others get roles worth their weight, making it a shining year for the movies. This sum-up also doesn’t imply that we have stopped making objectifying content, but it is heartening to experience the gamut of good content creators who have emerged and are giving us what we deserve. Anyway, who was the best actress of 2018, according to you? Vote in the poll above!