They rule Bollywood.

They are the stuff dreams are made of. Style, grace, charisma, attitude. They have it all.

They have also essayed roles of strength and sensitivity.

Women's Day, March 8, would be just the right day, we thought to pay them a tribute. Presenting the dynamic divas of Bollywood.


Madhuri Dixit

The Showgirl: She stole countless hearts with her million-dollar smile and exhilarating dances. Madhuri was the undisputed queen of the BO for a long, long time.

The Actress: What sets Madhuri Dixit apart from most actresses is the power and energy she translates through her performances. She is capable of conveying subtlety and vulnerability to the same effect, too. Be it her high voltage persona in Dil, Beta, Lajja and Mrityudand or lighthearted romanticism in Hum Aapke Hain Koun, Dil Toh Pagal Hai, Madhuri is a winner.

The Person: Her rise to superstardom wasn't easy -- with concessions like the kissing scenes in Dayavan and Vardi for good measure. Apart from that and her alleged link-up with costar Sanjay Dutt, Madhuri has maintained a low profile. She is devoted to her family and now strives to make a success out of her marriage to Los Angeles-based Dr Shriram Nene.

What Next? Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam (Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan), Devdas (Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai).


Juhi Chawla

The Showgirl: She isn't the stereotyped steamy seductress. Yet Juhi exudes a naive charm and childlike exuberance that is simply irresistible.

The Actress: Right from Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, Juhi's acting talent was never in question. A spontaneous performer, Juhi's forte is cute, romantic comedies. Her trademark curls and chuckles take a life of their own when the chirpy actress gets into the groove. Witness her playful Hum Hain Rahin Pyaar Ke, Bol Radha Bol, Darr, Yes Boss, One Two Ka Four and Aamdani Atthani Kharcha Rupaiya.

The Person: Though initially averse to doing 'arty' cinema, Juhi is now open to the idea of working with new ideas and mind sets. Now a wife and mother, Juhi is still very much in the reckoning, working on films exploiting her untapped potential. She also founded a production house with Shah Rukh Khan, Dreamz Unlimited.

What Next? Three Walls (Jackie Shroff, Naseeruddin Shah) Dil Vil Pyaar Vyaar (Madhavan, Namrata Shirodkar).



The Showgirl: Not a conventional looker. Kajol's beauty lies in her attitude and raw sex appeal.

The Actress: As an actress, Kajol is as natural as natural can be. This bundle of talent has proved that she is the chip of the old block (Shobhana Samarth, Nutan, Tanuja). Her chameleon-like quality to transform according to the wants of the role has earned her respect as an actress. The docile Simran of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, the obsessive Esha in Gupt and the tomboyish Anjali in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai are a few cases in point.

The Person: She is a firebrand alright. Even though Kajol met with success early in her career, she is a far cry from one-hit wonders. She is completely indifferent to the hype and hoopla surrounding her. Emotionally volatile, Kajol tied the knot with actor Ajay Devgan at the peak of her career. Choosy about her assignments, Kajol is taking it easy at the moment.

What Next? Post Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, the actress is on a self-imposed sabbatical.


Karisma Kapoor

The Showgirl: The blue-eyed actress has regaled the masses with her inherent ability to entertain. Dancing like a dream is one of her prime specialities.

The Actress: Commitment. Dedication. Constantly reinventing herself. One of Hindi cinema's most hard-working actresses today. Karisma has struck the perfect balance between commercial and meaningful cinema -- whether it is matching steps with Govinda in masala potboilers or giving heart-wrenching performances in Raja Hindustani, Fiza, Dil Toh Pagal Hai and Zubeidaa.

The Person: Unlike her spirited persona on screen, Karisma is level-headed and pragmatic. Instead of getting bogged by criticism, she makes it a point to prove her detractors wrong by working doubly hard on her looks and acting.

What Next? Shakti (Nana Patekar, Sanjay Kapoor), Khushiyaan (Ajay Devgan).


Manisha Koirala

The Showgirl: Porcelain beauty Manisha may not have a killing figure or agile dancing skills, but her docile eyes and sheer enigma ensures her staying power.

The Actress: A sensitive performer, Manisha fits into any role like a glove. Her ability to get under the skin of her character are ever so convincingly displayed on screen. At a time when every other actress was busy dancing around trees, the Nepali beauty agreed to play mother of two in Bombay, a victim of marital abuse in Agnisakshi, an ambitious estranged wife in Akele Hum Akele Tum and the voice of deaf and mute parents in Khamoshi.

The Person: In an industry that encourages double standards, Manisha acknowledges enjoying her occasional drink. A lot has been written about her Bohemian lifestyle, but Manisha has also been known to go out of her way to help people. She also played peacemaker in the infamous Hrithik Roshan-Nepal controversy.

What Next? Company (Ajay Devgan, Vivek Oberoi), Escape From Taliban, Jaani Dushman -- Ek Anokhi Kahani (Sunny Deol, Akshay Kumar, Suneil Shetty), Mehbooba (Sanjay Dutt).



The Showgirl: She is the thinking man's sex symbol. Hard to believe that this leggy lass started off her career playing to the gallery in Vijaypath's Ruk ruk.

The Actress: Tabu has the knack of plumbing the depths of every character she portrays on screen. Her metamorphosis from gawky starlet to woman of substance in films like Maachis, Virasat, Astitva, Chandini Bar and Filhaal is simply commendable.

The Person: Poetic in temperament, Tabu seeks the company of people who can match her creative wavelength. The unassuming actress treasures her privacy, though she has been linked with all her costars from Sanjay Kapoor to Sanjay Dutt.

What Next? Kaante (Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt, Lucky Ali, Suneil Shetty, Mahesh Manjrekar), Sarhad Paar (Sanjay Dutt, Chandrachur Singh, Mahima) and Pran Jaaye Par Chawl Naa Jaaye (Namrata Shirodkar, Mahesh Manjrekar).


Raveena Tandon

The Showgirl: The eternal mast mast girl. Sauciness personified, ravishing Raveena is a treat for sore eyes. So are her dance numbers. Witness the spice girl in action: Shaher ki ladki (Rakshak), Ore ore (Ziddi), Kisi disco main (Bade Miya Chhote Miya), Yeh Raat (Aks).

The Actress: It was all fun and games for Raveena till she got serious about her career. A bit role in Ghulam-e-Mustafa was followed by an impressive performance in Shool. Thereafter followed Raveena's change of image. An award-winning performance of an oppressed wife in Daman proved a great follow-up to Shool. Her transistion from loud performer to a composed actress, hungry for powerful roles is what makes Raveena special.

The Person: A survivor. No other adjective would do justice to Raveena. After a fiasco with Akshay Kumar, Raveena almost quit films. She started from scratch. Special appearances were followed by roles with meat and substance. She keeps getting linked with eligible bachelors. For her part, Raveena is content looking after her two adopted daughters and doing good cinema.

What Next? Satta (Atul Kulkarni), Ankhiyon Se Goli Mare (Govinda), Kasam Se (Suneil Shetty), Waah!..Tera Kya Kehna (Govinda), LoC (Sanjay Dutt, Ajay Devgan, Nagarjuna, Saif Ali Khan, Suneil Shetty, Akshaye Khanna, Manoj Bajpai, Karan Nath, Sanjay Kapoor, Abhishek Bachchan).


Sushmita Sen

The Showgirl: A heady mix of beauty and brains, Sushmita lights the screen.

The Actress: Sushmita's intelligence and poise are reflected in her performances. She accepted taboo roles of the other woman in Biwi No 1 and Sirf Tum and brought a considerable respect to the otherwise misunderstood role. Even in average flicks like Bas Itna Sa Khwaab Hai or Tumko Naa Bhool Payenge, Sushmita rocked. Her portrayal of the modern contemporary woman in Filhaal has proved beyond doubt that she is a gifted actress.

The Person: The proverbial dark horse, Sushmita has worked her way to become an achiever, be it at beauty pageants or at movies. Open about her personal life, Sushmita doesn't mind discussing her relationship with boyfriend Sanjay Narang or adopted daughter Renee.

What Next? Aankhen (Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Arjun Rampal, Paresh Rawal and Bipasha Basu).



Urmila Matondkar

The Showgirl: A trendsetter, in terms of looks, makeovers, the works. Urmila lives up to her showgirl image and how.

The Actress: There is more to Urmila than her sexy pout. Adventurous in her choice of roles, Urmila has no qualms about playing the good, bad or ugly. A perfectionist of sorts, Urmila likes to look into all the details of her character before starting work on it. Hence when her role of the carefree Ria in Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya demanded a short hairstyle, she went right ahead and chopped it all off.

The Person: Beneath all that jazz, Urmila likes to believe herself just another normal girl. The stunner prefers to talk about films and roles that excite her and stays out of gossip for most part. Only exception being her perennial link-ups with Ramgopal Varma.

What Next? Pinjar (Manoj Bajpai).



Preity Zinta

The Showgirl: A child woman of sorts, Preity's vivacity lies in her bubbly and impish exterior.

The Actress: Natural and uninhibited, Preity is instinctive -- whether she is jabbering non stop in Dil Se and Soldier or playing an unwed teenaged mother in Kya Kehna, or with ther exuberant, sensitive performance in Dil Chahta Hai.

The Person: Preity shares an enviable bond with most of her costars, especially Rani Mukherji. She is most unhesitant about speaking her mind.

What Next? Khullam Khulla Pyar Karenge (Govinda), Koi Mil Gaya (Hrithik Roshan).



Nandita Das

The Showgirl: She may not qualify as the regular glamour doll, but the dusky star's appeal lies in her intense and earthy personality.

The Actress: Inspired by interesting subjects, Nandita Das has consciously made an effort to stand out from the rest of her clan. She treads territories which others tremble to look at. Her controversial roles in Fire and Bawandar bear ample testimony. Her tryst with mainstream cinema in Aks and Pitaah only emphasized her caliber as an actress.

The Person: Daughter of painter Jatin Das, Nandita comes from a totally non-filmi background. Maybe a reason that despite bold roles on screen, she has steered clear of all controversies and link-ups till date.

What Next? Lal Salaam (Sharad Kapoor), Supari (Uday Chopra).



Kareena Kapoor

The Showgirl: She came, she saw, she conquered. She is all style.

The Actress: The fire in Kareena's eyes was clearly evident in her debut film Refugee itself. Proving that she is no flash in the pan, her next film Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai established her screen presence. Yaadein and Ajnabee just asserted that the Kapoor girl was born to act. In Asoka, Kareena carried the role of Kaurwaki with elan and dignity. Her flamboyance as the trendy Poo in K3G is unquestioned, too.

The Person: She has been dubbed a spoilt brat, arrogant and a loud mouth. However, people close to the budding actress beg to differ. Temperamentally, Kareena maybe poles apart from her sister. But like Karisma, Kareena is a go-getter.

What Next? Dil Chor (Abhishek Bachchan), Talaash (Akshay Kumar), Khushi (Fardeen Khan), Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon (Hrithik Roshan, Abhishek Bachchan).



Also Read:
More than a woman

Text: Sukanya Verma
Design: Uday Kuckian

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