The 15 Greatest Actresses in Indian Cinema

by rohanghuge | created - 25 Jun 2012 | updated - 25 Jun 2012 | Public

1. Madhubala

Actress | Mughal-E-Azam

Arguably the most beautiful artiste to ever grace the Indian screen, Madhubala rose from humble beginnings to become the most captivating star India has ever produced. Madhubala was born Mumtaz Jehan Begum on Valentine's Day 1933, in a poor, conservative family of Pathan Muslims in Delhi, a part of...

2. Nargis

Actress | Mother India

She was born on June 1, 1929 as Fatima Rashid in Rawalpindi, British India, daughter to Jaddanbai and Uttamchand Mohanchand, a former Hindu Mohyal Brahmin who converted to Islam as Abdul Rashid. Her mother was a well-known dancer, singer, actor, composer, and director. This is what paved the way ...

3. Waheeda Rehman

Actress | Guide

Waheeda was born in a Tamil and Urdu-speaking family in Chengalpattu-Tamil Nadu, India. Her father was the District Magistrate which led him to be posted in several places. Tragedy visited her in 1948 when her dad passed away. Her mom passed away in 1955.

A year after her dad's death she appeared in...

4. Meena Kumari

Actress | Kaajal

Born 1933 into a poor Parsee theatre family of Ali Bux and dancer Iqbal begum in Bombay, Maharashtra, India. Entered films to support family in difficult times. She was six when hired for Leatherface (1939) in 1939 by Vijay Bhatt and named Baby Meena. Later she became Meena Kumari when cast for ...

5. Nutan

Actress | Seema

Nutan Samarth was born on June 4 1936 to poet Kumarsen Samarth and his actress wife 'Shobhana' as the eldest of their four children (a younger sister is the actress Tanuja). Her parents separated when she was a small child. 13-year-old Nutan made her debut in K. Asif's "Hamari Beti". She was a ...

6. Vyjayanthimala

Actress | Devdas

Vyjayanthimala was born to actress and dancer Vasundhara Devi in a Tamil-speaking family in Chennai, India, on August 13, 1936.

At the age of 4, she got the rare chance of performing a dance before the Pope. Then at the age of 15, while in her final year at school, she was signed-up by family friend...

7. Smita Patil

Actress | Bhumika

Smita Patil was born on October 17, 1955 in Pune, State of Bombay, India. She was an actress, known for Bhumika (1977), Chakra (1981) and Namak Halaal (1982). She was married to Raj Babbar. She died on December 13, 1986 in Bombay, Maharashtra, India.

8. Shabana Azmi

Actress | Fire

One of the leading lights of the now-largely-defunct Indian New Wave, Shabana Azmi (alongside the late Smita Patil) was one of the main female actors who dominated the films of the so-called "Parallel Cinema" in India in the 1970s and 1980s. Born to noted Urdu progressive poet and lyricist Kaifi ...

9. Madhuri Dixit

Actress | Devdas

Born in a Marathi-speaking Koknastha Hindu Brahmin family consisting of dad, Shankar, mom, Snehlata, sisters, Rupa and Bharati, and brother, Ajit.

An acclaimed Kathak dancer, acting was not her goal, for she wanted to be a Micro-biologist, and did study in that course in Bombay's Parle College, in ...

10. Sridevi

Actress | English Vinglish

Sridevi was born on August 13, 1963 in her father's hometown of Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu, India. Her mother was from Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh. So Sridevi grew up speaking Telugu and Tamil. She has a sister named Srilatha and a stepbrother named Satish. Her dad passed away during the year 1991, while ...

11. Kajol

Actress | Kuch Kuch Hota Hai

Kajol was born on August 5, 1974 in Bombay, Maharashtra, India as Kajol Mukherjee. She is an actress, known for Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), Fanaa (2006) and My Name Is Khan (2010). She has been married to Ajay Devgn since February 24, 1999. They have two children.

12. Karisma Kapoor

Actress | Dil To Pagal Hai

Born into Bombay filmdom's legendary Kapoor clan, Karisma Kapoor made her film debut with Prem Qaidi (1991) opposite Harish. Her next big hit was Anari (1993) and during this time she made news with a fight with her Andaz Apna Apna (1994) co-star, actress Raveena Tandon. She had a series of hit ...

13. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

Actress | Devdas

Born into a traditional south Indian family, Aishwarya started modeling at a young age. This green-blue-eyed beauty appeared in advertisements for many prestigious firms; the ones that brought her into the limelight were the garden sari and the Pepsi ad. Crowned Miss India 1994 runner-up, she was a...

14. Vidya Balan

Actress | Kahaani

Vidya was born in Palghat, Kerala, India. Her family consists of her dad, P.R. Balan, who is the Vice-President of ETC Channel; mom - a home-maker, and an elder sister, Priya, who is married to Kedar. She also has an aunt by the name of Raji Raju.

The Balan family re-located to live at Road No. 11, ...

15. Kareena Kapoor Khan

Actress | Jab We Met

Kareena was born to Sindhi-speaking Babita (nee Shivdasani) and Punjabi-speaking Randhir Kapoor in Bombay, India. She has an elder sister, Karisma.

She is born in a family that have been actors for generations, including her paternal great-grandfather, Prithviraj Kapoor; her grandfather, Raj Kapoor;...