REDIFF: Bollywood's 10 Best Actresses of 2012

Raja Sen: It's been yet another mixed bag of a year for Hindi cinema, with some fine performances mired in poor films, and some fine films marred by weak actors at their centres. As actresses go, however, it's been a pretty good year, boasting of some very fine performances from some very talented women. Two come from the same film, and one even pops up twice. Here, then, is the class of 2012. Give the ladies a hand.
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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 her mom died during 1997...
“ What. A. Return.

I've never been the hugest Sridevi fan, growing up decidedly on the Madhuri side of the fence, but this wondrous performance deserves massive, massive applause. Gauri Shinde's terrific English Vinglish casts the once larger-than-life Sri as a mousy housewife struggling to establish her own identity, and the actress is superb as she deals with bratty children, a smug husband and, of course, the English language, without a grasp of which she is made to feel most inadequate. It's a great character, one revelling in audience sympathy, and Sri plays it deftly and tenderly. Her Shashi is flawless, sure, but Sri makes her an irresistible underdog who must be cheered on. There is magic in the way she is spurred on by the minor victories -- like learning to negotiate a NYC subway turnstile -- and magic also in how believable she keeps things. This is a simple film where things are credible, never melodramatic, and Sridevi -- in a range of well-picked cotton sarees -- always judges the tone right. It's the sort of performance younger actresses, including the ones on this list, should learn from.

Hats off, Ma'am. ” - guniya
Richa Chadha
Richa began her career as a model and then she moved to theater. She has performed plays touring in India and Pakistan. Later, she also received her training under Barry John Richa acted in the critically acclaimed movie Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! as the character of Dolly, both the movie and her role were well appreciated...
“ In a film packed with crazy characters stuffed to the gills with quirks and an ensemble throbbing with authentic, theatrical intensity, it takes some significant magic to stand out. Chaddha does so almost effortlessly in Anurag Kashyap's Gangs Of Wasseypur, right from its uneven Part One where she violently lambasts the menfolk around her till she gets into a position of control, and the madder Part Two, where she, as matriarch, controls the show. It is a firecracker of a performance, one that sets up Chaddha -- who was so thrilling in Oye Lucky Lucky Oye a few years ago -- as an actress with a tremendous amount to offer. ” - guniya
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...
“ One has to applaud Balan for taking risks. Sujoy Ghosh's Kahaani sees Balan waddle heavily around the city of Calcutta, her belly pregnant to near-exploding levels, as she sweatily negotiates Bengal's unrelenting sultriness. It is a character unlike any in our cinema, and Balan plays her Vidya Bagchi with nuanced perfection, shifting uncomfortably through a film that cares little for her character's convenience. Most of the battle is won when a mystery makes us empathise with its protagonist, and thanks to Vidya Balan, we always care. ” - guniya
Kareena Kapoor
Actress, 3 Idiots
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; her paternal uncles...
“ My absolute favourite thing about Talaash is Kareena Kapoor, the actress mouthing lines belonging to cinema (mostly bad cinema) from several decades ago, and yet doing so with a lovely lilt in her voice, enveloping herself with an air of not taking things too seriously -- which contrasts her perfectly with the film's somber hero, Aamir Khan. As I mentioned in my review, she plays her part lightly, mockingly, like Anne Hathaway's Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises. And it is this buoyant sense of play that keeps the film afloat. ” - guniya
“ It's been impressive to watch young Chopra steadily grow as a performer, and even though Habib Faisal's film is ridiculously, regressively cruel to its heroine, Chopra makes sure her Zoya works, constantly. Starting off as a plucky girl brimming with underage enthusiasm and bonafide bloodlust, she manages also to swoon with the helplessness that defines her age. A true firecracker, this. ” - guniya
Kareena Kapoor
Actress, 3 Idiots
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; her paternal uncles...
“ (Kareena also in Heroine)

Undoubtedly the weakest film on this list, Madhur Bhandarkar's Heroine does nonetheless feature a pretty striking performance from its, well, heroine. Kareena Kapoor is handed a part that has everything, and she takes on this extreme, showreel-y character head on, showing us her powers to cry, to soar, to emote and to scheme. She does brilliantly enough to almost salvage the film, but some things are beyond the power of actors. ” - guniya
Kalki Koechlin
Kalki Koechlin was born to French parents in a small village in Pondicherry. Her parents had come to India as hippies in the 1970s and settled there after they fell in love with the country. Her parents are devotees of Sri Aurobindo. Kalki was studying in Ooty when her parents insisted that she attend university...
“ Kalki Koechlin got the short end of the stick in Dibakar Banerjee's Shanghai, a political thriller offering more meat to its male actors and leaving her with a rather annoying character. And yet, despite being coiled exasperatingly tight throughout the film, she's rewarded with a glorious outburst near the end of the film, a helplessly violent expression of impotent rage. Armed with a dinner plate and fury, she's astoundingly good. ” - guniya
Rani Mukerji
Actress, Veer-Zaara
Mukerji comes from a film-oriented family of Bengali origin. Her father, Ram Mukherjee, is a retired director and one of the founders of "Filmalaya Studios". Her mother, Krishna Mukherjee, was a playback singer. Her brother, Raj Mukherjee is a film producer, now turned director. Her maternal aunt...
“ One of the few things Reema Kagti got truly right in Talaash was the casting, and while the characters may all have been one-note, the actors portraying them fleshed them out into real people. Rani Mukerji, as a grieving mother who has lost her child, was achingly vulnerable and believably devastated. The film didn't offer her enough, but what little Rani found, she shone in. ” - guniya