Most popular Hindi movie actresses since the 1980s

They say it’s a male dominated world and Bollywood is definitely not an exception. Male superstars have always called the shots in the Hindi Movie Industry but nevertheless female actors used to be a force to reckon with. The craze and following for actresses was at par, if not more, than their male counterparts of that era. But over the years, the superstardom of female actors has shown a consistent downhill trend.

Starting from the 80s, we have bracketed the female superstars into 5 groups categorized based on their active years and have analyzed their level and sustainability of success. Surprisingly, with the all the PR machinery and media hype in place in today’s time, the order of stardom is also the same which strengthens the point we are trying to highlight. Here it goes:

Sridevi - Madhuri Dixit

Sridevi – Madhuri Dixit

1. Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit (10/10): Carrying forward the legacy of Hema Malini (probably the only leading lady to single-handedly dominate the industry during her time) the Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit combo dominated the industry for around 2 decades which is a phenomenal achievement in itself. While Sridevi’s peak period was during the second half of 80s, Madhuri touched the pinnacle of success in the first half of 90s. Even the likes of Sunny Deol and Rajinikanth played supporting roles in 1989 blockbuster ‘Chaalbaaz’ which rode on Sridevi’s magnetic charisma alone. Such was the phenomenal stardom of Madhuri Dixit that all the leading distributors renamed the 1995 blockbuster ‘Raja’ to ‘Rani’, as the movie was heavily panned by critics but still became a huge success due to Madhuri’s starpower. Both of them individually starred in some of the classic movies of Indian Cinema like ‘Mr. India’, ‘Chandni’, ‘Hum Aapke Hain Kaun’ and ‘Saajan’ to name a few. The space here is too less to mention the achievements of these 2 legendary female actors.

Juhi Chawla - Kajol - Karishma Kapoor

Juhi Chawla – Kajol – Karishma Kapoor

2. Juhi Chawla, Kajol and Karishma Kapoor (8/10): Kajol emerged as the most successful lady of this group with a string of super hit movies like ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’, ‘Ishq’, ‘Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya’, ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’, ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham’ and many more. When she left movies for marriage, Kajol was at the peak of her career. Karishma Kapoor, who was labeled as the mass heroine given her superhit association with Govinda-David Dhawan, entered the big league with ‘Raja Hindustani’, ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’ and ‘Biwi No.1’ opposite the mega Khans. Juhi Chawla formed the leading trio of actresses along with Madhuri and Sridevi in the early 90s. She was phenomenal in movies like ‘Darr’, ‘Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke’, ‘Bol Radha Bol’ and ‘Ishq’.

Preity Zinta - Aishwarya Rai - Rani Mukherji

Preity Zinta – Aishwarya Rai – Rani Mukherji

3. Aishwarya Rai, Rani Mukerji and Preity Zinta (8/10): Aishwarya Rai showed a lot of promise with back to back hits ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’ and ‘Taal’ in 1999. She is considered as one of the most stunning female actors to have appeared on the silver screen. She later proved her versatility with Devdas, Dhoom 2 and Jodha Akbar. Rani and Preity started around the same time in 1998 and during 2001-2005, their stardom peaked with movies like ‘Saathiya’, ‘Chalte Chalte’, ‘Bunty and Babli’, ‘Black’, ‘Hum Tum’, ‘Kal Ho Naa Ho’, ‘Veer Zaara’, ‘Dil Chahta Hai’, ‘Koi Mil Gaya’ and ‘Salaam Namaste’. After 2005, it has been a tough ride for both of them, even as Aishwarya has taken a sabbatical post her marriage to Abhishek Bachchan.

Priyanka Chopra - Kareena Kapoor

Priyanka Chopra – Kareena Kapoor

4. Priyanka Chopra and Kareena Kapoor (6/10): Priyanka Chopra and Kareena Kapoor established themselves as Bollywood’s topmost actresses in the first decade of the new millennium. They rose to stardom by showcasing their immense talent in movies like ‘Aitraaz’, ‘Fashion’, ‘Barfi’, ‘Jab We Met’, ‘Omkara’ and ‘3 idiots’ to name a few. Both of these actors are currently very much active in the mainstream cinema and can add a few more feathers to their caps, but the shift towards the younger lot will not let it happen easily though.

Katrina Kaif - Deepika Padukone

Katrina Kaif – Deepika Padukone

5. Deepika Padukone and Katrina Kaif (7/10): Deepika and Katrina are vying for the top honors in the last few years. Deepika is having clear edge currently thanks to 5 back to back hits in ‘Cocktail’, ‘Race 2’, ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewaani’, ‘Chennai Express’ and ‘Ram Leela’. Katrina is also maintaining an enviable success rate as she has been a part of superhits like ‘Namastey London’, ‘Singh Is King’, ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’, ‘Ek Tha Tiger’, ‘Mere Brother Ki Dulhan’ and ‘Dhoom 3’.

As it is clear from the above mentioned groups, the reign of female actors is limited and the shelf life is decreasing as the years are passing by. While a Sridevi or a Madhuri was easily the topmost heroine for more than 10 years, it’s slowly getting harder to maintain the top position for even 5 years these days. The story is entirely different as far as the male department goes where Salman, Aamir, Shahrukh, who were the top actors during Sridevi-Madhuri era, are still ruling the roost.

Now the much promising next younger lot, consisting of Anushka Sharma, Sonakshi Sinha, Parineeti Chopra, Shraddha Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and others, have already taken giant leaps. This has left us with many unanswered questions

  • Will Sridevi/Madhuri remain the last genuine female superstars of Bollywood?
  • Can Deepika/Katrina or any one from the younger lot be able to revive the legacy of Sridevi/Madhuri?
  • Will there be a dearth of Male superstars also after the Khan era?

We are anxious to know your views on the above questions. Please share them in the comments section below. Also, let us know who was the most complete actress (both popularity and talent-wise) since the 1980s.

Article by Abhishek Sharma tweets @abhu_sharma

Who was the most complete star actress since the 80s?

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106 Comments

  • Hey,I think this list is very much true as these were the successful & critical acclaimed actresses who today also are talked about.According to time:
    Sridevi
    Madhuri dixit
    juhi chawla
    kajol
    karisma japoor
    Aishwarya rai
    Preity zinta
    rani mukerji
    Kareena kapoor
    Priyanka Chopra
    Deepika padukone

    other popular actresses include:
    Shilpa shetty
    Raveena tandon
    manisha koirala
    Sonakshi sinha
    parineeti chopra
    alia bhatt
    shraddha kapoor

    But all the above actresses are iconic & remarkable.Today also they are as popular and talked about as they were earlier.they all are female superstars.

    and in actors,the three khans and Akshay kumar,Hrithik Roshan are the remarkable superstars.

  • SRIDEVI Hits 69 Films 32 successfull

    1975 julie as a childstar (hit)

    1983 6
    himmatwala (blockbuster)
    judice chohadry (superhit)
    jani dost (hit)
    mawali (semihit)

    1984 6
    tohfa (superhit)
    maqsad (superhit)
    inqilab (semihit)

    1985 3
    masterji (superhit)

    1986 10
    karma (superhit)
    nagina (superhit)
    ghar sansar (hit)
    akhri rasta (hit)
    janbaz (hit)

    1987 7
    mr india (superhit)
    watan k rakhwaly (hit)
    aulad (hit)
    nazrana (semihit)

    1988 4
    waqt ki awaz (hit)

    1989 7
    chandni (superhit)
    chalbaaz (hit)
    gair qanooni (moderate)
    guru (moderate)

    1991 3
    lamhe (india disaster and overseas blockbuster)

    1997 2
    judai (semihit)

    2012 1
    english winglish (hit)

    Other AVERAGE Films List

    aag or shola,nigahain,khuda gawah,gumrah,ladla,army.

    MADHURI DIXIT Hit Films 71 films 41 successful

    1987 3
    uttar dikshun (hindi version flop tamil hit)

    1988 3
    teezab (blockbuster)

    1989 9
    ram lakhan (blockbuster)
    tridev (blockbuster)
    qanoon apna apna (hit)
    parinda (hit)
    mujrim (semihit)

    1990 9
    dil (blockbuster)
    kishan kanhayan (hit)
    thanedar (hit)
    sailaab (semihit)
    izzatdar (moderate)

    1991 6
    sajan (superhit)
    100 Days (superhit)
    prahaar (semihit)

    1992 5
    beta (blockbuster)

    1993 6
    khal nayak (instant blockbuster)
    dharavi (moderate)

    1994 2
    hum aap k hain koun (all time blockbuster) record breaker

    1995 3
    raja (hit)

    1997 5
    dil to pagal hai (blockbuster)

    1998 2
    bare miyan chote miyan cameo (superhit)

    2000 2
    pukar (moderate)

    2001 2
    lajja (india flop overseas superhit)

    2002 2
    devdas (superhit)
    hum tumhare hain sanum (semihit)

    2013 2
    yeh jawani hai diwani cameo (blockbuster)

    Other AVERAGE Film List

    dayavan,prem pritagya,ilaka,maha sangram,diwana mujhsa nahi,pyaar ka devta,sangeet,sahibaan,anjam,yarana,koyla,wajood,arzoo,dedh ishqiya.

  • karishma kapoor, al other are overly hyped, but one and only superstar was karishma kapoor, she gave most hits among al of dem.

  • 100% karishma kapoor, she was a beauty, she was hot, and she was a great actress too, and she was d most popular ever actress ever.

  • lol karishma is not compatible with sridevi,madhuri ledendaries ladies and karishma 1st film PREM QAIDI moderate success but not noticed and after that 93 with jigar and anari make her star status and no women oriented film till 96 and came RAJA HINDUSTANI and all time blockbuster and won best actoress award and madhuri films this year flops and sridevi army also below average and mr bichara flop but in 97 karishma doesnot stable no best nom with hits hero no 1,jurwan but in dtph best sup actoress,sup national award and sup zeecine 98 no film release and 99 is completely good for her with 4 hits biwi no 1,hum sath sath hain,janwar,hasina man jay gi and 00 fiza and 01 zubeda women oriented films and other all were flops

  • haha.. are you kidding me…. karishma was the box office queen, she ruled the bollywood, have 90% success rate, made govinda and sunil shetty superstars, govinda failed miserably wen he worked with other rani, aish, madhuri or urmila… all the craze in dtph was for karishma and not madhuri, madhuri is only PR made, in reality she was never popular, karishma gave biigest hit to aamir as raja hindustani, and when it comes to acting no one can match ever karishma in shakti and zubieda, madhuri was terribly bad in gulaab gang… and karishma was outstanding in terribly bad movie dangerous ishq,thats the difference… and which flops are you talking, even baaz, chal mere bhai was semi hits, flops was not in the dictionary of karishma after jigar, she ruled the box office and madhuri have nothing in her kitty except hum aapke hain kaun, whose all credit goes to suraj bartyaja… and karishma have many more and bigger superhits like raja hindustani, biwi no.1, dtph, hum saath saath hain, hero no.1 to mention the few.. so get ur facts right.

  • Johi chawla is best i like her style her acting and she is very innocent girl i like her movies i had watched aal movies of her i have alot of picture of her:

  • Don’t compare actors please. We are not playing CRICKET. All are good in their own ways. India is blessed with so many talented artists. Why we can’t just celebrate this fact. Think about it. Jai Hind!!!

  • I have 2 points to say:-

    1. How can you compare actors of different generation. The kind of films made today are totally different than those made in 1980’s

    2. In my opinion, Sridevi ji does not have the voice or the dialogue delivery that is needed for a superstar. I mean she still speaks in that shrilling irritating voice in English Vinglish. Her acting in general and her films are grossly overrated. Her last released movie English Vinglish is also way overrated. Actress like Kajol, Meenakshi, Madhuri, Shabana Azmi, Juhi, Tabu, Deepika are much better than her

  • None actress is as powerful as katrina
    She bought the revolution of hindi cinema
    She brought modernity in film industry
    She has her own style of acting
    The accent in which she speaks hindi is really very different from other actress
    She is really different from all other actress
    Nd in 10 yrs of her career
    She just gave 3 flops
    She is in no.1 position from 2005
    Which is just incredible being soo consistent
    girls follow her style
    she truly rules the industry
    nd she is far more powerful from actress like deepika priyanka
    we seen the results in the polls conducted by Madame Tussauds
    she has such a huge fan following nationally nd internationally
    heads off to her achievements

  • U can see that by her hit list of movies..
    1. Maine pyar kyu kiya
    2. Sarkar
    3. Namastey London
    4. Welcome
    5. Apne
    6. Partner
    7. Race
    8. Sing is King
    9. NewYork
    10. Ajab prem ki ghajab kahani
    11.De Dana Dann
    12. Rajneeti
    13. Zindgi milegi na dobara
    14. Mere Brother ki dulhan
    15. Ek tha tiger
    16. Jab tak hai jaan
    17. Dhoom 3
    18. Bang Bang…..
    .
    .
    .
    And many more to come….so its prove now she is the most succesfull actress of history of bollywood :)

  • don’t compare Katrina Kaif with anyother actresses…everybody knows that she is the most popular actress in bollywood…

  • Juhi I most underrated….
    As far as acting is concerned she over shadowed madhuri in gulab gang, kajol in ishq, Karishma in Andaz, manisha in I am
    now also doing versatile roles….simply best
    hit movies
    qsqt
    Lootere
    Darr
    pratiband
    Raju ban gaya gentlemen
    hum hai rahi pyar ke
    ishq
    yes boss
    Deewawa mastana
    zankar beats
    duplicate
    mr n mrs khaki

  • karishma kapoor is the most complete actress because the great emotional depth which she had shown in ‘FIZA’ cannot be performed by any other actress and the way she danced in the movie FIZA on the song ‘MAIN NACHOO BIN PAYAL’ was outstanding and no any other actresses can give such an outstanding dance performance , be it madhuri or sridevi.

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