Celebrating 100 Years Of Indian Cinema: A Tribute To The Ten Most Memorable Actresses From Mumbai

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A Tribute To The 10 Most Memorable Actresses From Mumbai

As the nation celebrates 100 Years of Indian Cinema today, we at Mumbai Mag, decided to honour the ten most memorable actresses hailing from the “City of Dreams” who managed to transform their acting dreams into reality and left an indelible mark on Indian Cinema.

Meena Kumari
Meena Kumari, the quintessential tragedy-queen of Indian Cinema, was a beautiful, talented actress who did more than ninety films in a span of thirty years. Born in Bombay, in the year 1932, she entered the film industry at the mere age of six years to support her family during troubled times. Her evocative portrayal of the personal sufferings of Indian women, through the characters she essayed with a certain poetic tenderness, struck the right chord in the hearts of the audience. She was the first actress to win the Filmfare Best Actress Award in 1953 for her performance in Baiju Bawra (1952).

She continued playing the rule of the suffering woman in movies like Parineeta (1953), Dil Apna Preet Parayi (1960); and her role in the movie Sahib, Biwi Aur Ghulam (1962), apart from winning her another Filmfare Best Actress Award in 1962, also fetched her critical acclaim. Rajkumar’s dialogue, “Tumhaare paao…Inhe zameen par mat utariyega…Maile ho jaayenge,” from the movie, Pakeezah, is heart-touching and timeless. It took fourteen long years for Pakeezah to be completed. Three weeks after the release of the film, in 1972, Meena Kumari fell drastically ill and passed away in a nursing home in Mumbai on 31stMarch, 1972. A collection of her poems in Urdu, under the pen-name, Naaz, was published after her death. She was buried at Rahematabad Qabristan, at Mazgaon, Mumbai.

Nutan
“They don’t make actresses like her anymore.” – Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Considered to be one of the finest actresses of Hindi cinema, Nutan did more than seventy films in her forty years long career. She was born in Bombay in 1936. A former Miss India winner (1952), she started working in films from the age of fourteen years. She won her first Filmfare Best Actress Award in 1956 for her role in Seema. Some of the notable films she did include Paying Guest (1957) opposite Dev Anand, Chhalia (1960) opposite Raj Kapoor), Milan (1967), Saudagar (1973) and Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki (1978). Her role as Kalyani, in Bimal Roy’s Bandini (1963) fetched her immense praise from the critics, many of whom regard it as Nutan’s finest performance. Considered a path-breaking actress for the unconventional roles that she played, Nutan will forever hold a special place in Indian Cinema.

Tanuja
Like her elder sister, Nutan, Tanuja started her film career as a child artist. Although she started acting in lead roles from 1961, it was her performance in Guru Dutt’s Baharen Phir Bhi Ayengi (1966) that got her noticed. She is well-known for her performance in Jewel Thief (1967), Haathi Mere Saathi (1971), Mere Jeevan Sathi (1972) and Yarana (1981). She took a sabbatical from films after her marriage with Shomu Mukherjee but returned when the marriage fell apart. She has played supporting roles in movies like Saathiya (2002), Rules: Pyaar ka Superhit Formula (2003) and Son of Sardaar (2012). Apart from Hindi cinema, Tanuja continues to do Marathi cinema. She has also acted in several Bengali movies in the past.

Mumtaz
The heart-throb of many in the 1960s and the 1970s, Mumtaz is best-known for her performances in Ram Aur Shyam (1967), Patthar Ke Sanam (1967), Do Raaste (1969), Bandhan (1969), Sachaa Jhutha (1970), Khilona (1970) and Roti (1974). Critics regard Aaina (1977) as her best work even though the movie was not commercially successful. Despite doing brief roles, Mumtaz succeeded in winning the hearts of her audience with her charm and versatility. Filmfare awarded her with the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996 for her outstanding contribution to Indian Cinema. She has two homes in Mumbai, in Juhu and Colaba, but is currently living in London.

Zeenat Aman
Zeenat Aman revolutionized the portrayal of women in Indian cinema. Regarded by many as a “sex-symbol”, she received accolades for her performances in Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1972), Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973), Roti, Kapada aur Makaan( 1974), Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978), Insaaf Ka Tarazu (1980) and Qurbani (1980). Third runner-up in the Miss India contest, she was the first Indian woman to win the title of Miss Asia-Pacific in 1970.

At a time when women in cinema were playing the roles of demure, coy, obedient wives, Zeenat Aman played unconventional roles depicting the modern women of urban India who were seductive, confident and ambitious; and she is credited to having fashioned the image of the youthful and westernized women in Hindi cinema. She was recently in the news because there were rumours that she was all set to get married to a thirty-six year old businessman from Mumbai. While Zeenat Aman accepted that she was in a relationship, she denied marriage being in the cards in the near future. She, currently, resides on Mount Mary Road in Bandra.

Shabana Azmi
Winner of five National awards, for stellar performances in Ankur (1975), Arth (1983), Khandhar (1984), Paar (1985) and Godmother (1999), Shabana Azmi is well-known for her critically acclaimed roles in mainstream and experimental, independent cinemas. With a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, she is famous for her realistic portrayal of characters in movies and for playing intense roles. She is also a popular theatre artist. In recent times, she has done unconventional roles in movies like Makdee (2002), Morning Raga (2004), 15, Park Avenue (2005), Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. (2007), and Matru Ki Bijli Ka Mandola (2012). She attended Queen Mary School, and at present, she lives with her husband, Javed Akhtar, in Juhu.

Madhuri Dixit
Apart from being considered one of the best actresses of her time, Madhuri Dixit is also known as the “Dancing Queen” of Bollywood. Some of her famous dance sequences include “Ek Do Teen” from Tezaab (1988), “Dhak Dhak Karne Laga” from the movie, Beta (1992), “Chane Ke Khet Mein” from Anjaam (1994), “Mera Piya Ghar Aaya” from Yaraana (1995), “Kay Sera Sera” from Pukar (2000), “Maar Daala” from Devdas (2002), and “Aaja Nachle” from the movie Aaja Nachle(2007).

However, not many people know that Madhuri Dixit also has a degree in microbiology from Mumbai University. Famous for her dazzling smile, she has won the Filmfare Best Actress Award for her performances in Dil (1990), Beta (1992), Hum Aapke Hain Koin..! (1994), and Dil To Pagal Hai (1997). Her role as Chandramukhi in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas (2002) not only won her immense praise from critics and audience but also resulted in a Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award. Post marriage, she was living with her husband, Dr. Shriram Chandra Nene, in Denver in the United States of America. However, in 2011, she migrated back to Mumbai with her entire family.

Kajol
The leading actress of some of the most successful movies of her time like Baazigar(1993), Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (1995), Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… (2001), Kajol is famous for playing characters that are warm, real and very close to everyday life. She has also essayed unconventional roles in movies like Gupt (1997) and Dil Kya Kare (1999). Winner of six Filmfare Best Actress Awards, it is no surprise that Karan Johar considers Kajol to be his lucky charm and insists on featuring her in all his movies even if it is for a blink-and-miss part. Kajol attended a boarding school in Panchgani and she was even appointed Head-Girl. She, however, dropped out of school to pursue acting as a full-time career. Kajol lives in Juhu with her husband, Ajay Devgn, and their two children.

Rani Mukerji
Rani Mukerji attended Maneckji Cooper School in Juhu and holds a degree in Home Science from SNDT Women’s University. She entered the field of acting on her mother’s insistence and shot to fame with Karan Johar’s movie, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998); even though she began her Bollywood career with the social drama, Raja Ki Aayegi Baraat, in 1997. She has delivered powerful performances in movies like Yuva (2004), Veer-Zaara (2004), Black (2005), Baabul (2006), Laaga Chunari Mein Daag (2007) and No One Killed Jessica (2011). She is a leading actress of Hindi Cinema and has a list of awards and nominations to boast about. She managed to win over the critics with her performance in Saathiya (2002) and wooed the audience with Hum Tum (2004) that resulted in her winning her first Filmfare Best Actress Award.

Kareena Kapoor
Daughter of Randhir Kapoor and Babita, star-kid, Kareena Kapoor, or Bebo, began her career at the dawn of the new millennium in 2000 with Refugee; and she has already left a lasting impression on the film industry with her diverse roles in movies like Chameli (2004),Dev (2004), Omkara (2006), Jab We Met (2007) and Kurbaan(2009). She is regarded as a style-icon by the youth in India and is credited for starting the “size-0” trend in India. She is one of the few actresses who have always been openly vocal about her personal life in the media.

In a short span of thirteen years of her film career, she has already received five Filmfare Awards and several nominations. Kareena Kapoor attended Jamnabai Narsee School in Mumbai during her early years before attending a boarding school in Dehradun. She studied commerce for two years at Mithibai College in Vile Parle but discontinued to complete a summer-course in micro-computers at Harvard University in the United States of America. She studied law for a year at Government Law College before finally diving into the world of acting.

Well, this was our list. Do let us know who is your favourite?

Post By Divya Srivastava (4 Posts)

Loves exploring her surroundings, enjoys food and is always on the look-out for trying a new restaurant in the city. When not penning down her thoughts, she is engrossed in unraveling the obscure mysteries of life.

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Divya Srivastava

Divya Srivastava
Loves exploring her surroundings, enjoys food and is always on the look-out for trying a new restaurant in the city. When not penning down her thoughts, she is engrossed in unraveling the obscure mysteries of life.
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    My favorite? Cannot pick one lest I diss the rest.
    Instead I’ll pick a personal favorite film and song of each.

    Meena Kumari – Dil Apna Preet Parayi – “Ajeeb Dastaan”

    Nutan – Anari – “Tera Jaana”

    Tanuja – Jewel Thief – “Raat Akeli Hai”

    Mumtaz – Khilona – Bindiya Chamkegi

    Zeenat Aman – Yaadon Ki Baarat – Chura Liya Hai

    Shabana Azmi – Arth – Tujhse Naaraz Nahin

    Madhuri Dixit – Devdas – Didi Tera Devar Diwana

    Rani Mukharjee – Veer Zaara – Tum Paas Aaye

    Kajol – DDLJ – Mehndi Laga Ke Rakhna

    Kareena Kapoor – KKKG – Bole Chudiyan

    And last but not the least, an actress on whom I had a major crush,

    Nanda – Jab Jab Phool Khile – Yeh Sama