As cinema lovers, watching a stellar performance in a movie can be so fulfilling. Ask every movie-goer what she takes back from a film and she will tell you that it’s a performance that leaves a mark on her mind. This year saw some praise-worthy performances from our women folk—some who broke stereotypes, some who entertained to the tee and some who made a difference. Want to know who these powerful women are? Take a look.
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Bhumi Pednekar (Dum Laga Ke Haisha)

Bollywood has one unsaid rule—the heroine has to be skinny, gorgeous and a prop of glamour. That’s not to say that Hindi cinema hasn’t surprised us by changing this stereotype lately. There is a beginning of a change and it won’t be wrong to conclude that Bhumi Pednekar is one of the forces behind this revolution. After all, you need to be a firecracker to play an overweight girl who refuses to confirm, fights rejection and believes that she deserves to be loved just like any other (skinny) girl. Endearing in every way, Bhumi holds her own in a Yash Raj film and makes you fall in love every single time you see her sincerity on screen. It makes you believe that Bollywood might just open its doors to many Bhumi Pednekars in the future.

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Anushka Sharma (NH10)

Anushka Sharma came in as the typical Bollywood girl— a history of modeling, a massive launch opposite Shah Rukh Khan and a director like Aditya Chopra to guide her through. Seven years into her career and she can be immensely proud of doing some versatile roles. Well, one of them certainly is her self-produced NH10 this year. It was this film that made her a hero in every right—her depiction of an educated woman who’s suddenly lost in a land of horror and violence was sheer perfection. A picture of courage in every scene in the film, Sharma got out of her comfort zone and emerged triumphant through this movie. Not something you witness every day from a Bollywood actress, right?

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Deepika Padukone (Piku, Tamasha and Bajirao Mastani)

Deepika Padukone is the undisputed queen of Bollywood alright. First she got our love when she played Piku—a smart, short-tempered girl who shares a unique relationship with her ageing father. She gave us yet another reason to love her in Tamasha. Scenes where she plays the fun-loving Tara, shots where she exhibits her vulnerability as the girl asking to be loved, scenes where she blushes like a schoolgirl thinking of love—you connect with every side of her in this film. She rounded up the year with a bang in the form of Mastani in Bajirao Mastani. Her poise, grace, expressions, acting skills; nobody matches up to her talent. This year belongs to Dippy darling—no two ways about that!

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Sarah-Jane Dias (Angry Indian Goddesses)

Give an actor the right role and she can shine endlessly in it. This is the story of Sarah-Jane Dias is. If you thought this ex-Miss India was just another glamorous looking star in the movies, you should see how she surprises you in Angry Indian Goddesses. Seen sans makeup in the film, Sarah musters the courage to come out of the closet and embrace her homosexuality in the movie. It’s a film about fierce women and friendship and Sarah sure stands out with her natural act and uninhibited performance.

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Shweta Tripathi (Masaan)

A good actor does justice to a role even with little screen time. Case in point—Shweta Tripathi who made her debut with Masaan this year. An effervescent girl who makes a place in your heart with her chirpy nature and effortless acting, Tripathi is a cut above the rest when you think of other newcomers who make their foray into Bollywood with out-and-out masala flicks. If you’ve watched Masaan, you would know that she’s a natural in front of the camera—something that’s certainly going to do her good in her bright acting career ahead.