Top Hindi cinema actresses today: ranked according to their acting and power quotient
1. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan: Star Performer
She has immense star power. From an intensely wooden actress-cum-model to one of the most powerful actresses in Indian cinema today, she has come a long way. I believe Sanjay Leela Bhansali is responsible for turning her into a versatile performer. Post Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, she metamorphed into an actress with considerable histrionic power, only one which she needed to tune and control – she was prone to overacting at the time. After her Bengali cinema and Raincoat phase, she became a much more controlled performer – think Jodhaa Akbar. Besides being absolutely stunning to look at, she remains hugely iconic as a searing beauty and talented actress. She is very promising in the slew of movies lined up 2010: Robot, Action Replayy, Guzaarish…. She is both, star and actor. Which is why she still tops the list, despite being much older than most of the newer lot below.
2. Priyanka Chopra: All Rounder
She ranks in my list above Kareena Kapoor, despite the latter’s longevity in the industry, simply because Priyanka makes less mistakes and isn’t prone to overacting. Priyanka is a far more controlled performer, and a very balanced actress in terms of looks, charisma, versatility and acting. She is more an actor than a star, which in my books means a lot more than the other way around. She doesn’t have the raw talent of a Rekha, Madhuri or Vidya Balan, but she has a winning combination – versatility (proved with her movies ranging from Kaminey, Aitraaz, Dostana, Fashion to Anjaana Anjaani), a breadth of expressions and emotions, which prevents her from getting monotonous on screen, great vivacity – which makes her a hugely watchable actress – she suffuses the screen with her presence and a very earthy appeal. When styled well, she looks great too. Obviously she is a hard worker and a quick learner, becuase she is extending her range as she goes along, proving her mettle in the talent game. I believe we have great things to see from her, yet.
3. Kareena Kapoor: Drama Queen
Histrionics, over-acting, over-dramatization. These are, what according to me, hold Kareena back from being a fabulous actress. She has immense talent, and with the right director (think Imtiaz Ali for Jab We Met, Santosh Sivan for Asoka, Sudhir Misra for Chameli and Vishal Bharadwaj for Omkara) she turns into a powerhouse performer with controlled histrionics, without the annoying traces of Kareenaism. Kareenaism is fun to watch as long as it is in the limited avatar of Poo (Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham) or as the character of Geet (Jab We Met), but really not all the time. She brings a certain vivacity to the role, but more often than not, she remains more Kareena than the character (which is what Shah Rukh is also prone to do), making it wonderful for her fans, but not appealing to those who want to watch the movie and character unfold.
4. Deepika Padukone: Growing Stunner
Her smile (which reaches her eyes) and her dimples simply distract you through the film enough that you don’t really care that she isn’t doing much. That was Deepika Padukone in her first film, Om Shanti Om. Ever since then (despite making some terrible choices like Housefull and Chandni Chowk to China), she has worked to prove herself. She improves with every film she makes. There was not much difference in her roles in Bachna Ae Haseeno (where she delivered stilted dialogue) and Love Aaj Kal (where her dialogue delivery improved, but her character remained dull – due to the requirement of the script). In Karthik Calling Karthik, she began to open up with some of her old vivacity, and has really come into her own with Lafange Parindey. She is a fabulous clothes horse, great to look at, and an obviously hard worker and learner, but I do hope she doesn’t slide downhill with what appears to be limited expressions and a dose of overacting visible in the promos of Break Ke Baad, while Khelen Hum Jee Jan Se appears to be a promising role that would show off more of her newly-honed talent.
5. Vidya Balan: Talent Unlimited
What’s stopping this hugely talented – one of the most talented actresses we have today – actor from swinging it into the big league and top of the list is the lack of star power. She is an excellent actress and performer, but it looks like she will go the route of Tabu – critical acclaim, more art house than mainstream. She is wasted in candy-floss movies, and unfortunately candy floss is what builds mainstream appeal.
5. Katrina Kaif: Screen Diva
Katrina is hugely watchable – a great looker on screen, and that’s about it. But simply because she is so watchable, despite not being able to really act much (I only liked her in New York), she tries pretty hard and she’s won the audiences over in terms of screen presence.
Vidya Balan and Katrina Kaif share the #5 spot for diametrically opposite reasons.
6. Sonam Kapoor: Maturing Slowly
Sonam is pretty and lively. She fits the bill of an Aisha perfectly, she was great as Bittu in the horrendous Delhi 6 (possibly the only good thing about that film besides its songs) and she was watchable in I Hate Luv Storys, because Imran and she look so good together. However, she has limited expressions, which became very obvious in Aisha, because she faced so much screen time, and she needs to work on her breadth of expressions and quality of acting, otherwise she would remain typecast in the pretty-girl-next-door genre. And of course, a huge plus that she has unbelievable style. She can carry off a coarse jute bag and make it look stylish.