Devika Rani, who starred in films like 'Achhut Kanya', 'Jeevan Prabhat', 'Karma' was the biggest star in the early 40s. Devika Rani defied conventional sensibilities even back then. Her on-screen kiss with her actor husband Himanshu Rai in the 1933 film 'Karma' is considered Hindi cinema's first.
Popular for her performance in 'Samadhi', Nalini Jayawant was a prominent face in Bollywood films from early 40s to late 60s.
Known for her roles opposite Dev Anand in films like 'Baazi' and 'Jaal', Geeta Bali was a star of her own right of the 50s. She married Shammi Kapoor in 1955.
Nargis immortalised love on the celluloid with Raj Kapoor in films like 'Chori Chori', 'Shree 420', 'Awaara'. But more than her romantic films, Nargis is still remembered for her role in Mehboob Khan's 1957 drama 'Mother India'.
The unparalleled queen of tragedy in Indian cinema, Meena Kumari brought forth the pain and sorrow in all the roles she played. From playing a wife of a womanizer in 'Saheb Biwi Aur Ghulam' to a courtesan in 'Pakeezah', Meena Kumari has given Hindi cinema some of its most iconic roles.
From serious roles in 'Bandini' and 'Sujata' to playful characters in 'Paying Guest' and 'Tere Ghar Ke Saamne', actress Nutan experimented with various roles on screen.
Rekha might have had a slow start in Bollywood with 'Sawan Bhadon' but she later gained popularity with films like 'Umrao Jaan' and 'Khubsoorat'. Rekha immortalised beauty on screen and considered one of the most stunning actresses of all time.
Another actress who challenged the norms and made a name in art house films was Smita Patil. She is remembered for her roles in 'Mirch Masala', 'Manthan' and 'Aakrosh'.
Many actresses came before Sridevi but she is the first female superstar of Bollywood. From 'Sadma' to 'Chandni' to 'English Vinglish', Sridevi has always proved her mettle as an actress on the celluloid.
Vidya Balan gave women-oriented films a new lease of life with her performances in films like 'The Dirty Picture' and 'Kahaani'.
Known for both art house films like 'Meghe Dhaka Tara' and commercial cinema 'Bagh Bandi Khela' and 'Komal Gandhar', Supriya Devi is one of the most popular names in Bengali cinema.
Jayashree Gadkar's 1959 Marathi film 'Sangtye Aika' created a record after it ran to full houses for more than 230 weeks. She became an household name in Maharashtra overnight.
While most of the actresses stuck to commercial cinema, Shabana Azmi chose to break the norm by making it big with her offbeat films. The actress gained recognition for her films like 'Arth', 'Mandi' and 'Sparsh'.
In the 90s, it was 'dhak-dhak' girl Madhuri Dixit who took the Bollywood by storm. With her million-dollar smile and her dancing skills, Madhuri slowly became Bollywood's most talented actress.
Sabitri Chatterjee is yet another popular actress of Bengali cinema. She was seen in films like 'Lakh Taka', 'Kalyani', 'Anupama', and 'Raikamal'. Her pairing with legendary actor Uttam Kumar was the toast of Bengali cinema in the 50s and 60s.
Asha Kale was associated with Marathi cinema from 1961 to 1988. Some of her popular films included 'Putravati', 'Maherchi Manse', 'Kulswamini Ambabai' and 'Ganimi Kawa'.
The star of 1950s and 60s, Nimmi gained popularity for her village belle roles. She worked with actors like Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand.
Saira Banu encapsulated beauty on screen with her performances in films like 'Padosan', 'Shagird', 'Junglee'.
Known for her style statement, sex appeal and hour-glass figure, Mumtaz became a leading actress in the late 60s. She went on to work with Rajesh Khanna in a number of films like 'Do Raaste', 'Roti' and 'Aapki Kasam'.
As we celebrate 100 years of Indian cinema this year, we tip our hats to the women from the various film industries who dared to chase their dreams against all odds. The pioneers often faced prejudice as stumbling blocks. We pay tribute to their relentless pursuit of art, hard work, talent and beauty.
Known for her roles in 'Mughal-E-Azam', 'Mahal' and 'Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi', Madhubala's beauty is what fables are made of. Her real name was Mumtaz Jahan Dehlavi but her screen name Madhubala stuck as she debuted at the tender age of nine to support her family. She is considered one of the most talented actresses of all time in Hindi cinema.
Keeping with the tradition of Bollywood in early 40s, Suraiya went onto become a singing actress. Her allure lay in her expressive eyes as she went on to become one of India's highest paid female star following three back to back hits 'Pyar ki Jeet', 'Badi Behen' and 'Dillagi'.
Sadhana did not just bring Audrey Hepburn's hairstyle to India, but the actress also starred in some of the most memorable films such as 'Aarzoo', 'Mere Mehboob' and 'Mera Saaya'.
Aishwarya Rai has not just acted in Bollywood films but has also charmed the overseas audience with her work in films like 'The Pink Panther 2', 'Provoked' and 'The Last Legion'.
Zeenat Aman redefined boldness on the silver screen in 1970s. From a dare to bare attitude to playing some strong women-oriented characters, Zeenat Aman gave a new definition to the Bollywood heroine in films.
Suchitra Sen is an iconic heroine of Bengali cinema. Her performance in 'Deep Jweley Jai', 'Uttar Falguni' and 'Saat Paake Bandha' were much appreciated. The actress also worked in Hindi films like 'Devdas' and 'Aandhi'.
Some refer to actress Madhabi Mukherjee as the muse of internationally acclaimed director Satyajit Ray. Ray cast her in 'Charulata', a role that she has won much praise for. Madhabi debuted with Mrinal Sen's 'Baishey Shravan' in 1960. Her acting talent is widely known.
Known for her ethereal beauty, Vanamala is one of the most popular Marathi actresses of all time. Her most popular Marathi film was 'Shyamchi Aai'. She even worked with Prithvi Raj Kapoor in Hindi films.
Sulochana Devi was a well-known actress of Marathi and Hindi cinema. She worked in 250 Marathi films, like 'Vahinichya Bangdya', 'Meeth Bhakar' and 'Dhakti Jau'.
Like many actresses of the 50s, Asha Parekh too started her career as a child star. The vivacious actress starred in memorable films of the 60s such as 'Jab Pyar Kisi Se Hota Hai', 'Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon', 'Teesri Manzil' and 'Caravan'.
The original 'Kashmir ki Kali', Sharmila Tagore portrayed many shades on screen. She had some of the hits of her career with Rajesh Khanna in films such as 'Aaradhna', Amar Prem' and 'Daag'. She was also the first heroine of Hindi cinema who was known as much for her sex appeal as for her beauty.
Waheeda Rehman was not just a timeless beauty on celluloid. Her acting prowess along with strong dance skills did wonders at the box office with her films. Among her most notable films is 'Guide' with Dev Anand.
Carnatic singer and Bharatnatyam dancer Vyajayanthi Mala shifted her base to Bollywood in 1951 with 'Bahar'. Later she received accolades for her performances in films like 'Anarkali', 'Jewel Thief' and 'Madhumati' and 'Sangam'.
Bollywood's dream girl Hema Malini took over the silver screen in early 70s. With some great performances in films like 'Johnny Mera Naam', 'Seeta Aur Geeta' and 'Andaaz', Hema Malini became an overnight star. But, it was her 'Basanti' character in 'Sholay' that made her famous among her fans in the 70s.
Another glamourous actress of 1970s, Parveen Babi was the fresh, new face of Bollywood in the 70s. She worked in films like 'Amar Akbar Anthony', 'Deewar' and 'Shaan'.
Bhanumathi made her debut in Telugu cinema and acted in over 200 films in Telugu and Tamil.
Padmini worked with Sivaji Ganeshan in more than 59 films. Known for her beauty and dance skills, Padmini also worked in a few Hindi films.
B Saroja Devi showed her acting prowess in Kannada film 'Kittooru Rani Chennamma' and even went onto win national award.
Telugu actress Jamuna worked in more than 198 films and was one of the most popular heroines of her time.
Malyalam star Jayabharti started her career in 1960s. One of her famous films was 'Rathinirvedam'.
Usha Chavan was a popular name in Marathi cinema in 1970s and 80s.
Ranjana Deshmukh had one of the best comic timings and went onto become the best comic actors in Marathi cinema.
Seema Deo is one of the most popular actresses of Marathi cinema. She made her debut in Marathi films with 1960 film 'Jagachya Pathivar'. She has also worked in Hindi film 'Anand'.
Aideu Handique acted in the first Assamese film 'Joymoti'. She received accolades for her performance in the film.
Saritha, who had made her acting debut opposite Kamal Haasan, was known for getting into the skin of any character she played. She was one of the few actresses who gained weight to play a psychotic role in 'Julie Ganapathi'.
Known for her glamour, Lakshmi Narayan became one of the leading southern actresses of the 70s. She worked with almost all leading actors of South cinema. She even worked in a Bollywood film 'Julie'.
Telugu actress Kanchana went on to work in more than 150 films in Tamil, Kannada, Telugu and Hindi.
Jayalalitha turned out to be one of the most popular actresses of Tamil cinema. She worked with Sivaji Ganeshan in 'Pattikada Pattanama', 'Galatta Kalyanam' and 'Deiva Magan'.
Known for portraying varoius emotion with subtlety, Sujatha was once one of the biggest names in Tamil cinema. She worked with actos like Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth.
Actress Pandari Bai was a prominent face of Kannada and Tamil films in 50s and 60s. She worked in more than 1500 films.
Assamese actress Jamuna Baruah was seen in a a number of Hindi films like 'Devdas', 'Manzil' and 'Maya'.