Kangana Ranaut, Priyanka Chopra, Alia Bhatt and others gave some powerful performances this year.
In the last few years, the audience is starting to witness a significant shift in Hindi movies. The formula that once had male stars at the forefront is not a formula anymore, and female actors have put in a lot of work to be the voice of change by picking up meaty roles. Things aren’t ideal right now, but they sure are starting to change.
2019 accelerated that process as we saw actors like Yami Gautam, Kangana Ranaut, Bhumi Pednekar and Taapsee Pannu among many others deliver impressive performances.
Here are the best performances by female actors in 2019:
(The list is in chronological order of film releases)
Alia Bhatt - Gully Boy
Alia Bhatt in Zoya Akhtar's Gully Boy.
As the title suggests, this was Murad’s story, but despite playing a supporting character, Alia Bhatt hit it out of the park with her portrayal of Safeena. She played the character fiercely and gathered a lot of acclaim for her performance. Safeena’s anger management issues in the film received some criticism, but as an actor, Bhatt made sure that you understood her society, limitations and family structure.
Bhumi Pednekar - Sonchiriya
Bhumi Pednekar in Abhishek Chaubey's Sonchiriya.
Bhumi Pednekar had four releases in 2019, but it was her performance in Abhishek Chaubey’s Sonchiriya which was quite extraordinary. Bhumi played Indumati in the film. As authentic as Chaubey’s world was, it was Bhumi’s understanding of the milieu that left the audience surprised. It is assumed that the job of an actor is to get into the skin of their character but we seldom see that happen. Here, Bhumi not only understood the world but made us root for her cause.
Sanya Malhotra - Photograph
Sanya Malhotra in Ritesh Batra's Photograph.
Photograph might have stayed under the radar for most of the year, but for those who have seen the film, Sanya Malhotra’s act as Miloni is quite unforgettable. Miloni doesn’t use many words to communicate, but her eyes did the talking. Her poignant performance as the girl who is academically brilliant but is searching for something deeper left a strong impact on the viewer.
Radhika Madan - Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota
Radhika Madan in Vasan Bala's Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota.
The story of this film belonged to Abhimanyu Dassani’s Surya, but Madan’s Supri left the audience wonderfully surprised. Her rawness added to the film’s unique appeal and with every scene that she performed, be it drama or action, Supri made sure that our eyes were glued on her as long as she stayed on the screen.
Kangana Ranaut - Judgementall Hai Kya
Kangana Ranaut in Prakash Kovelamudi's Judgementall Hai Kya.
Kangana Ranaut played a challenging role in Prakash Kovelamudi’s Judgementall Hai Kya. Her character Bobby was shown to be a woman battling mental health issues who gets drawn into a murder investigation. While the film had its own share of issues, Kangana did not disappoint. The portions where Bobby imagines herself to be a pulp film actress had Kangana at her best.
Vidya Balan - Mission Mangal
Vidya Balan in Jagan Shakti's Mission Mangal.
While Mission Mangal was largely promoted as an Akshay Kumar film, it was Vidya Balan who did the actual heavy-lifting in the movie. She played the person-in-charge of the Mars mission alongside Kumar. While the film wasn’t exactly what I had hoped for, Balan’s character stood out. Her scenes with her husband and kids and the way she balanced her home and work was in many ways true to reality. I found myself thinking during the film that I would have preferred to watch the film that had Vidya’s story at the forefront without the over-simplified science.
Priyanka Chopra - The Sky is Pink
Priyanka Chopra in Shonali Bose's The Sky Is Pink.
Priyanka Chopra made a comeback to Hindi movies with this Shonali Bose directorial. Inspired by the real-life story of Aisha Chaudhary, here Priyanka played the role of a mother who is grappling with her daughter’s illness while also trying to keep her marriage intact. The film was essentially a love story of the parents narrated through the eyes of their daughter and Priyanka gave a remarkable performance.
Yami Gautam - Bala
Yami Gautam in Amar Kaushik's Bala.
Yami Gautam has been around for a while, but it was with Bala that her talent was utilised. In Bala, Yami played Pari, a TikTok star who lives for appearances and isn’t afraid to admit it. With Pari, the makers could have portrayed her as the shallow woman who can’t see much beyond her beauty, but it was honestly refreshing to see a character who isn’t ashamed of what she is.