Deepika Padukone to get inked again?|Kareena Kapoor & Rani Mukerji in 'Talaash'

2012 has been a good year for our leading ladies. Gone are the days when they were mere showpieces on a hero’s arm and around for a couple of songs and mundane scenes.

The tables have turned. Now roles are written with actresses in mind and in a turnaround of sorts, actresses do guarantee returns at the box office.

It was tough for us to pick out the ones that stood out, but we at BizAsia did our best. So here we present to you the actresses that stretched themselves and made us sit up and take notice this year.

Priyanka Chopra – Barfi!۪

Priyanka Chopra in 'Barfi!'
Priyanka Chopra in 'Barfi!'

In one of those rare instances, an ultra glamorous star managed to pull off the unthinkable she shone in the role of an autistic girl with virtually zero dialogue and never once went overboard.

As the physically/psychologically disabled Jhilmil, Chopra wowed like never before and was lauded for daring to be different in a role where she had minimal make up and wasn۪t dressed to the nines to make an impression. The scenes where she wants to dress up like Ileana D۪Cruz۪s character or the soft tender moments between her and the title character are the highlights of this unforgettable film by Anurag Basu.

Beyond a doubt, Chopra۪s portrayal of was one of the most sensitive and nuanced performances of the year making her a sure shot contender at all the award ceremonies early next year. And it is incredibly well deserved. After some tepid turns, all we have to say is Welcome back PC!۪

Sridevi – English Vinglish۪

Sridevi in 'English Vinglish'
Sridevi in 'English Vinglish'

In what should be classified as the comeback of the decade, even after all these years, veteran Sridevi can easily teach the younger lot a thing or two on how it should be done. In this case it helped that Gauri Shinde had a simple yet compelling script to boot, but either way as Shashi, a middle class housewife learning the Queen۪s language on the sly, Sridevi was unquestionably brilliant, simple and nuanced in undoubtedly one of the best films of the year.

The climax scene in which she pours her heart out (in broken English), or those tender moments with the French chef, she brings a lump to our throats and makes us identify with the character. You or someone you know definitely have an aunt, maybe an uncle, or a parent that have displayed the characteristics that Shashi does – so her struggle in a foreign country without any knowledge of the language is all the more relatable.

She took nearly 15 years to come back. And all we can say is boy was it worth it!

Vidya Balan – Kahaani۪

Vidya Balan in 'Kahaani'
Vidya Balan in 'Kahaani'

If there’s anyone that۪s been consistent on the performance front and taking risks, it’s Vidya Balan.

This unconventional tale of a heavily pregnant wife searching for her missing husband must have sounded ridiculous on paper, but the conviction with which Balan plays her has to be seen to be believed.

The film made bucketloads of cash too despite starring no mainstream hero, proving that you don۪t need big stars for a film to work. All you need to have is a good kahaani to tell. And this film was all that and more.

To give credit where its due, ‘Kahaani’ wouldn۪t have made half as much of an impact had it not been for its gutsy heroine. As the anxious Vidya Bagchi wondering from pillar to post in Calcutta, Balan shone in another performance after 2011۪s The Dirty Picture۪.

Here۪s hoping to catch more of her in 2013.

Deepika Padukone – Cocktail۪

Deepika Padukone in 'Cocktail'
Deepika Padukone in 'Cocktail'

This is one actress we weren۪t expecting on this list this year. There۪s no doubt that Padukone has been consistent as far as the hits go, but besides Om Shanti Om۪ (2007), there۪s nothing on her resume that one can call a stand-out performance.

However, as the feisty it۪ girl with a heart of gold Dippy۪s Veronica had much more substance than just tits and teeth. As a girl that loses out on her love, and to an extent her dignity, Padukone۪s fictional character was so believable that it made an otherwise average Cocktail۪ a very watchable fare.

Of the current lot, she perhaps has the most enviable line up of films next year, and something tells us that Cocktail۪ was just the tip of the iceberg as far as her performances are concerned.

Looking forward to what this leggy lass has in store for us then.

Rani Mukerji & Kareena Kapoor - Talaash۪

Kareena Kapoor & Rani Mukerji in 'Talaash'
Kareena Kapoor & Rani Mukerji in 'Talaash'

Yes absolutely. It was supposed to be a list of five but, according to us, in this film neither of the two performances scored over the other. They were both integral to the script and these lovely ladies who۪d more or less been written off in their torturous heroine centric۪ films (Aiyyaa۪ and Heroine۪), redeemed themselves under the watchful eye of Reema Kagti. Or maybe it۪s when Aamir Khan is around, actors learn the art of subtlety. Either way, both Kapoor and Mukerji proved that they still have the chops when given a decent enough role.

As a grieving mother, Mukerji was at her understated and subtle best and her fiery outburst at her indifferent husband in the climax was one of the most believable, controlled and effective sequences by an actress in a mainstream film we have seen in a long time. Way to go Ms you are sill the queen of our hearts.

At the other end of the spectrum, Kapoor as a mysterious escort who ultimately turns out to be tortured spirit never takes herself too seriously and perhaps that۪s the reason why her Rosy works so well. Unlike Heroine۪ she isn۪t trying, she۪s just enjoying her part and though her role was quite far fetched, Kapoor delivered after a really long time.

So there you have it. Our list of the femme fatales that stood out this year, but as always there are a few who just missed the cut. Honourable mentions go out to Parineeti Chopra in Ishaqzaade۪. She was fiery and in crackerjack form even if a little raw. And Ileana D۪Cruz in Barfi۪ was simple, elegant and effective but that۪s one that definitely made the debutante list.

2012 proved how talented this lot are given the chance. Here۪s hoping that in 2013 we have more films that revolve around the ladies.

Hooray for Girl Power!