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DC Yearender 2016: Bollywood's knockout female performances

Published Dec 20, 2016, 3:25 pm IST
Updated Dec 22, 2016, 4:28 pm IST
The year has seen some unprecedentedly powerhouse female performances.
Bollywood has a very talented pool of actresses.
 Bollywood has a very talented pool of actresses.

Mumbai: 2016 has been a roller-coaster ride for Bollywood. While there have been seriously outstanding acts from veterans as well as newcomers, there have been equal number of major disappointments.

The year has also seen some unprecedentedly powerhouse female performances, in female oriented films, as well as ones with equal prominence for both leads. The concerned actresses received appreciation they rightfully had earnt and carved a path for future films and filmmakers to generate meatier roles for our very talented cesspool of actresses.


As the year has almost come to an end, we have decided to collate the knockout female performers of 2016, with the obvious contenders as well as the surprise entrants.

Knockout performances (Female):

Swara Bhaskar - Nil Battey Sannata


The powerhouse performer, who's been a critic's favourite, delivered a gorgeously measured performance in Ashwini Iyer Tiwari's 'Nil Battey Sannata,' early this year. The light-hearted film, revolving around a house-maid, who endeavours and is willing to go to any extent to fetch her daughter good education to secure her career, also won the audience's heart, thanks to its earthy and humane themes and credible performances. But Swara's performance was what stays in one's mind after watching the film, for the longest time.

Vidya Balan - Kahaani 2


While 'Kahaani 2: Durga Rani Singh,' the second instalment in Sujoy Ghosh's 'Kahaani' franchise, might have failed to live up to the audience's expectations, the actress's achingly distressed performance as the enigmatic and battered Durga, found some major patronage, ubiquitously. The actress, known for her natural acting skills and chameleon like ability to metamorphose into any character, delivers big-time, and lives the agonies of her character with with amazing authenticity.

Radhika Apte - Phobia/Parched


Radhika Apte has had a great year, professionally, with two of her performances winning widespread critical acclaim. Though her act in 'Parched' was marred with controversy, courtesy her naked scenes from the film being leaked prior to the film's release, her performance did ultimately receive the kudos it very much deserved. Her agorophobic act in 'Phobia' was equally appreciated. The actress also appeared opposite Rajinikanth in his monster hit, 'Kabali,' and managed to stand her own alongside the legend, with her nuanced performance.

Taapsee Pannu - Pink


Taapsee Pannu had caught Bollywood's attention with her crisp yet imposing cameo in Akshay Kumar's 'Baby,' so much so that she is all set to headline the film's second instalment, 'Naam Shabana'. However, it was her performance as the wronged woman, wrongfully accused of a crime she didn't commit, desperately seeking justice, that made the audience and critics alike, straighten up and take note of her immense acting credentials. The film went on to win a lot of accolades for its makers as well as lead performers, and sure did gift Taapsee a much deserved boost in her Pan-Indian film career.

Sonam Kapoor - Neerja


One of the biggest surprises of the year was Sonam Kapoor's performance as the eponymous Neerja Bhanot in Ram Madhvani's 'Neerja'. The actress, often accused of being hopelessly wooden, pulled a major shocker, with a carefully trodden and aptly vulnerable performance as the 23-year-old air-hostess, who went out of her way to ensure the safety of the passenger's of the doomed Pan Am flight, ultimately sacrificing her own life in the process. Sonam's incredible performance has pitched her as a serious contender to sweep all of the year's major acting awards.

Alia Bhatt - Udta Punjab/Dear Zindagi


Debuting in the most candyfloss role possible, Alia Bhatt hadn't really registered herself as a competent actor in the minds of the audience or the critics.But then came her second acting venture, Imtiaz Ali's 'Highway,' a performance by a 21-year-old so credible and superlative, that it all seemed to good to be true. Two years down the line, Abhishek Chaubey released his multi-starrer, controversy-laden drug drama, 'Udta Punjab'. The film saw multiple performances that got their deserved accolades, but Alia, with her migrant Bihari, far removed from her own sheltered reality, blew everyone's minds. Her unnamed character, a rape survivor, a young girl grappling with enforced drug addiction; too many tragedies, too difficult a role. But the actress owned it with exemplary precision, delivering a performance that's bound to stay with people for a long time to come.

Later this year, she also delivered a diametrically different, yet as supreme, if not better a performance, in Gauri Shinde's 'Dear Zindagi.' The actress, which each passing day, has establishing her immense bankability as a performer and a star.