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Special Feature: The Actresses That Shone In 2013

Countdowns are always difficult. As 2013 draws to a close, we handpick the actresses that made a mark this year, and gave their performances (irrespective of the length of their roles), that little bit more and came out trumps, making sure audiences took notice of their acting potential and not focused just on their looks.

Surprisingly, the usual suspects, the established crop, who always have a performance to boast of (Priyanka Chopra, Vidya Balan, Kareena Kapoor et al.) had nothing to harp about this year. In fact they were wasted in big budget duds (Satyagraha, Gori Tere Pyaar Mein, Zanjeer and the like) making us wonder whether their script sense had gone for a toss, or whether they'd just become lazy with their choices.

The list was quite difficult to pull together, some very obvious choices, some not so obvious, so read on to find out which of the reigning queens and/or newcomers made us do a double take and made the final cut.

Deepika Padukone – Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Chennai Express, Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela

Deepika Padukone in Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-leela

In case you've been living under a rock this past year, it goes without saying that the one actress who left the competition far, far behind in 2013 was Deepika Padukone. With a whopping five blockbusters under her belt (Cocktail (in 2012), Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Race 2, Chennai Express and Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela, Deepika undoubtedly gave all actresses sleepless nights and a run for their money. 

From being dubbed plastic and an awful performer, picture perfect DP shut each and every one of her detractors up, by not just delivering a series of record smashing films, but by proving that she could act too. Bar Race 2, Padukone was simply terrific in all her aforementioned films and perhaps the sole reason to watch them, whether it was as the bespectacled Naina in the cliched yet eminently watchable Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, the feisty Southern firework Meenamma in the record breaking Chennai Express, or the confident, no nonsense Gujju girl in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's sweeping romance Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela. Padukone has an unmistakable air of confidence about her in her performances now, which makes a pleasant change from the awkward forced performances she was shoving down audiences throats until now.

Filmmakers swear by her professionalism, and she's almost always the first actress on everyone's lips when a big film is announced. And why not? DP has come a long way, has a loyal fan following, is a tall leggy stunner and can act now too. 

2014 looks bright for the actress who has a variety of films in her kitty – from a strangely titled, slightly offbeat Finding Fanny Fernandes, an Imtiaz Ali romance which reunites her with her YJHD costar Ranbir Kapoor, and a hardcore commercial Farah Khan film Happy New Year which sees her with Shah Rukh Khan and Abhishek Bachchan. From the sounds of it DP's nailed 2014 too. Atta girl.

Sonam Kapoor – Raanjhanaa, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

Sonam Kapoor in Raanjhanaa

Unlike her contemporaries, Sonam seems to have taken her own sweet time to get noticed. She made her debut at the same time as Deepika, but its only now, after a series of disastrous films, that she's seems to coming into her own. She had a relatively short part in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, where she made the most of her limited screen time but it was in the sleeper hit, Anand L Rai's Raanjhanaa where Sonam shone playing a slightly manipulative Muslim girl Zoya. She's vulnerable, selfish and not entirely likeable, but Sonam did some of her best work here, and here's hoping she follows it up with similar performances in the next year or so. 

The talent's there. It's just not been entirely tapped into, so perhaps its just a matter of time before Sonam climbs the ladder of success and gets counted as a top bracket heroine and not simply a clothes horse and fashionista.

Sonakshi Sinha – Lootera

Sonakshi Sinha in Lootera

Featuring Sinha on this list may come as a surprise to many. She's been terribly typecast and is used as a mere prop in hardcore, big budget, masala films so why is she here you ask? One word. Lootera. 

In Vikram Adityamotwane's sweeping, poignant, period romance Sinha was simply matchless as the Bengali 'zameendar's daughter who loses her heart to a con artist who swindles her family off all their wealth. Her character could have easily been reduced to an unlikeable caricature, but Sinha gave it the right nuances which gave an insight into the volcanic talent at her disposal.

By far one of the most underrated performances of the year, we prefer this Sonakshi Sinha over the one that's been reduced to playing bit parts in male dominated, massy nonsense – cases in point R... Rajkumar, Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai Dobara, Bullet Raja et al.

Shraddha Kapoor – Aashiqui 2

Shraddha Kapoor in Aashiqui 2

Perhaps the biggest comeback from the depths of obscurity was that of Shraddha Kapoor, actor Shakti Kapoor's daughter. The actress made her debut way back in 2010, with a disastrous Teen Patti, after which she was seen in a Yash Raj production, Luv Ka The End, but that film too sank without a trace.

It was in Aashiqui 2, the biggest surprise success of the year, that turned the tide massively in this gorgeous youngster's favour.

She wowed critics with her disarming vulnerability in the doomed love story as Aarohi, a bar singer who falls for an alcoholic musician paid with equal gusto by Aditya Roy Kapoor, after which she was seen in a bit part in the Karan Johar produced dud Gori Tere Pyaar Mein, but even in that flaky film, she was perhaps the only thing worth watching, which can't bode well for the established stars she was sharing the screen with.

After DP, we'd say our bets are definitely on for Shraddha as the next best thing to watch out for in tinsel town. Up next? A Mohit Suri film opposite hunk Sidharth Malhotra and a Vishal Bhardwaj adaptation of Hamlet with Shahid Kapoor.

Parineeti Chopra – Shuddh Desi Romance

Parineeti Chopra in Shuddh Desi Romance

Parineeti has that spark about her – she was born to be an actress. Of the newcomers she's perhaps the most effortless, and her turn as the spunky Gayatri in Maneesh Sharma's Shuddh Desi Romance, is the sole reason she makes this list. Her cute chemistry with Sushant Singh Rajput, and her character's care a damn attitude in the film saw sail through to safety at the box office.

What's next? Parineeti has a film each with Sidharth Malhotra and Ranveer Singh, both of which hit theatres early next year, and we're waiting to see if this powerhouse performer lives up the hype that's surrounded her thus far.

So there you have it. The actresses that made us sit up and take notice in a year full of highs and lows – do you agree with us? Let us know below!

You might also like:

Film Review: 'Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani'

Not a ground-breaking film by any means, but it's been a while since we had so much old-fashioned, escapist fun at the movies!

Film Review: 'Lootera'

Lootera springs a pleasant surprise  – a rare gem, albeit a flawed one, that deserves at least a single viewing.

Film Review: 'Ram-leela'

Ram-leela is staple Bhansali – it's excessive, it's colourful, it's witty, it's visually stunning and it's perhaps the most fun I've had at the movies for a while. Go for it!

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