Bollywood actresses have time and again taken up the challenge of playing a prostitute in films. Essaying a sex worker is not very easy as a good deal of research is required to get into the skin of the character, to adapt the mannerisms. The role is bold, challenging and demands conviction on the actor’s behalf.
National award winning actress Vidya Balan is playing the madam of a brothel in her upcoming film Begum Jaan.
Bold. Badass. Beautiful. #BegumJaan.
Watch @vidya_balan‘s journey unfold on 14th March only on YouTube/visheshfilmsofficial! pic.twitter.com/7xghRcs1Xx
— Vishesh Films (@VisheshFilms) March 9, 2017
With Begum Jaan’s release date inching closer, Koimoi revisits B-Town ladies who have nailed it in a sex worker’s avatar in the past.
Tabu – Mumtaz – Chandni Bar
Tabu, who is known for her brilliant acting skills, was honoured with the National Film Award for Best Actress for her Performance in Madhur Bhandarkar’s Chandni Bar (2001). In the film, Tabu played Mumtaz Ali Ansari, a girl forced into bar dancing by her uncle after her family is killed in communal riots in Uttar Pradesh. Tabu delivered a powerful performance in the film, which highlighted the dark, gritty life of Mumbai’s bar dancers. The actress carried the film on her shoulders and from a helpless newbie in a dance bar to a matured veteran and mother of two, she portrayed Mumtaz’s journey beautifully. Chandni Bar is one of Tabu’s best performances.
Madhuri Dixit – Chandramukhi – Devdas
Graceful is the word that describes Madhuri Dixit. This extremely beautiful actress has won millions of hearts with her beauty. She has also proved her acting prowess time and again. Devdas (2002) is Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s adaptation of the Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay classic (1917) by the same name. In the tragic romantic saga, Madhuri Dixit essayed Chandramukhi, a golden-hearted courtesan, who falls for Devdas (Shah Rukh Khan), despite knowing that he is deeply in love with Paro (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) and will never reciprocate to her feelings. Chandramukhi is undeniably one of Madhuri Dixit’s most memorable performances. Right from her dance to her dialogue delivery and bewitching looks, Madhuri nailed it. The actress mesmerized the audience with her performance, especially her dance while at the same time making them empathize with Chandramukhi’s pain. The gorgeous actress won the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Devdas.
Preity Zinta – Madhubala – Chori Chori Chupke Chupke
A cute, bubbly girl who from no angle appears to be a hooker is actually one! That’s exactly where Preity Zinta scores as an actress. In Abbas-Mustan’s Chori Chori Chupke Chupke, Preity played Madhubala Sharma, a call girl hired to be a surrogate mother to Raj Malhotra (Salman Khan) and Priya Malhotra’s (Rani Mukerji) child, who eventually falls in love with Raj. Preity, whose character is the central point of the film, put in her best efforts. Her depiction of Madhubala’s transformation from a crass, cocky prostitute to a sensible and caring woman is remarkable. The film got a warm response from the audience and critics for its unconventional storyline.
Rani Mukerji – Vibhavari aka Natasha – Laaga Chunari Mein Daag
The Pradeep Sarkar directorial, which allegedly glorified prostitution, did not receive critical acclaim but Rani’s performance did. Rani Mukerji is a competent actress and nails no matter which role she is playing with aplomb. In Laaga Chunari Mein Daag (2007), Rani Mukerji played Vibhavari Sahay (Badki) a carefree, fun loving daughter of a middle class household in Varanasi, who becomes a high class Mumbai escort in an unfortunate turn of events. Rani Mukerji shows her class while portraying Vibhavari’s transformation from an immature, emotional Badki to a matured, highly professional call girl Natasha, who is also the breadwinner of the family. Laaga Chunari Mein Daag is not the only film where Rani played a prostitute. Her performance as an elderly prostitute Gulabji in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Saawariya (2007) also deserves mention.
Sushmita Sen – Basanti – Chingari
Sushmita Sen played a hooker in Kalpana Lajmi’s ‘Chingaari’. The story is about a single mother, Basanti (Sushmita Sen) who works in the village red light area to bring up her daughter and how she avenges the murder of her boyfriend by the manipulative village priest (Mithun Chakraborty). The film did not do good business but Sushmita etched a place for herself in the audience’s hearts with her powerful acting. Sushmita’s Basanti, despite being a sex worker, does not sell her self-respect, her pride. She is also a protective mother who tries to keep her daughter away from the dark, gritty side of her life. Sush tackles each of her avatars with panache and delivers an outstanding performance. Especially the scene when she screams angrily at the priest for calling her daughter a prostitute runs a chill down the spine.
Kalki Koechlin – Leni/Chanda – Dev D
Dev D is Anurag Kashyap’s contemporary inspiration from Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s novel Devdas. Kalki plays Leni, a high school girl who turns to prostitution after an objectionable MMS featuring her goes viral. Leni gets inspired by Madhuri Dixit’s Chandramukhi after watching a song from Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas on TV and names herself Chanda. Kalki made her Bollywood debut with this film and since then, there has been no looking back for this immensely talented actress. Kalki, who is also a celebrated name in theatres, nailed it as a call girl right in her debut film. She even bagged the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Kareena Kapoor Khan – Chameli – Chameli
Kareena looks too classy to play a roadside hooker, which she essays in Chameli. The first look of the actress in the film might give the audience this impression. But the way Kareena enacts the mannerisms of sex workers, right from their accent to body language to attitude— she is just bang on! Kareena won a number of awards for her performance in the Sudhir Mishra directorial including Bollywood Movie Award – Critics Award Female and Filmfare Special Jury Award. She essayed a sex worker in another film, Talaash. In the film, Kareena plays Rosie, a flirtatious hooker, who helps Inspector Surjan Singh Shekhawat (Aamir Khan) solve a case and in the process, grows fond of him. Critics found it a bit difficult to accept Kareena in the avatar of a prostitute, due to her princessy looks, but Chameli is remembered as one of Kareena’s best performances.
Shruti Haasan – Suraiya – D-Day
Shruti Haasan is a gifted actress and has mesmerised viewers with her acting skills many a time. In Nikhil Advani’s D-Day, Shruti played Suraiya, a Pakistani prostitute, who helps RAW agent Rudra Pratap Singh (Arjun Rampal) on his mission. Suraiya lives a life of pain and has accepted her life the way it is. Shruti delivers a powerful acting in her role in the crime drama, which won her critical acclaim. Shruti is an actress who nails every role with conviction and D-Day too was not an exception. She left the audience in tears with her realistic performance.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan – Amiran — Umrao Jaan
Has a courtesan ever looked more beautiful? I doubt not! Aishwarya’s incandescent beauty mesmerized the audience. The film failed at the box office and was criticised for being too lengthy and having unnecessary songs, but Aishwarya is the only reason why you should watch it. In the film, helmed by J P Dutta, Aishwarya played Amiran/Umrao Jaan, an ill-fated courtesan cum poetess, who falls in love with a rich Nawab Sultan (Abhishek Bachchan) but their love story meets a tragic end and she is cursed with a life of solitude. Aishwarya’s beautiful eyes are expressive enough of Umrao’s pain and the viewer can’t help but sympathise with her. She was the perfect choice for the role and excelled in her act.
Kangana Ranaut – Rajjo — Rajjo
Rajjo, directed by Vishwas Patil did not receive critical appreciation unlike most of Kangana’s films, thanks to its poor script, dialogues and over dramatic elements. Kangana has always shined as an actress and films like Fashion, Queen, Tanu Weds Manu add feather to her cap. In Rajjo, Kangana plays a seasoned prostitute residing in a red light area in Mumbai. Chandu (Paras Arora), a young boy from a good family falls for her. The film delves into their love story and the troubles that ensue. While Kangana looked beautiful in the various outfits she was made to wear in the film, her performance was not lauded.
Bipasha Basu – Bobby – No Entry
Bipasha played a call girl in the 2005 comedy film helmed by Anees Bazmee. Bobby (Bipasha) is a call girl hired by Prem (Salman Khan) to seduce Kishen (Anil Kapoor), who was threatening Prem that he would disclose about Prem’s girlfriend to his wife. Bipasha, an actress known for her hotness quotient fitted the bill perfectly. She dished out a pretty decent performance as a girl, who, is forced into the profession to take care of the treatment expenses of her ailing husband. No Entry, being an out and out comedy film, did not require the actress to perform any steamy scene though.
Neha Dhupia – Julie – Julie
Julie was surely a bold choice! Neha Dhupia did not disappoint in her performance as well. Julie included quite a skin show on behalf of the actress and Dhupia did not miss this opportunity to flaunt her beautiful figure. Neha essayed Julie, a heartbroken girl who chooses prostitution as a career. The film has steamy scenes and songs as well as hard-hitting dialogues. While Neha, then a newcomer in the industry, carried the look of her character beautifully, her acting was criticised for lack of experience.
Huma Qureshi – Jhimli – Badlapur
The beautiful Huma Qureshi is gradually carving out a niche for herself as a brilliant actress, which is evident both from her performance and her choice of films. In Sriram Raghavan’s revenge drama Badlapur, Huma played Jhimli, a prostitute, who helps Raghu (Varun Dhawan) reach his wife’s murderer by divulging information about her boyfriend Liak (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) in a bank robbery case. Even though Huma did not get a lot of screen space in the film, she played her role with conviction. Huma was nominated for her performance as a supporting actress in several awards including Filmfare, IIFA and Zee Cine Award.
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