Queen of Bollywood?

Deepika Padukone for Vogue

Who is the true “Queen of Bollywood?” What is the criteria for being a “Queen of Bollywood?” Does the title really change every five years like actress Kareena Kapoor suggested in a recent interview?

Based on Vogue India’s coronation of Bollywood “It” girl Deepika Padukone on their September 2013 cover, the criteria seems to be; having a string of successive hit films under your belt, having a slew of loyal adoring fans, having the approval of the media especially the critic’s who review your acting improvements and your films and of course landing on the covers coveted magazines such of Vogue India frequently. Four of Padukone’s 2013 film releases (Chennai Express, Yeh Jawaani Hai Dewani, Race 2 & Ram Leela) brought in upward of 600 Crores Rupees at the Indian box office (a record for anyone) and she still has one more release to come (Kochadaiiyaan) next month. Her endorsement deals include representing Tissot watches, Garnier beauty products & Vogue eye-wear among many others. Earlier in the year she collaborated with international clothing brand Van Heusen to create her first limited collection for her debut clothing line. It is safe to say Ms. Padukone has had quite a prolific year. Now let us take a look at the annual track record actress Priyanka Chopra, an A-list celebrity who happens to be a close friend of Padukone’s. Chopra was named the new face of international fashion brand Guess, Launched two celebrated singles (In My City & Exotic) off of her upcoming debut album, became the new face of America’s NFL channel’s Thursday night football & back home starred in and made guest appearances in films one of which (Krrish) went on to become the highest grossing Bollywood film of all time. Why then is she not the ‘Queen of Bollywood?’ Why hasn’t any magazine crowned her on their cover? After all, she too had a successful year this year, is a National Award Winner & was critically acclaimed in her releases from last year (Barfi & Agneepath) as well. Or is the criteria strictly limited to the biggest box office business only?

If you did a Google search for…let’s say “number one Bollywood actress” even Sonam Kapoor (an actress more famous for her fashion statements than her films) would pop up in the midst of every other article. If you typed “Bollywood’s sexiest actress” out comes entertainer Katrina Kaif and her slew of FHM covers. If you typed in “number one Bollywood heroine” the battle between actresses Kareena Kapoor and Deepika Padukone ensues in the search engine and in between them are pictures of yesteryear #1 heroines Sridevi Boney Kapoor & Madhuri Dixit-Nene peppered with their media-invented squabbles. Type in “Bollywood Queen” and not even a single picture of Deepika would have popped up prior to her Vogue “coronation” cover, instead you would find Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan, the movie “Bollywood queen”  Madhuri Dixit and  Kareena Kapoor galore.


A true Bollywood Queen can and should withstand the test of time and is not affected by flops or shortcomings in their career, she always comes out on top and fighting no matter what & never seem to fade away like the flash in the pans who were once considered their competition(s). Her allure should not be limited to box office returns only but across the board domination as well. There is the Queen and there are the others. The true #1 heroine should in fact have no competition, the true Bollywood Queen should be unequivocally #1 even if the title seems to change every decade…

Bollywood Queens

Sridevi ruled the 80s (and we are still talking about her today)
Madhuri rules the 90s (and we are still talking about her today)
Aishwarya ruled the 2000s (and we are still talking about her today)
& now Deepika, Kareena, Priyanka and Katrina are battling it out to rule the current decade. To me it is between Deepika and Kareena. It is tough to tell now which one of these ladies is the standout who has no competition regarding her “Queen of Bollywood” title but perhaps in 2020 we will be able to look back and say who undeniably ruled the last decade.


Credit: BollywoodOne.Com, Filmfare, Noblesse & Vogue India Magazines



6 thoughts on “Queen of Bollywood?

  1. I don’t normally group these things by decade, more like a 5-year period. Didn’t Kareena say something along those lines too? Anyway, I’m not very familiar with Priyanka Chopra’s career yet, but Padukone’s films this year seem more balance- not only in terms of box office success. In terms of critical acclaim, they’ve gone from lukewarm to well-received… to super hits and surprise hits. Her reviews have also reached that level of “the film may be mediocre, but Padukone might be the best thing in it.” While Chennai Express was considered a SRK vehicle, Padukone was a strong element in its marketing – it even made its way down to Latin America for the both of them; Yeh Jawaani was a Kapoor/Padukone vehicle, while Ram-Leela could be considered a full Bhansali vehicle with probably a very strong character for her.

    Priyanka Chopra’s biggest hit this year is more of a Hrithik Roshan vehicle. Even though I did love her in Barfi!, but that was more of a Anurag Basu film than anything else.

    Then again, I’m new at this, so just giving my 2 cent outsider view.

    As a comparative point, this year Sandra Bullock could be named the Queen of Hollywood, with a successful buddy comedy (that was somewhat well-received), a sci-fi box office hit drama (that was more of a Cuaron vehicle) that very likely will take her for an Oscar. The last time she’s been in this position was back in 2009. But this doesn’t necessarily make the last five years Her reign. The last year and a half, Jennifer Lawrence seems to have taken the industry by storm.

    • Excellent analysis Amy, I agree with most of what you’ve said. The only thing is that in Hollywood, up five actresses/actors can be at the top at the same time and rule for many years like the examples you’ve given of Sandra Bullock and I’ll add Julia Roberts, Halle Berry, Meryl Streep, Angelina Jolie et. al. But in Bollywood, that element is reserved only for the male actors like the Khans (Aamir, Shahrukh and Salman) and as Salman Khan pointed out recently KOFFEE WITH KARAN, Hrithik Roshan and Akshay Kumar should also be considered as the Top 5 Bollywood kings along with the “3 Khans” of Bollywood. Salman Khan’s career began in the 1980s and he’s still relevant until today, this is the kind of idea I had when I wrote this article. To call Deepika Padukone (whom I absolutely love) is a bit premature of Vogue magazine when you consider the career longevity of others and the pre-100 Crore box office business era. Sure she’s without a doubt the entertainer of the year 2013, just like Jennifer Lawrence is in Hollywood but Lawrence is hardly the queen of Hollywood. Only time will tell. Look at Angelina Jolie, still the highest paid actress in Hollywood despite the fact that she hasn’t put out a film since 2010. There’s a queen candidate right there. In spite of flops and hits, she is still relevant and in demand. The same goes for Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan. Since Bollywood obviously cannot see it in the same manner as Hollywood does, I feel that the same rule book that is used to judge the men of Bollywood should be used for the women as well. Nobody calls Ranbir Kapoor the king of Bollywood, why should Deepika Padukone be called its queen?


      • I think it’s a matter of gender as well, even in Hollywood. The success of Sandra Bullock and Meryl are celebrated because – at least before – it used to be rare. Women over 40 are almost always dethroned by someone younger. Before Sandra Bullock’s 2009, she hadn’t been this talked about since… probably… Miss Congeniality. The more of a sex/beauty symbol you’re considered, the less likely you’ll get a good footing in your 40s or 50s. Look at Kidman, who was considered the pretty/sexy (and talented) one in Practical Magic alongside/against Bullock. Kidman shoot out in her 30s, but the pressure of keeping this perfect flawless face has hindered her 40s. I haven’t minded her last decade, but people really have taken a piss at her face and how she refuses to age, and yet when one ages, we take a piss at them for daring to age. lol

        I don’t think that happens, often, to actors. Look at Clooney or Brad Pitt (who has been looking bloated lately). It’s the same as the Khans, I think. Salman’s face gave me the creeps in Saawariya (xD). You don’t really see anyone saying Jake Gyllenhaal is dethroning Clooney or Pitt either. Young actors work their way up taking all the jokes until… like Matthew McConaughey, they suddenly get some respect. It doesn’t seem to happen to actors until they hit their 70s, like Robert DeNiro said… even Scorsese has replaced him with DiCaprio. It just happens a lot earlier in women.

        But like Shabana Azmi said somewhere… there’s more roles for older women than ever before. So, I guess, baby steps.

        As for Vogue naming Padukone The Queen… it’s Vogue. xD

        As for me… prior to this year, I had only seen her in Om Shanti Om, and I didn’t like her in it. But I did like her in Yeh Jawaani and Chennai Express, so I’m looking forward to Ram-Leela. I’d still be unsure on whether to check out the rest of her films. I just started watching Bollywood films this past July, so at the moment my movie heart belongs to Rani. ;P

  2. You make a good point with this argument but I’d still say that things are better for women in Hollywood and Bollywood (who loves to copy them) should take a page outta that chapter. Shabana ji is right but that door is slowly creeping open when it needs to move at a faster pace, things are changing rapidly for India this change needs to be reflected in all aspects of society. BTW, happy new year Amy! I’d love to read your opinion of RAM LEELA after you’ve seen it. In my humble opinion, it’s Deepika’s best work thus far. =)

  3. Excellent article…but one mistake. Aishwarya Rai never rules 2000s. Most of the other A list heroines had more hit films than her. She was more of media hype and PR. 2000s was not ruled by a single heroine, instead Rani, Priety, Kareena, Priyanka all had their share of presence

    • In that case Sujay, no one “actress” is ruling now? According to your logic you could probably name ten current queens of Bollywood but a true “queen of her domain” rules regardless of hits or flops, their star power transcends all platforms and remains resilient.

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