The Finest 15 Anti-heroines!
Durga Khote/ Amar Jyoti (1937)
A strong woman, Durga Khote had a glorious career that spanned 50 years, which included acting, production and direction. Starting her career in Ayodhecha Raja (1932) she acted in over 200 films. Her powerful performance in Amar Jyoti (1937) made her an overnight star who was thereafter sought for woman-centric films. The adventure classic features Durga Khote in the most memorable role as the Pirate Queen. Faced with extreme patriarchel laws in an ancient seaport kingdom and denied the legal custody of her infant son, Saudamini (Durga Khote) becomes a pirate and declares war on the state. Shantaram directs this action-packed adventure film with an unusual feminist twist. It is a rare Prabhat film with stunts and action. Amar Jyoti has the distinction of being the first Indian film to be screened at the Venice Film Festival.
Waheeda Rehman / C.I.D. (1956)
Waheeda Rehman makes a stunning Hindi film debut in the film as a vamp. After a network of phone calls, the editor of the Times of India is murdered and Inspector Shekhar (Dev Anand) of the CID brought in to investigate. Aided by Master (Johnny Walker), Shekhar captures the murderer but is then taken to see a mysterious woman who warns him not to pursue his investigation further. The person who offers the bribe is Kamini (Waheeda Rehman). She spikes the drink offered to Shekhar, intoxicates him, and the gang leaves him on the street. She scores highly in the film particularly in the sequences where she tries to bribe Dev Anand or in the song Kahin Pe Nigahen Kahin Pe Nishana as she tries to seduce the villain and allow the hero to escape revealing her extraordinary facial mobility and dancer's grace. This was Waheeda’s debut in Hindi films and she is presented as an image of total female beauty. She would have a long career as a major star, first as a romantic heroine over two decades, then playing older characters. CID remains one of the best crime thrillers made in Hindi Cinema and was a huge success at the box- office.
Vyjayanthimala / Devta (1956)
Vyjayanthimala was one the biggest Bollywood stars in a career lasting almost two decades. She was also referred as one of the first female Superstars of Hindi cinema and was known as "Numero Uno actress" for her "illustrious career in 1950s and 1960s". In the year 1956, she acted in swashbuckler film Devta which was a remake of a hugely successful Tamil film Kanavaney Kankanda Deivam. Surprisingly though, she accepted a supporting role as a vamp which was originally done by Lalitha in the Tamil version. However, her role was very crucial in the film and her portrayal as the Naag Rani accompanied by her dance is the main attraction of the film. Also starring in the movie, reprising their lead roles from the original, were Gemini Ganesan and Anjali Devi.
Nanda / Ittefaq (1969)
Ittefaq, a remake of the British film Signpost to Murder (1965), is a superb crime thriller, starring Nanda in a negative role. With the police hot on his heels, Dilip (Rajesh Khanna), a mentally deranged killer, gatecrashes into a mansion inhabited by a housewife Rekha (Nanda) and holds her at gunpoint. For the next couple of reels, the film escalates the tension to fever pitch as the overtly sexy Rekha tries to free herself from Dilip's grip till Dilip discovers her husband's body in the bathtub. In a high-strung climax, the police break into Rekha's house to find Dilip and Rekha exchanging a flurry of allegations. A nail-biting battle of wits ensues. The film became a "semi-hit" at the box office and earned Filmfare Best Actress nomination for Nanda. The combative spirit between a seasoned performer like Nanda and the keen-to-prove himself novice Rajesh Khanna gives the film an edge. Nanda is the spellbinder here. Her character seems to be constantly in a state of emotional meltdown and she conveys it with a carefully controlled performance.
Hema Malini / Lal Patthar (1971)
She may be Bollywood's Dream Girl, but she proved to be a terrific villain in Lal Patthar. In the movie, Hema played Rajkumar's first wife, who displays her revengeful streak when he brings home another bride (Raakhee).In the film there is a regal splendor to Hema Malini in the scene where she stands menacingly next to a mounted tiger in the mansion. She is Madhuri, the unlettered, wild tribal woman, who the zamindar has tried playing Pygmalion to. When it’s apparent that she just wouldn’t do, he brings home a second wife. Madhuri is livid and doesn’t fall into the usual regressive mode of the proverbial sacrificial lamb. She calls him out on his double standards as a man, taunts him and berates him. The script does paint her as something of a virago but Hema Malini invests this character with a screen presence that makes her almost an elemental tigress of sorts.
Reena Roy / Nagin (1976)
The snake myth, which is prevalent all over India, is portrayed in this dramatic thriller. The legend says that it is fatal to injure or kill one of pair of mating cobras, because the surviving mate will pursue the killer to death and will not rest till it has its revenge. In this film, a pair of mating cobras, who have the power to transform themselves into human beings (Jeetendra and Reena Roy), are attacked by a group of hunters. The male is killed and the female vows that she will not rest unless each one of the killers is eliminated. How she murders them, one by one, forms the plot of this eerie thriller. A great thing about this film is the fierceness Reena Roy brought to the role of Nagin, so much attitude, spunkiness and fierceness in the very sense of the word no actress could have played the role better. The film became a huge hit, and Reena received her first Filmfare nomination as Best Actress.
Simi Garewal / Karz (1980)
Karz is a story that moves across two lifetimes. Monty, a heart-throb pop singer, discovers that in the past lifetime, he was murdered and duped of his empire of tea estates by his own wife. 25 years later, he encounters the murderer and a thrilling saga of karma and revenge follows. A feat of perfect casting was Simi Garewal, who made a strong impression in her role of Kamini Verma, the murderous wife from the past life, which won her a Filmfare nomination. The movie, which also featured Rishi Kapoor, got a stylish twist when Simi Garewal killed her on-screen husband within the first 15 minutes. The actress looked super glam in the various avatars that she donned through the movie. The film became the ninth highest grosser of the year, and declared a "Semi Hit" at the Indian Box Office.
Rekha / Khiladiyon ka Khiladi (1996)
Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi is about the deadly game of survival in a ruthless world of crime and sleaze. A criminal don, Maya, hosts illegal wrestling matches in the U.S. and has the full support of the American Police Commissioner. In this movie, Rekha played a female don who rules the underworld in a foreign country, but becomes weak when she meets the young Akshay Kumar, who incidentally has fallen in love with her younger sister, played by Raveena Tandon. This movie also makes it into the list of the top five commercial movies that Rekha has acted in. Rekha was nominated for best performance in a negative role for this movie, and she played the role pretty well. Playing the female don, she put on the right amount of sensuousness and badness to make the movie much more viewable than would have been.
Kajol / Gupt (1998)
Who could've guessed that the much-loved Simran from Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge could kill people without batting an eyelid. Kajol went on a killing spree in Gupt. She played jealous, unsecured, possessive lover who can go to any extent for her love. The versatile actress not only broke the trend of playing only gentle and positive role in films., but also played the negative character flawless and superbly. She also became a trendsetter by becaming the first female actor to be nominated in the category of negative role and win the Filmfare Award in 1998, along with many other awards she received for this role.
Urmila Matondkar / Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya (2002)
Be it Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya or the remake of Karz , Urmila Matondkar has always relished playing the bad girl. Of course, Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya was a far more interesting role. It had the glam gal falling for a charming photographer. However, all hell breaks loose when she gets to know that he is already married.Though the film 'Pyar Tune Kiya Kya' did not open well at the box office, the performance of Urmila Matondkar was well appreciated. She was nominated for Filmfare best villain award and was also nominated for the best actress in 2002.
Shabana Azmi / Makdee (2002)
'Makdee' is a gritty horror thriller that is likely to send a chill down the spine of many a young viewers. Shabana Azmi plays a bad-ass witch who is all out to kidnap little kids and keep them in a small cave. Of course, since the movie was for kids and wanted them not to believe in witches, it was eventually found out that the witch was just someone from a gang of thieves that used the cave as their hideout and did not want the villagers to find out about it. However, Shabana Azmi was in crackling form as the witch, as well as the gang leader. The role was not just mentally, but also physically strenuous for Shabana Azmi, because she had to put up a lot of prosthetic makeup for the role. The film, directed by Vishal Bhardwaj, won the second prize at the Chicago International Children's film festival.
Preity Zinta / Armaan (2003)
Armaan was a highly anticipated 2003 release mainly due to its cast. On its release, the film's production and performances were lavishly praised. Most of the praise was directed towards Zinta for her villainous turn. She does have the spontaneity that is required for the portrayal of Soniya Kapoor, who is a rich and arrogant schizophrenic woman used to have things her own way. The film received positive reviews and Preity was particularly praised for her performance. The film was screened at the Cannes Film Festival. This is the first time for Preity Zinta to play a vampish role. She received a Filmfare nomination for Best Villain.
Bipasha Basu / Jism (2004)
Bipasha Basu began her career on a hatke note. Her first movie Ajnabee had her conspiring with Akshay Kumar to get Bobby Deol into trouble. She followed it up with her seductress act in Jism , where she seduced John Abraham and convinced him to murder her husband. One highlight of the movie is its gripping plot that defys the Bollywood stereotypes and give something new to movie buffs. Another strong point of the movie is the way in which Bipasha's character is developed. Throughout the movie she is shown as an ambitious but vulnerable girl who is married to a man she doesn't love. But her volte-face in the second half when her true face and character is revealed is likely to stun the viewers. Sultry Bipasha Basu was very much liked for her negative role in 'Jism'. The film not only lifted up Bips career but also established her as one of the sexiest actresses in India. She was nominated for Filmfare best villain award.
Priyanka Chopra / Aitraz (2005)
A woman driven by desires, a faithful husband who refuses to succumb to temptations of extra-marital sex and a trusting wife who would fight to any length to win back her husband's honor and esteem - Abbas Mastan's thriller Aitraaz is a gripping film that entertains without resorting to usual Bollywood stereotypes. The movie starts off like any other ordinary love story (between Akshay and Kareena) but picks momentum with the introduction of Priyanka Chopra who plays a manipulative woman eyeing to seduce Akki for her own sexual gratification. Priyanka played a gold digger who was seen marrying an old man, but is keen to have a physical relationship with her ex-lover. The best acting performance in the film comes from petite Priyanka Chopra who seems to have gotten under the very skin of her vampish character. Her facial expression and body language aptly expresses the deviousness of her character. In history of Bollywood cinema no other villain was as sexy and hot as her. She won “Best actor in Negative Character” award of Filmfare and other awards for this role.
Vidya Balan / Ishqiya (2010)
Niceties be damned! In an industry where films can’t roll out of the rut of sweet saccharine romances, brain-dead comedies and insufferable dramas, Ishqiya comes like a storm which is explosively raw, ribald, gritty, grimy, and, most of all, real. Hoping to take refuge in the house of an old acquaintance, two runaway thieves, Khalujaan (Naseeruddin Shah) and his nephew Babban (Arshad Warsi) rather meet the man’s widow Krishna (Vidya Balan). Krishna uses her feminine charm to manipulate the shabby thieves into plotting a kidnapping. Before they could even realize, the uncle-nephew duo is sucked into an inescapable quicksand of love, lies and deception. Vidya Balan as Krishna is a bundle of contradictions. She was seen as a woman madly in love, as an object of desire, as a vision of purity and engaging herself in a lustful bout with another man. Putting in a superb performance, Vidya Balan won Filmfare Critics Award for Best Performance in Ishqiya.
I could go on for many more names of top level actresses proving that negative roles were not beyond their range. Bipasha Basu in Corporate, Kareena Kapoor in Fida, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in Dhoom 2 and Mallika Sherawat in Murder were all tremendous actresses, who with their powerful performance in negative roles mesmerize you to believe that vamps are always more fascinating than the good girls. But because of limited space I have only included, whom I consider to be, the finest 15 anti-heroines.