Meet These Gorgeous Indian Women Who Broke All Stereotypes

by | September 18, 2020, 15:58 IST

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They came, they saw, they conquered. This year, our list of India’s most gorgeous women looks at those who dared to dream, and made it big in the face of challenges. They ensured that the unstoppable fire in their belly only propelled them to go ahead and break stereotypes.
TEXT: ANSHU KHANNA
Beauty
Deepika Padukone

Deepika Padukone
Photograph:  Prasad Naaik

An incredulous combination of beauty and strength of character, she is athletic in built, slender in form and drop-dead gorgeous. Deepika Padukone, actor, activist, is possibly finding her way in the hall of legendary beauties wearing the same crown as the one flaunted by Madhubala, Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Munroe in the past. Aquiline jaw, almond eyes and voluptuous lips are the canvas of her expression. She sure is the modern-day dream girl who also raises her voice for the right issues, proving that true beauty is indeed skin deep. Be it her emulation of Queen Padmavati, her feisty role in Bajirao Mastani, her girl next door look in Piku or her fresh act in Om Shanti Om, Deepika’s beauty shines through in each role.
Priyanka Chopra Jonas

Priyanka Chopra Jonas
Photograph:  ROHAN SHRESTHA

The Quantico girl, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, is the only Indian actor to reach global acclaim. Priyanka’s is a persona only a handful are blessed with in this world. Whether it is an Armani power suit, a Dior gown, an Elle Saab Dress or even an Hermes scarf carelessly flung across a deep neckline, Priyanka can carry any look with inimitable elan.

Both in Bollywood and in Hollywood, she has held forth her position of perfection through the sheer grit of her personality, the depth of her acting. A lotus-eater and a global celebrity, Priyanka’s beauty is a matter of India’s pride.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

Aishwarya
Photograph: FARROKH CHOTHIA/ hello

India’s Ambassador at Cannes, the superstar who stormed cinema’s dynamic persona with her drop-dead gorgeous looks, a Bachchan bahu and also a classic Konkan beauty, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is a persona fables are made of. One that got her to bear an international title, walk the head ramp and model for many ads before she made her way towards movies, acting in many meaningful roles.

Aishwarya’s blue eyes are bearers of beauty worth a million dollars. Her’s is a face on which rest many, many brands. An actor who did immense justice to each role she played, today, as a protagonist of good cinema, a doting and devoted mother and a happy wife, she is a poem of perfection.
Kareena Kapoor Khan

Kareena Kapoor
Photograph: PRASAD NAIK/ hello

Unbelievably beautiful, her shining bright skin, pink cheeks, crimson lips and flowing tresses are what naturally beautiful fairies are blessed with. In her mother-in-law’s words, she looks as beautiful when she has tumbled out of bed. A prodigy of the Kapoor khandaan, a superstar, an equally super mom to Taimur and now also the Begum of Pataudi, Kareena looks like a maharani, born with expressive eyes and a sense of chutzpah that lights up her world.
Katrina Kaif

Katrina Kaif
Photograph: Prasad Naik

Possibly the most sultry siren in Indian cinema, she, half British, would also be voted as the most stylish, sensual and sorted actor of the current era. Katrina Kaif stormed on to the silver screen as the discovery of Kaizad Gustad. Debuting in his parallel movie, Boom, she bloomed through a row of hits, one after the other.

Her roles turned legendary for their sense of panache as did the looks she flaunted onscreen. Whether it was the Haute pink bustier sari in Singh is King, the chic and sporty look in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara or the personality transition she seamlessly flaunted as the British-born desi girl in Namastey London, what shone through in all these roles was Katrina’s splendid looks. Last seen in Anurag Basu’s Jagga Jasoos, opposite her Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina is a stunner if there was any.
Madhuri Dixit Nene

Madhuri Dixit Nene
Photograph: VISHESH VERMA

She immortalised dance as the dhak dhak girl, her smile lit up her perfectly, chiselled face as bright as the light from a million bulbs. Her spontaneous acting, deep voice and effervescent personality made Madhuri Dixit a superstar instantly. Khal Nayak, Tezaab, Ram Lakhan, Devdas, Dil To Pagal Hai, Gulabi Gang… the height of her fame and the depth of her performances has not been emulated till today. Nor has the poetic movements that her perfectly poised body is capable of. A row of hits, a controversy-free presence, perseverance to work hard and inborn ease with which she melted into each role got her fame at a young age. A need to create her own love nest, be a wife and mother prompted her to fly into near anonymity, to the US, Only to come back to regain her place in the heart of fame.  
Radhika Apte

Radhika
Photograph: ANEEV RAO/ grazia

Her drawl, her eyes that seem to dart through your soul, her calm yet deep demeanour and her near-real cameos in films have made Radhika Apte an icon of woman power. She is a girl who stands for the right causes and uses her talent in acting to get people thinking in the right direction. Radhika’s film sojourn began with a lead role in Antaheen. She gathered widespread praise for her supporting work in Badlapur and Manjhi – The Mountain Man. It was, however, the cameos she played in the anthology film Lust Stories of a professor ‘lusting’ for her student, the thrilling cameo in Sacred Games, and the brave role in horror mini-series Ghoul that catapulted her to instant fame.  Her dusky, intense look helps her blend into any role, be it that of a troubled tribal or a chic and sexy college girl. A muse to many designers who are vocal for local, Radhika wears both, a sexy sari tied below the navel and a chic and edgy brocade jumpsuit with equal style and panache.
Sharmila Tagore

Kareena Kapoor
Photograph: ASHISH CHAWLA/ hello

She arrived in tinsel town as a balika badhu in Satyajit Ray’s Apur Sansar, part of the famed trilogy. She then turned towards Bollywood, acting as a slender Kashmir ki Kali, a sultry siren for An Evening in Paris, a troubled daughter in Anupama, a wronged woman in Amar Prem and the defiant daughter in Mausam. Whatever role she played, her beautiful face that reflects the Tagore lineage, shone through, her dimples adding a sense of innocence. Carrying on her crusade in support of feminist goals, Sharmila, even as the Begum of Pataudi continued playing meaningful roles in cinema. At the same time learning music, playing the bahu, supporting noble causes and bringing up three great kids. Sharmila is a dream muse for heritage and hand-crafted design. Her love for fine things reflects in her cultivated understanding of art, her inherent style that adds volumes to any look she supports and the amazing depth with which she carries off a weave, a block print.
Diana Penty

Diana Bridal
Photograph: Taras Taraporvala/grazia

Diana Penty began her modelling career as an Elite Model, quickly making her acting debut in 2012 with the romantic comedy film Cocktail. Her role as a free-spirited runaway bride in the comedy film Happy Bhag Jayegi garnered her great praise, and the film too went on to become a great commercial hit.

Diana made her runway debut at the Indo-Italian Festival for Italian designers Nicola Trussardi and Gianfranco Ferré She also featured in print campaigns for some of India’s most prominent brands. Half Parsi and half Konkan Christian makes Diana look like a beautiful Anglo-Indian from Goa with a soft smile lighting up her face.
Ananya Panday

Ananya Panday
Photograph: Errikos Andreou (DEU: Creative Management)/graZIA

Daughter of actor Chunky Panday and entrepreneur Bhavna Panday, Ananya is a beautiful, young influencer, actor and model. A bright spark who expresses her views on a range of eclectic subjects, Ananya speaks with immense depth and exudes a poise that far exceeds her age.

An Instagram rage and one to rise to instant fame in the Bollywood’s gen-next category, Ananya’s dress style is edgy and sharp, understatement and subtlety emanating through every look she creates. A combination of her father’s pahadi, sharp features and mother’s cosmopolitan personality, Ananya is now all set to make her mark in the world of cinema.
Kiara Advani

Kiara Advani
Photograph: Meetesh Taneja

Her porcelain skin is a perfect eulogy to the fabled Indian goddess, personified in Raja Ravi Varma paintings. Her looks are near-ethereal. Kiara Advani is, at such an early stage of her career, proving that looks and talent do go together. Her skill in combining good acting with pristine perfection is getting her noticed by fans and critics alike. Her sharp Aryan features shine through in each of her cameos, be she acting as the demure, middle-class bride opposite Vicky Kaushal in Lust Stories, or her role as MS Dhoni’s love interest and then-wife opposite the dynamic actor, Sushant Singh Rajput. Hers is a delicate beauty, almost as if touching her will have this fairy evaporate into thin air. Kiara does the best justice to Indian ensembles and has found her way to most fashion glossy covers.
Aditi Rao Hydari

Aditi Rao Hydari
Photograph: Tarun Khiwal

A regal beauty who is half Bohri Muslim and half Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmin, Aditi Rao Hydari is the granddaughter of Akbar Hydari, The Prime Minister to the Nizam of Hyderabad and Raja Rameshwar Rao of Wanaparthy. Petite, pretty and pristine, Aditi’s looks are stunning. Starting with Malayalam cinema, Aditi stormed the Hindi film scene with powerful roles in movies like Padmaavat, Wazir, and Murder.

A skin that shines through, an aquiline jaw that flanks her beautiful sharp, features and a demeanour that exudes a personality of a woman at peace with herself, Aditi’s crowning glory is her erudite, educated personality and her affable self-confidence.
Sonali Bendre Behl

Sonali bendre
Photograph: Sarrvesh Kumar

A survivor who has lived her life with rare grace. Even when fighting the most devastating disease, her pristine beauty shone through. A mother, an amazing actor, the first choice for playing jury to emerging talent and wife to Goldie Behl, one of India’s most loved Director, Sonali Bendre Behl is a beauty first and everything else thereafter.

Right through her treatment, she exuded an air of such calm and peace, her son and husband always by her side. She set an exemplary example for others fighting the deadly disease to follow. For Sonali, reading books is as crucial as wearing a stylish sari with a stunning necklace and flashing that million-dollar smile. Beauty like hers makes life an endless celebration.
Mallika Sarabhai

Beauty

If you wish to see her soul, you simply have to peer through those expressive eyes of a danseuse. Her graceful body moves to a rhythm divine and her powerful voice is often raised in support of social causes. Mallika Sarabhai, a dancer, performing artist, activist and a scion of the Sarabhai Trust wears many hats, each one more intense than the other.

Mallika is behind many hard-hitting roles in theatrical works like Shakti: The Power of Women and Sita’s Daughters. She is a director and actor in numerous productions reflecting current issues. Her scripted play Unsuni based on Harsh Mander’s book Unheard Voices raises awareness amongst children in elite schools of the real issues facing India’s marginalised. Hers is truly a voice for women’s rights and a beauty that reflects through its soul.
Neetu Kapoor And Riddhima Kapoor Sahni

Neetu
Photograph: VISHESH VERMA/ hello

One is a feisty, free-spirited sardarni who emblazoned Indian cinema of the ’80s, the other a demure, perfect beauty of Peshawar. Mother Neetu and daughter Riddhima share a fire of perseverance that shines through their faces. An inner strength that the world witnessed on losing its evergreen hero, Rishi Kapoor: The husband Neetu loved at first sight and a father who meant the world to Riddhima.

Riddhima is a Kapoor beauty, her fair complexion and sharp features a reflection of the grace personified by the women of North-West Frontier Province from where came her grandfather and great grandfather. Married off at a young age to a leading family in Delhi, Riddhima is carving a niche for herself as a designer of petite and pretty jewels: charm bracelets, casual wear diamonds and strings. Mother Neetu, meanwhile, is proving the idiom true of ageing with grace. The girl with chutzpah whose pairing with hubby Rishi was legendary, Neetu as the young doctor in Amar Akbar Anthony, or as the girl with panache in Rafoo Chakkar etc. Today, the grandmom and mother to superstar Ranbir Kapoor, Neetu is an epitome of elegance.
Shobhaa De

Shobha De

Her charisma is inimitable and as glorious as the words that come together in her bestsellers. The rare beauty of her face reflects the depths of her feisty soul. Journalists who worked with Shobhaa De in the ’80s were witnesses to her strong grit and will to charter her own path in life. So stumped was the world with her looks, poise and personality, that she instantly had a trail of fans following her every whim and fad. A trail that has never diminished ever since.

An author, speaker, thinker and culture aficionado, Shobhaa enjoys being a mother the most. In her wardrobe can be found the rarest of weaves and heirloom jewels, collected over the years. Be it a rich Paithani that she got woven in the unconventional colour, black; a revived Ashawal or just a nice cotton check from Maheshwari, Shobhaa pulls off each look with her rare beauty.
Ayesha Thapar

Beauty
Photograph: ASHISH CHAWLA/ hello

An heiress, a protégé born with a silver spoon and a young lady privy to the finest life in Lutyens’ Delhi, Ayesha’s beauty took her to the centre-stage of crème de la crème existence. Her sultry looks and lissome body along with her intelligence and business acumen made this heiress the first choice for many glossy, society magazine covers.

A globally acclaimed head honcho, president of Soft Bank then, Nikesh Arora wooed this seemingly trophy wife who actually is as much brains as beauty. Today a mother and the gracious wife of this tech leader, Ayesha is at the helm of upper-crust life in Palo Alto.
Navya Naveli Nanda

Beauty
Photograph: Instagram

Sometimes a legacy defines you so strongly that you spend the initial years of your life matching up to your elders. After all, being the granddaughter of Jaya and Amitabh Bachchan, and Ritu and Rajan Nanda must be tough. Yet, Navya Naveli Nanda, a scion of the first family of business and cinema, exudes a humility that is rare. She is amongst the most popular star kids in B-town. The young lady has a huge fan following and is a paparazzi favourite.

Recently, she launched a platform for women, Aara Health, to discuss health issues and proudly celebrated her graduation. A best friend to her mother, Shweta, Navya can carry both an Abu-Sandeep ensemble as easily as a jeans and tee look. A carbon copy of her mom, though a bit of dad Nikhil’s complexion and sharp nose too, adds up to make this girl gritty and gorgeous.
Shobhita Dhulipala

Shobita

Photograph: Mansi Sawant/grazia

She is indeed made in heaven, her sculpted features shining through even when all she carries forth is a sharp red chiffon and jadau necklace look. The lead actor in the Netflix series Made in Heaven, Shobhita’s is a true beauty. Her sharp wit and great acting prowess adding to her looks.

A face worthy of launching a million brands, Shobita takes both her acting and modelling career very seriously and is simply poised to become the next star of meaningful, content-driven cinema.

Nature has given us all another chance to admire all things beautiful, and we all appreciate that. In this beauty special issue, we also feature all things beautiful across all our different sections. Our cover story is on India’s 20 Most Beautiful Women, and leading the pack is the stunning mother-daughter duo of Princess Diya Kumari and Princess Gauravi Kumari, from the royal family of Jaipur. Get set for all the festival season ahead! Download your free copy now.


Also read: Cover Story: Princesses Diya And Garuravi Kumari Of Jaipur Get Candid

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