10 Best Bengali Actresses of All Time

The Bengali film industry has been producing some of the most iconic works through the history of the art. The artists themselves have been a huge cultural influence throughout generations. Dating back in 1932, it has been known to have produced critically acclaimed global parallel cinema and art films, with several of its filmmakers gaining international acclaim. Another important creation of “Tollywood” is actors.

The artistic industry has seen some of the finest actors who have masterfully gripped the attention of filmmakers like Martin Scorsese and Stanley Kubrick.

Frankly speaking, there is no way to constrict number of “best” Bengali actors. However, what can we do? For this list, I have taken in account the actor’s acting prowess, work, cultural prominence and of course, how may Satyajit Ray films the actress has starred in.

These actors have made me feel proud of being a Bengali, and so, here is the list of 10 best Bengali actresses of all time.


10. Sandhya Roy

A pioneer of Bengali cinema, this actress was a veteran in playing “character roles” with eccentricity and an enigmatic awe. Sandhya Roy gained fame for essaying sweet and bubbly characters, glacially transforming herself into a versatile actress.

Some of her acclaimed works are ‘Dadar Kirti’ (1980), ‘Ashani Sanket’ (1973) and ‘Thagini’.


9. Sabitri Chatterjee

A career spanning over 50 years, the actress has seen critical and commercial fame with some of the biggest personalities. Debuting in ‘Pasher Bari’ (1952), Chatterjee went on to star in Satyajit Ray’s ‘Pather Panchali’ (1955) and ‘Aparajito’ (1956), earning critical acclaim.

Following her initial works, she continued to give out praise worthy performances in ‘Subhada’ (1952), ‘Basu Parivar’ (1952).  The actress made a strong onscreen duo with cinematic great Uttam Kumar, starring in remarkable flicks such as ‘Lakh Taka’ (1953), ‘Kalyani’ (1954), ‘Anupama’ (1954), ‘Raikamal’ (1955).


8. Sumitra Devi

An exquisite beauty and a superstar, Sumitra Devi represented the woman of the mid 1950s, incarnating their supressed calmness.  Remembered for her sensitive women characters in Hindi films like ‘Mashal’ (1950), ‘Deewana’ (1952), ‘Mamta’ (1952) and ‘Mayurpankh’ (1954), she made a strong impact in the Bengali film industry.

Devi impressed all with ‘Abhijog’ (1947), ‘Pather Dabi’ (1947), ‘Pratibad’ (1948), ‘Joyjatra’ (1948), ‘Swami’ (1949) and ‘Devi Chowdhurani’ (1949); the actress got instant offers from the industry of dreams – Bollywood. Due to her immense fame and strong foothold over the audience’s hearts, she has starred in blockbuster films like ‘Dasyu Mohan’ (1995), ‘Saheb Bibi Golam’ (1956) and ‘Aandhare Alo’.


7. Konkona Sen Sharma

Konkona Sen Sharma is one of the most underrated actresses in Bollywood and Bengali cinema. The actress is a gift to us, a gift which we don’t deserve. The actress has an unbelievable critically extoled works throughout her career. One of the leading figures in contemporary parallel cinema, she has been known to be a favourite among the critics’ circle.

What makes her such a sensation, is the fact that she is the daughter of an immensely successful stalwart, and yet managed to break all odds.

The artist has received the National Film Award for Best Actress for ‘Mr. and Mrs. Iyer’ (2002) and the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actress for ‘Omkara’ (2006). The actress has had dazzling acts in Madhur Bhandarkar’s ‘Page 3’ (2005), where she played young aspiring journalist Madhavi Sharma; the schizophrenic Meethi in Aparna Sen’s ‘15 Park Avenue’ (2005) and desperate Shruti in Anurag Basu’s ‘Life in a… Metro’ (2007). Her most recent work, ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ has been hailed as one of the best in modern cinema. The multi-talented actress is also venturing into direction, with her debut directorial feature, ‘A Death In The Gunj’ (2017) receiving praise. It suffices to say that we should collectively pray that the immensely talented actor should continue to shine through in cinema.


6. Kajol

One of the raging stars of the nineties, Kajol was the leading lady throughout the nineties. Her array of works holds impressive records, winning six Filmfare Awards and the he Padma Shri to name a few.  She reined the commercial scenes, with ‘Yeh Dillagi’ (1994), ‘Ishq’ (1997), ‘Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya’ (1998), ‘Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha’ (1998) and ‘Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehte Hain’ (1999) being annual top grossers. Despite such success, the actress boldly accepted a role as the primary antagonist in ‘Gupt: The Hidden Truth’(1997), breaking numerous stereotypes.

The actress went on to form partnership as romantic duo with fellow legend Shah Rukh Khan, forming one the most celebrated and loved on screen couples in the history of Indian cinema. With him, she gave spluttering performances in ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ (1995), ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ (1998), ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham…’ (2001) and ‘We Are Family’ (2010), and established herself as one of the greats.

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