The most popular actress names in Indian movies generally involve names from the Bollywood industry. However, for a long time, actresses from the South Indian movie industry, including Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam, have been part of remarkable bodies of work through their powerful performances. Having made a strong impression on their audiences, critics, as well as their industries as a whole, some of the powerhouse performers from the regional cinemas have now started venturing into the Hindi movie industry. This has naturally led to their comparison, in terms of performances, with the most prominent Bollywood actresses. Read on to find out about some of the South Indian heroines that give tough competition to the Bollywood divas:
1. Rashmika Mandanna:
Predominantly working in Kannada and Telugu movies, Rashmika Mandanna is also seen in various movies from the Hindi and Tamil movies. Known for her remarkable body of work, she has also received various awards, like a Filmfare Award South, a Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actress, and four SIIMA Awards. Some of her commercially successful movies include Anjani Putra (2017 movie), Kirik Party (2016 movie), Bheeshma (2020 movie), Pushpa: The Rise (2021 movie), Varisu (2023 movie), Yajamana (2019 movie), Pogaru (2021 movie), Sarileru Neekevvaru (2020 movie), Geetha Govindam (2018 movie), and Sita Ramam (2022 movie), among others.
2. Samantha Ruth Prabhu:
Primarily working in Tamil and Telugu movies, Samantha Ruth Prabhu started out as a model to support her degree in commerce. Debuting into the Telugu movie industry through the 2010 romance movie Ye Maaya Chesave, she went on to win several awards for her performance. Over the years, she has shined through with her acting performances in movies like Seethamma Vakitlo Sirimalle Chettu (2012), Dookudu (2011), Kaththi (2014), Attarintiki Daredi (2013), 24 (2016), Theri (2016), Rangasthalam (2018), Mersal (2017), Super Deluxe (2019), Mahanati (2018), Majili (2019), and A Aa (2016). Such performances have also earned her various accolades, like four Filmfare South Awards.
Active mainly in Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu movies, Nayanthara is a film producer and one of the highest paid actresses. With a career spanning over two decades, she has been part of over 80 movies, thanks to which she has won numerous awards like the Filmfare Awards South and the South Indian International Movie Awards. Popularly known as the Lady Superstar of Indian Cinema, she is one of the strongest names in the movie industry, irrespective of the region. She was the only South Indian actress featured in Forbes India’s 2018 list, ‘Celebrity 100’.
4. Anushka Shetty:
Working as a model and actress in the Tamil and Telugu film industries, Anushka Shetty is popularly known as the ‘Superstar’ of South Indian cinema. One of the highest paid South Indian actresses, she has received numerous awards like the Tamil Nadu State Film Award, two SIIMA Awards, two Nandi Awards, and three Filmfare Awards South. Having made her acting debut in 2005 with the Telugu movie Super, she went on to act in a number of successful movies like Vikramarkudu, Souryam, Lakshyam, Chintakayala Ravi, Arundhati, Vettaikaaran, Yennai Arindhaal, Deiva Thirumagal, Vaanam, and the Baahubali movie series.
5. Keerthy Suresh:
Appearing mainly in Telugu and Tamil movies along with Malayalam films, Keerthy Suresh is a National Film Award winning actress. Beginning her career as a child actress, she was first seen in the early 2000s. She then returned to acting after completing her fashion design studies. Bagging her first lead role in Geethaanjali, the 2013 Malayalam film, she went on to take part in various movies like Idhu Enna Maayam (2015), Sarkar (2018), Sarkaru Vaari Paata (2022), Rajinimurugan (2016), Bairavaa (2017), Nenu Sailaja (2016), Ring Master (2014), Remo (2016), Mahanati (2018), Thaanaa Serndha Koottam (2018), Miss India (2021), and Good Luck Sakhi (2022).
6. Nithya Menen:
A singer and actress, Nithya Menen made her first on-screen appearance as a child at the age of ten in the 1998 French-Indian English movie Hanuman. She was seen playing Tabu’s character’s younger sister in the movie. Over the years, she has been in over 50 feature films across languages. Then, she reappeared in the movies seven years later, at 17, through a supporting role in 7 O’ Clock, the 2006 Kannada movie. Other notable movies showing powerful work from her career include Nootrenbadhu (2011), Aakasha Gopuram (2008), Ala Modalaindi (2011), and Mission Mangal (2019), among others.
South Indian heroines have undoubtedly risen to prominence in the film industry, showcasing immense talent, beauty, and versatility. With their exceptional performances and magnetic screen presence, they stand on par with their Bollywood counterparts, making a mark that is impossible to ignore.