Life | Star Shine

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Star Shine
Text by Ameya Bundellu
Published: Volume 19, Issue 7, July, 2011

From refined features and remarkable talent to item girls and size zeros, Bollywood’s definition of starry beauty has changed over the years....

If one were to capture the kaleidoscopic glory of beauty in Bollywood into a slide show, an interesting and varied contrast would emerge – starting from the aristocratic Devika Rani of the 1930s to the glamorous Kareena Kapoor of the 2000s. Devika Rani was perhaps the first Indian actress whose alabaster beauty was praised by the foreign press. The Star, London wrote, “You will never hear a lovelier voice or diction. Or see a lovelier face. Devika Rani is a singular beauty.”

Like Devika, the 1950s heroines – Madhubala, Nargis, Meena Kumari, Nutan – were all prodigious talents who, in an era of black and white, conveyed a lot with mere changes of expressions. The following decades changed the face of beauty in a significant way. Actresses upped the glamour quotient of escapist romantic dramas. Vyjayanthimala and Waheeda Rehman stood out for their evocative eyes and beauty with a transcendental appeal.

But now, the vital statistics of the modern-day 21st century heroine could be lifted straight from billboards advertising the perfect fitness solutions – well-sculpted, lean, trim, fit, toned, size-zero and perfect faces and bodies with no traces of curves or scars whatsoever that commoners can only dream of. The likes of sassy screen goddesses who revel in rebellion such as Kareena Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Priyanka Chopra and Kangna Ranaut are the ultimate pioneers of this trend and yet these co-exist peacefully with a semi-glamourised Vidya Balan and the perfect flawless beauty that is Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.

What will come to represent beauty in Bollywood in 2020 or 2050, only time will tell, with change remaining the only constant.


Madhubala, the Venus of the Indian screen, for the droop of her kiss curl and her dreamy pining look on screen.

Hema Malini for her raw, earthern appeal.

Madhuri Dixit for her smile.

Zeenat Aman and Parveen Babi for nude make-up, more skin.

Sharmila Tagore for her dimples, bouffants, stylish wigs and coquettish eye make-up.

Vyjayanthimala and Waheeda Rehman for their evocative eyes, and classic features.

Mumtaz, Reena Roy and Rekha for their voluptuousness.

Jaya Bhaduri, Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil for their simple, de-glamourised girl next door look.

Karisma Kapoor for her light eyes and fair skin.




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