The late 1960's and early 1970's witnessed a subtle profile change in both the audience tastes and the personality of the new and  incoming heroines. Anger was building up in the country's youth at the failure of the political masters to equitably deliver the fruits of progress. In such scenario the Hindi screen was captured by a galaxy of trained actresses and in particular very talented actresses hailing from South India.This period also saw the rise of 'new wave' cinema or 'parallel cinema' which brought realistic plots of daily life on to the silver screen. Acting especially by talented actresses was to touch new heights.

One of the actresses who dominated this era was Shabana Azmi whose range of acting varied from a new wave film like Ankur to an out and out commercil films opposite super star Rajesh Khanna with whom she did seven successful films. Her first film was Parinay in 1974 bit it was Ankur in the same year that brought her into limelight as an actress of great talent and skill. She went on to act in a number of highly successful and acclaimed films like Swami (1977), Shatranj ke Khilari (1977), Amar Akbar Anthony (1977), Junoon (1979), Sparsh (1980), Umrao Jaan (2006), Godmother and the recently released Matru Ki Bijlee ka Mandola. She is married to Javed Akhtar and is involved in social activities.

The other new wave actor was the late Smita Patil who became one of the youngest recipients of the National Award for her sensitive portrayal in Bhumika at the age of 21 years.She entered the Hindi movies in 1974 and in 1976 established herself  Manthan, the story of rise of Amul. She went on to act in Bhumika (1977), Bhavni Bhavai (1980), Chakra (1981), Namak Halaal (1982), Mirch Masala (1987) amongst others. A very talented actress she had a very impressive screen presence. She passed away at the young age of 31 during delivery of her only child.

Down South a four year girl child made her entry into the world of Tamil cinema. She grew up to become the fine actress Sridevi. She made her entry into Hindi films in the hugely successful 'Julie" in 1975 as the younger sister of the heroine. However she got adult roles from 1979 onwards. In a career span ranging from 1967 to 2007 she has acted in 63 Hindi movies, 62 in Telegu ,58 in Tamil and 21 in Malayalam films. Some of her noteworthy Hindi films were Himmatwala (1983), Jani Dost (1983), Nagina (1986), Mr India (1987), Chandni (1989), Chal Baaz (1989), Lamhe (1991), Juddai (1997), and the recently highly acclaimed English Vinglish. She is married to Boney Kapoor and settled in Mumbai with her two daughters .

 But the most impressive was the dream girl Hema Malini hailing from Tamil Nadu. She had a dream debut opposite Raj Kapoor in Sapnoon Ka Saudagar in 1968 and went on to dominate the commercial Hindi cinema for the next more than two decades. Like other heroines from South she was also a very fine dancer. Her beauty captivated the audiences who flocked to see all her movies especially one's with the suoper star Rajesh Khanna. Her pairing with Dharmendra, Dev Anand and Shashi Kapoor were very popular. Later on her pairing with Amitabh Bachchan alos became very popular. She is best known for her role of Basanti in the 1975 iconic film Sholay. Some of her notable films are Sharafat (1970), Johny Mera Naam (1970), Amir Garib (1974), Prem Nagar (1974), Dharmatma (1975), Charas (1976), Meera (1979), Kudrat (1981) and, Bhagban (2003). She is now a memberof BJP and has also had a stint in the Rajya Sabha. She has two daughters and is now settled in Mumbai.

Yet another star from South to dominate the Hindi screen was Rekha. Born in 1954 into a film family it was a matter of time before she too would seek a career in films. She debuted opposite Navin Nischol in Sawan Bhadon in 1970. She went on to deliver hit films like Nagin (1976),the hugely successful Muqaddar ka Sikandar opposite Amitabh in 1978. Her other notable and successful films were Rampur Ka Lakshman (1972), Kahani Kismat Ki (1973), Namak Haraam (1973), Mr Natwarlal (1979), Khubsurat (1980), Umrao Jaan (1981), Silsila (1981), Khoon Bari Maang (1988), Koyi Mil Gaya (2003) and Krrish (2006). She is supposed to be also acting a role in Krrish 3. She is now almost retired from films and is settled in Mumbai. She is unmarried and is usually seen looking as glamourous as ever at the many Award ceremonies.

There are other actresses like Zeenat Aman, Parveen Babi, Jayaparadha etc. who also made their mark in the late seventies and eighties and we shall cover them in another follow up article.


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