India is a historically rich country and its past is full of people who inspire awe and fascination. While many of these characters may or may not have existed altogether (highly debatable), their intrinsic relationship with our culture, folklore and later on with our cinema has made them immortal.
Making a good period film is also a herculean task as maintaining a fine balance between authenticity and entertainment is a tightrope walk. Any apparent distortion, twist or divergence from 'facts' may lead to protests and undesired complications.
Nevertheless, Bollywood has given us of the best period dramas that throw light on the rich history of our country and the various kings, queens, princes, princesses and dynasties that existed hundreds of years back.
Here is a list featuring the best female historical characters, portrayed with immense perfection by our lovely actresses.
1. Madhubala as Anarkali (Mughal-E-Azam/1960):
Madhubala, also called Venus of India because of her ethereal beauty, immortalised the character of Anarkali in the 1960 film Mughal-E-Azam. She mesmerised one and all with her screen presence and her charm in iconic songs like Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya and Mohbbat Ki Jhoothi Kahani Pe Roye.
2. Hema Malini as Razia Sultan (Razia Sultan/1983):
In this Kamal Amrohi film, Dream Girl Hema Malini impressed everyone with a very convincing portrayal of Razia Sultan (1205–1240), the only female Sultan of Delhi and the story her speculated love affair with the Abyssinian slave, Jamal-ud-Din Yakut (played by Dharmendra).
3. Kareena Kapoor Khan as Rajkumari Kaurwaki (Asoka/2001):
In this Santosh Sivan directorial, Kareena Kapoor Khan played Rajkumari Kaurwaki, the princess of Kalinga, who's on a run with her younger brother after their parents are killed. She added volumes to the character through her brilliant acting skills and youthful charm.
4. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as Maharani Jodha (Jodha Akbar/2008):
In this Ashutosh Gowarikar film, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan played Jodhaa Bai, the fiery and headstrong Rajput princess who is obliged to marry Mughal Emperor Akbar (played by Hrithik Roshan in the film) for political reasons.
5. Priyanka Chopra as Kashibai (Baijrao Mastani/2015):
Desi girl Priyanka Chopra as Kashibai (wife of Maratha Peshwa Baji Rao I) in Bajirao Mastani portrayed her character with grace and dignity and was widely appreciated for it. She perfectly played the role of a wife who shows her sadness and anger after getting to know about her husband's love with another woman.
6. Deepika Padukone as Mastani (Bajirao Mastani/2015):
In this Sanjay Leela Bhansali directorial, Deepika Padukone, played Mastani- the daughter of Raja Chhatrasal and Ruhani Bai Begum who was the second wife of the Maratha Peshwa Baji Rao I. With her beauty and grace, Deepika infused life into this epic saga.
7. Deepika Padukone as Rani Padmavati (Padmaavat/2018):
Deepika Padukone as Rani Padmavati was beyond epic in this historical drama. She did full justice to the role of a fearless goddess queen, bedecked in royal robes and traditional jewellery.
8. Kangana Ranaut as Rani Laxmi Bai (Manikarnika/2019):
In this historic drama, Kangana Ranaut was mind blowing as Rani Laxmi Bai, the wife of the king of Jhansi, who refuses to bow down when the East India Company tries to annex her kingdom.
9. Kriti Sanon as Parvati Bai (Panipat/2019):
Kriti played to perfection the character of Parvati Bai, a loving woman who is a constant support for her husband Sadashivarao Bhau (played by Arjun Kapoor) through all ups and downs; and a fearless force that would go to every extent to defend her people.
10. Manushi Chhillar as Rajkumari Sanyogita (Samrat Prithviraj/2022):
In her Bollywood debut, former Miss Universe Manushi Chhillar played Sanyogita or Sanjukta, the daughter of Jaichand (the King of Kannauj) and one of three wives of Prithviraj Chauhan (played by Akshay Kumar in the film).