Break-Out Actress of 2018

I’ve decided I get to make up my own rules for this category. It’s not an actress whose first movie was this year (although there are some of those), it could also be an actress who had been around for a while but finally got noticed this year. And as always, I will make my nominations just to get the ball rolling, but you can write in your own votes too.

Nora Fatehi

Went from no one who’d been in a bunch of movies in a bunch of languages and never made a mark, to a sensation based on one hit song. Which rapidly turned into many more hit songs, and now a lead role in Varun Dhawan’s next film.

Radhike Apte

Arguably, her break out year could have been any of the past few years. But in 2018, she had the lead in a mainstream film, Pad Man, plus Sacred Games, plus her other Netflix series, plus Lust Stories, plus Andhadhun. She went from a cult favorite, to a household name, incremental step by incremental step.

Rakul Preet Singh

Again, around for a long time in non-Hindi cinema. But 2018 was the year she got her lead role in Aiyaary, plus signed the major films De De Pyaar De and Marjaavaan for next year.

Nushrat Bharucha

Again, around for a very long time. But working in smaller films, and Luv Ranjan comedies that the young people like and no one else watches. It wasn’t until the unexpected success of Sonu Ki Titu Ke Sweety that the mainstream Hindi industry sat up and took notice. Now she is signed for Hansal Mehta’s next parallel cinema hit, and Ayushmann Khurrana’s next sleeper hit comedy.

Disha Patani

Arguably, MS Dhoni was her breakthrough. Or, dating Tiger Shroff. But Bhaaghi 2 was the big box office hit she starred in, really starred, not sharing credit with another actress like in Dhoni. And now she is signed for Bharat.

Taapsee Pannu

She’s been around for ages, working in Telugu films, then had Pink, and my beloved Running Shaadi. But this year she had 3 major Hindi releases and one minor (Dil Junglee), plus a Telugu film. After Soorma, Mulk, and Manmarziyaan, she is definitely arrived in the Hindi industry, an actress to be considered for major roles.

Janhvi Kapoor

Far more famous for her personal life than her films. But that doesn’t necessarily mean she isn’t breaking through, she already has another major film signed, and everyone certainly knows who she is.

Mithila Palkar

Her Netflix series Little Things released, and she handily stole Karwaan from Dulquer Salmaan. After making youtube videos, working backstage for theater companies, and generally struggling, she has broken through to being a working actress.

Sanya Malhotra

Such an interesting year! Pataakha with Anurag Kashyap that was barely noticed, and Badhai Ho, the sleeper hit comedy. She made her mark as more than just the Dangal younger sister, and she made very good choices. A small good role in a very good film, and a large role in an unusual film with a powerful talented director. Next year she’s got a film with Nawazuddin directed by the Lunchbox director. Definitely making interesting choices.

Katrina Kaif

Again, she’s been around for a long time. But her performance in Zero, rescuing Bharat, and being so much warmer and more open in her interviews has me (and others) looking at her in a whole new light. Plus she ducked most of the Thugs disaster, if anything came out of it with people saying “Poor Katrina, stuck in this terrible role in this terrible movie”.

Sara Ali Khan

Best for last! Or, maybe not, you can vote for whoever you want. Sara waited almost until the end, and then landed with a 1-2-3 bang! First a spectacular Koffee debut along with other similar interviews, then Kedarnath which showed her effervescent romance heroine abilities, and then Simmba, a hit movie showing how she can support the hero.

So, what do you think? Which actress had the biggest leap this year?

24 thoughts on “Break-Out Actress of 2018

  1. This is so much more exciting for the future of Indian films than the discussion of who the nest male superstar is! My vote is for Radhike, who is a wonderfully talented actor and is suddenly everywhere. 2018 was a very good year for her!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, there is a male post going up later today, it’s less than half as long as this one. So many exciting actresses in 2018!

      On Thu, Jan 10, 2019 at 8:47 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

  2. It was a very good year for Radhika Apte but she was so popular that people get tired and started joking she is in everything, that’s why in my opinion Taapsee Pannu was the real winner of the year. 3 hindi movies, all good, and she was great in each one of them.


    • I’m pretty excited about Taapsee this year too. Good networking opportunities also, worked with Rishi Kapoor in Mulk, with Anurag Kashyap and Abhishek in Manmarziyaan, and with Shaad Ali in Soorma. Even if none of them were major hits, connected folks are now connected to her.

      On Thu, Jan 10, 2019 at 9:20 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  3. This is a good category. Tapsee Pannu very closely followed by Sanya Malhotra. She was so good in Pataakha & Badhai Ho-two extremely different roles where she had very different body language, dialogue delivery and everything.


    • I was surprised to see Sanya only has one film in place for 2019. I bet that will change shortly, more films will be offered to her. Heck, she could already be considering offers right now, after Badhai Ho did so well.

      On Thu, Jan 10, 2019 at 9:37 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  4. I’m fascinated that actresses like Radhika, Taapsee and Sanya are breaking out in the same way as Vicky, Rajkummar and Ayushmann. Even Sara, even though she’s a star kid, she’s not knock your socks off gorgeous and she can act so she could slide into the quirky low-key roles easily if she wanted to. Seems like more evidence of a shift in the industry.

    I wonder what Katrina will do with her new clout. Seems like now is the time to push to star in a franchise of her own without a Khan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The other interesting thing about these actresses is that they aren’t selling themselves as celebrities. I have no idea who Sanya or Taapsee are dating, and they don’t seem to want to make me care. They didn’t go to Dips and Ranveer’s wedding reception, they don’t go to award shows, they just do their work and disappear back into the world.

      I’d love to see Kat sell her own movie, and until this year I didn’t think she could do it. Not because of acting ability or star power, but because she seemed so unhappy with the interviews and personal appearances. But she did very well with the Zero promos, so maybe it is time!

      On Thu, Jan 10, 2019 at 9:53 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

    • I find Sara so average looking, I swear all indian audience cares about is “fairness” and skin colour, even with such average features since she is light she is considered pretty, if she was dark skin they wouldnt care about her


      • As someone who has no skin color hang ups, I still find Sara interesting looking. She doesn’t have regular features and isn’t stunningly beautiful, but her face is very expressive and I enjoy watching it. In still photos, she isn’t terribly striking, but on film her expressions and emoting make her hard to look away from.


  5. Tabu, I know shes an “senior” actress but I feel shes sooo underrated plus such a good actress, and does not get the credit that she deserves. I swear if she doesnt win best actress for Andhadhun and goes to one of Kjos star kids

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was thinking about putting Tabu on the list!!! I thought it didn’t make sense since she has been working steadily all along, didn’t really take a break and have a come back. But her performance in Andhadhun was so spectacular, I was torn.

      Glad to know I’m not the only one thinking that way.


  6. I already loved Radhika and Taapsee and feel like they both broke out more last year, but this year it was all about Sanya Malhotra and Sara Ali Khan for me. My one to watch is Mithila Palkar and I really need to watch Little Things.


    • I was disappointed to see that Mithila doesn’t have any other films coming out. She’s got another season of Little Things and that looks like it’s making her super popular, but no more movies. Maybe something will be announced in 2019, because I don’t want her to fade into just the digital space. Might be more artistically fulfilling for her, but I want more big budget movies with good actresses!

      On Thu, Jan 10, 2019 at 10:35 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



    • The exciting thing is, all of these women are positioned for a 2019 that is even better than their 2018.

      On Thu, Jan 10, 2019 at 12:53 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

  7. Taapsee for me. When I saw her in Baby, she didn’t really strike me as exceptional. Ditto in Pink, i though Kirti Kulhari and the other girl were as good. But in bothManmarziyaan and Running Shaadi, she was really good (I haven’t seen Mulk). She seems to be able to whip up great chemistry with all her costars too.


    • Your right, she impressed me in Manmarziyaan more than in Running Shaadi. And in Running Shaadi more than in Pink, and in Pink more than in Baby and so on. Exciting to think about what heights she might be able to go to in her next films!


  8. Radhika feels like my own personal discovery. I saw her in Antaheen when it came out, and then in I Am and Shor in the City—all great movies but I don’t know anyone else who saw them. So I felt sad that no one else knew about this great actress and her career wouldn’t go anywhere, and I was extra happy she exploded this year. I called it in 2009.

    I can’t wait to see Sara in something. She does look just like Amrita but she has Sharmila’s expressive eyes.


    • I’m waiting (probably hopelessly) for Amit Sadh to break through in the same way, so I can say that I called it back with Sultan and Running Shaadi.

      On Fri, Jan 11, 2019 at 7:22 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  9. Radhika Apte hands down wins this one. She was hardly mentioned before 2018, but that changed after her back to back Netflix shows. I think the internet memes about Radhika that exploded in 2018 says a lot about how she has become a household name (Atleast amongst millennials). Its going to be interesting to see Radhika Apte, Sanya Malhotra, Radhika madan and Taapse Pannu going forward. But, Its a real shame that only Radhika Apte is one of the few darker skinned actresses that made it. Its interesting to see how the breakthrough/ rising actors of this new generation like Vicky, Ayushman and Rajkumar are darker skinned than their previous counterparts while female leading actresses still need to be fair skinned.


    • I did notice that curly hair has broken through at least, even if dark skin hasn’t. Taapsee and Sanya both have a natural look with minimal make-up and untouched hair. Very different from the perfect blow outs and elaborate make-up of the 2000s actresses.

      On Mon, Jan 14, 2019 at 5:03 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



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