Rajkummar Rao: Mahesh Bhatt says Rajkummar is the best actor he has seen in years. And why not? After all, the actor has already pocketed the National Award for his performance as the troubled and anguished lawyer in Shahid. Even in Queen, which was a Kangana Ranaut film all the way, Rajkummar's understated performance as her fiance who dumps her a day before the wedding, stood out. His last release CityLights that has him playing a helpless villager trying to come to grips with a city life has won rave reviews. His next outings include Dolly Ki Doli with Sonam Kapoor and Hamaari Adhuri Kahani with Vidya Balan. This FTII graduate may have made a small beginning with Love Sex Aur Dhokha and Ragini MMS, but he is already making big strides in an industry that is usually apathetic to outsiders and favours its own.
Alia Bhatt: This cute little Bhatt girl came in like a breath of fresh air in the industry. Even as the audiences were being taken in by this Student Of The Year's impish beauty, came along Highway that revealed a different side of Alia. Her power-packed, mature performance, that too against a seasoned actor like Randeep Hooda, had the critics and the audiences giving her thumbs up. And, 2 States' roaring success has catapulted Mahesh Bhatt's younger daughter straight into the top bracket giving the Parineetis and Anushka's a run for their roles. Apart from her acting talent, Alia has also been making news for her impetuousness when it comes to answering questions. Her ignorance displayed on Koffee With Karan has put the actress at the centre of some unsavoury jokes. But, full marks to Alia, who instead of getting rattled just laughs it off. After all, the joke is on them! Being on top-of-the-game at her age is something only people can dream of.
Ranveer Singh: Known as the brat of the industry, Ranveer Singh has always grabbed headlines. Be it for rubbing heroines the wrong way with his over-enthusiastic greetings, his proclamations of love for Deepika Padukone or for being the first A-lister to endorse a condom brand. One thing's for sure, the actor never shies away from telling it like it is. Add to it, his boundless energy and unquestionable talent and Ranveer reminds you of Shah Rukh Khan from his younger days. Right from Band Baaja Baaraat to Ram Leela, Ranveer has proved to be a director's actor and a viewers' delight. He is currently filming for Zoya Akhtar's Dil Dhadakne Do in which his Gunday co-star Priyanka Chopra plays his sister. Just like SRK and Aishwarya Rai did in Josh and later turned lovers in Mobhabbatein. Ranveer's also doing Sanjay Leela Bhansali's next Bajirao Mastani which has him playing the Maratha warrior, that earlier was to be essayed by Salman Khan. Now whether he fits Khan's shoes, literally and figuratively, only time will tell, but he sure is on the right track!
Kangana Ranaut: A porcelain beauty from the hills - she hails from Himachal Pradesh - Kangana Ranaut has the ability to surprise you at every turn. Her very first film Gangster had her playing a complex role, that of an alcoholic woman caught in a romantic triangle, but Kangana's realistic performance won acclaim. That set the ball rolling for the unconventional Bolly heroine to do some intense roles. Very early on in her career, the pretty actress won the National Award for her performance in Fashion and has been known to do "roles that emotionally drained her". Tanu Weds Manu, a romantic comedy proved to be a game-changer. Though she followed it up with some forgettable glam roles in Rascals, Game, Double Dhamaal etc, her act as a superwoman in Krrish 3 turned out to be one of the most memorable characters of the film! With Queen, Kangana has established her position at the top and is known, alongside Vidya Balan, as an actress who holds her own in the Khan bastion. This small-town beauty is also hailed as the most stylish celebrity in B-Town. Dogged by negative publicity over her love affairs in her earlier days, the fiesty and independent Kangana has clearly moved on and triumphed just like her Rani did in Queen!
Sonam Kapoor: Her last release Bewakoofiyan didn't do anything to her career, but Anil Kapoor's elder daughter has a lot going for her. The Khoobsurat remake in which she reprises Rekha's role, the romcom Dolly Ki Doli and a Sooraj Barjatya film Prem Ratan Dhan Payo opposite Salman Khan. Besides her acting career, Sonam is a celebrated fashionista, who freely experiments with her look. She is known for her sartorial statements and her latest red carpet appearance at the Cannes Film Festival was a winner. She scored with both her traditional attire and a ball-gown kind of outfit. She was also the butt of jokes on the social media for her her oft-repeated line 'you know what I mean' on Koffee With Karan. A funny song video was uploaded using all her selfies interspersed with the different ways the leggy actress said 'you know what I mean'. When she got to know of it, the irrepresible actress not only took the spoof in her stride, but she called it funny and tweeted!
Shahid Kapoor: He is one actor who is under-rated and probably yet to get his due. Things started looking up for the actor who was beleagured with a series of flops -Mausam, Teri Meri Kahani and Phata Poster Niklla Hero, when his R..Rajkumar became a resounding hit last year. His next outing is Haider that unites him with Vishal Bhardwaj, who gave him the neo-noir Kaminey that won him critical acclaim as well as commercial success. He will also be starring in Vikas 'Queen' Bahl's next, a destination wedding film Shaandaar. And he has none other than the current hot favourite Alia Bhatt opposite him. Considered competition to Ranbir Kapoor at one point, looks like finally Shahid is finally turning the corner.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan: This former Miss World shut the mouth of all the naysayers with her sensational appearance at Cannes Film festival this year. Harshly criticised for her weight post-motherhood, Aishwarya proved her detractors wrong when she appeared in a sexy slim avatar. She had the media eating out of her hands when she graced the red carpet in a stunning off-shoulder Roberto Cavalli fishtail gown. Aishwarya looked every bit the curvy mermaid and her bright red lips blowing flying kisses had men drooling over. Even hubby Abhishek couldn't resist tweeting, "Almost 52 hours without sleep! Eyes shutting… and the Mrs. Shows up looking like this!! Ok. Eyes wide open now!" The actress is set make a comeback to the arclights with her first director Mani Ratnam's forthcoming South film and Sanjay Gupta's action-thriller Jazbaa.
Kiran Rao: She could have been easily overshadowed by her superstar husband Aamir Khan, but this petite producer-director has held her own. Having started out as an assistant to Ashutosh Gowariker and Mira Nair, Kiran's first directorial venture was Dhobi Ghat. Kiran who has produced several Aamir films grabbed headlines when she supported independent filmmaker Anand Gandhi for his film Ship of Theseus. She was instrumental in bringing the internationally-acclaimed film to the Indian audiences. Not only did she actively promote it but she also presented it. More power to her!
Priyanka Chopra: In the last two years, Priyanka Chopra has added several feathers to her glorious cap. The actress turned singer in 2012 and in collaboration with international artistes Sam Watters, Matthew Koma and Jay Sean released her first single My City that also featured American rap singer will.i.am. It debuted on NFL Network's Thursday Night Football, and a shortened version of the song was used to open each show of the season. She followed it up with two singles Exotic featuring Pitbull and the latest is I Can't Make You Love Me, a cover of Bonnie Raitt's song released this April. Apart from her singing career, Priyanka has taken up the challenge of playing Olympic medallist and boxing champion Mary Kom in a film based on her. The actress not only learnt the tough sport, she also spent a lot of time with the champion to get all the nuances right and essay the character. She is currently filming Dil Dhadakne Do co-starring Ranveer Singh. He had played her romantic interest in Gunday, and in this will be seen as her brother! PC's certainly pulling all punches to stay on-top-of-the-game!
Abhishek Bachchan: He starred in the highest grossing Bollywood film of all time - Dhoom 3 and is the only actor apart from Uday Chopra to appear in the Dhoom series made so far. Currently, the junior Bachchan is filming for All Is Well that co-stars Asin. Also, to Abhishek goes the credit of investing in a lesser known desi sport Kabbadi. He has bought the Jaipur team for the Pro Kabbadi League tournament to be held in eight centres across the country in July and August. Unlike other actors who have opted to invest in the glamorous game of cricket, Abhishek is lending his name to a home-grown sport that needs all the support it gets to get a professional standing. Kudos to him!
Arjun Kapoor: He came, he saw, he conquered, just like his mythological namesake. Arjun won acclaim and success with his very first film Ishaqzaade. Trade analyst Taran stated that Arjun has a 'I-don't-give-a-damn' kind of an approach in the movie. "He comes across as fiery and rustic and at the same time self-assured and assertive in this reckless and intrepid character," he added, which pretty much set the tone for Arjun's next outings. Aurangzeb had him playing a double role, and he scored on both counts. His third outing, Gunday in which he reprised his goon act with Ranveer Singh and Priyanka Chopra was a smash success and with 2 States, Arjun has entered the enviable Rs 100-crore club. He is currently gearing up for a quirky comedy Finding Fanny Fernandes opposite none other than the reigning actress Deepika Padukone. He is also filming for Tevar, remake of a South movie co-starring Sonakshi Sinha. A guy, who weighed 140 kilos five years ago, sports a sculpted six-pack-ab today and has the girls going crazy. His transformation aided by his mentor Salman Khan is as inspiring as his journey in tinsel town!
Rani Mukerji: It was an eventful year for Rani. Not only did she become Mrs Chopra, she is also returning to the big screen with an action-packed film Mardani. She will be playing a cop for the first time in the film that is said to be raw and gritty. The poster with her in a belligerent pose says it all. On the personal front, the doe-eyed beauty finally tied the knot with long-time beau Aditya Chopra in a dream wedding at Italy. With a producer husband and the reputed YRF banner behind her, it won't be long before the talented actress turns director. Already there are talks of her becoming the creative director of YRF! Way to go Rani.
Irrfan Khan: This award-winning actor has the distinction of being sought-after not only by the Bolly directors, but also Hollywood filmmakers. In February this year, he was cast as the antagonist in the upcoming film Jurassic World. He has also been a part of The Amazing Spider-Man as Dr Rajit Ratha. His much-acclaimed Lunchbox had several people rooting for it as the ideal film to represent India at the Oscars. However, another film was chosen and this led to an uproar from Bolly fraternity. Nevertheless, Irrfan's performance, which was critiqued as pitch perfect, won him the Best Actor award at the Asian Film Awards. The talented actor will now be seen in an unusual pairing opposite Deepika Padukone in Piku and is also doing a film with Tigmanshu Dhulia whose Paan Singh Tomar had won him the National Award.
Riteish Deshmukh: Best known for his comedies like Dhamaal, Masti, Grand Masti etc, Riteish chose a different route when it came to his production ventures. His first film Balak Palak on sex education, in Marathi won a lot of acclaim and Riteish is set to produce it in Hindi too. His next production Yellow dealing with the story of a girl suffering from Down's Syndrome has been hailed as a heartwarming, sensitive film about a mother-daughter relationship. This year will also see Riteish playing a baddie for the first time in Ek Villain and also making his acting debut in a Marathi film Lai Bhaari. His Humshakals that sees him in a triple role doing what he is best at, making people laugh is on its way to becoming a blockbuster!