Bollywood is replete with women of substance – whether they might be doing the right films or not, they have definitely made their place in B-Town, whether it is with their entrepreneurship, or their controversy quotient. This International Women’s Day, March 8, 2011, takes a bow to these femme fatales.

Mallika Sherawat
From the dusty streets of Haryana to the slick boulevards of Hollywood, Los Angeles, Mallika Sherawat has come a long way. She made her mark with her ‘hot’ act in Murder, opposite Emraan Hasmhi, quickly making a name for herself in the nook and crannies of India. With a past that was, for long, muddled in controversy and intrigue, Mallika soon gave it all up and moved from strength to strength (or some may say controversy to controversy) doing films that required her to shed more clothes and do little more. Interestingly, Mallika silenced her critics with good performances in Pyaar Ke Side Effects and Ugly Aur Pagli, where fans got a glimpse of her funny side. She also wowed us with her sexy dance moves in the Maiyya maiyya song in Mani Ratnam’s Guru. In the recent years, however, she has appeared in extremely forgettable films like The Myth (a small role opposite Jackie Chan) and Hisss (where she plays a nagin!) But Mallika makes it to this list because of her sheer grit (she has been camping in Los Angeles for at least a year now) and her easy love for the social media (just check out her Twitter page).

Preity Zinta
For an army kid who stumbled into movies, Preity Zinta has had a chequered career so far. While she delivered many good performances and even hits, the younger heroines who entered Bollywood at the turn of the new millennium overtook Preity. Be that as it may, this actress has always stood her own, be it while defending her Indian Premier League team, Kings XI Punjab, or gracefully handling her break-up with her former beau, industrialist Ness Wadia. The dimpled actress has not been seen in a leading role for quite some time, but is a regular on the Bollywood A-list. She is also one of the few conscientious actors around. Remember when Preity, against all the odds, stood in the witness box in the Bharat Shah case?

Shilpa Shetty
From a patchy film career to being a big star in Britain, courtesy her histrionics in the television reality show, Big Brother, Shilpa found her niche in television when she had stopped doing films. Since that turnaround, everything about her life has been flashy: be it her IPL team Rajasthan Royals, he marriage to Raj Kundra, her swank Mumbai club or the Derby races she frequents. She even hosted, successfully, the Indian edition of Big Brother, Bigg Boss. She is the jet setter that every beauty queen dreams of becoming. That’s Shilpa Shetty for you.

Sushmita Sen
Single mom, entrepreneur, connoisseur of beauty, a fine actress, an extremely competent women – all these adjectives do Sushmita Sen a disservice. As it happens, there is much more to this lady than meets the eye. Take, for instance, her frank attitude towards the many relationships she has had. Or her love for motherhood. No wonder this single mom has adopted not one, but two girls. Some might think that Sushmita, of whom we get to see little and little as the seasons change, is just another Bollywood actress who will fade away. That, only time will tell.

Dia Mirza
She still looks like sweet sixteen. And brings a smile to your face with her chirpy voice and easy-going demeanour. That any of her recent films haven’t done magic at the box-office is just a coincidence. Dia Mirza happens to be one of the most spiritual actresses in the industry today. Having lost her father at a young age, this woman made it to Bollywood on her own strength, much like the rest of our list here. She is also one who knows and treasures friends and relationships in the industry: be it Arshad Warsi or Zayed Khan. She has now also turned producer in collaboration with the latter. Only if we could see much more of her on-screen.

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