Actresses who portrayed nautch girls in Bollywood films

Vidya Balan will be seen reprising the role of a madam of a brothel in  Srijit Mukherji’s forthcoming movie Begum Jaan. This is one of the most talked about films of Vidya Balan. We take a look at actresses who played  prostitutes on screen.


Tabu (Chandni Bar): Tabu played Mumtaz Ali Ansari, a bar dancer in the critically-acclaimed film ‘Chandni Bar’. In the film, her character is forced into prostitution to bring up her family after her husband’s death. Tabu bagged that year’s National award in the best actress category that year.


Kareena Kapoor (Chameli / Talaash): Kareena Kapoor played a sex worker in ‘Chameli’  (2004) directed by Sudhir Mishra and Anant Balani.  Nine years later  Kareena Kapoor once again played the same in Reema Kagti’s Talaash opposite Aamir Khan.


Konkona Sen Sharma (Traffic Signal): Konkana Sen Sharma played the role of Noorie, a sex worker on the streets of Mumbai.


Sushmita Sen (Chingaari): Sushmita Sen for the first time played a hooker in Kalpana Lajmi’s ‘Chingaari’. She plays a young woman who enters the age-old business of prostitution in a small-town brothel where she brings up her daughter.


Rani Mukerji (Laaga Chunari Mein Daag / Saawariya/ Mangal Pandey): Rani Mukerji played the role of a sex worker  in a couple of movies. In Pradeep Sarkar’s flick, ‘Laaga Chunari Mein Daag’  Rani played a high profile escort  as Vibhavari Sahay  a small town girl who comes to Mumbai and turns to prostitution to help her family and sister’s education. In Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Saawariya’ Rani  had a special appearance as an escort. In Ketan Mehta’s  Mangal Pandey -The Rising she played a nautch girl who falls in love with  freedom fighter Mangal Pandey.


Neha Dhupia (Julie / De Dhana Dhan): Neha Dhupia’ Bollywood career began  with the character of Julie in Deepak Shivdasani’s Julie. Later she played a  high profile escort in Priyadarshan’s De Dhana Dan.


Kalki Koechlin (DevD):Kalki Koechlin played the character of a prostitute Chandramukhi in the modern version of Anurag Kashyaps’ Devdas titled Dev D.


Shruti Haasan (D Day): Shruti Haasan played Suraiya in Nikhil Advani’s action thriller  D-Day.  


Huma Qureshi (Badlapur): Huma Qureshi played Jhimli, the love interest of Nawazuddin Siddiqui  in Sriram Raghavan’s revenge drama in Badlapur.  

Waheeda Rehman (Pyaasa): Waheeda Rehman garnered  applause for playing a sex worker Gulabo in Guru Dutt’s  Pyaasa.

Sharmila Tagore ( Mausam): Sharmila Tagore’s roles in  Gulzar’s ‘Mausam’ is one of the best performances of the actress till date. She even won a National Award for the role. Sharmila Tagore played a double role of Mother and daughter in the film opposite Sanjeev Kumar.

Priya Rajvansh (Hanste Zakhm): Priya Rajvansh played the character of Chanda a prostitute who falls in love with the hero Navin Nischol. The film was later remade as ‘Mitti Aur Sona’ in 1989.

Zeenat Aman (Manoranjan): Zeena Aman played a high class call girl who falls in love with a havaldar played by Sanjeev Kumar who tries to reform her. It was actor Shammi Kapoor’s debut directorial venture  and was a remake of  the famous 1963 Hollywood musical hit  ‘Irma La Douce’.

Shabana Azmi (Mandi): Shabana Azmi played Rukmini Bai the madam of a brothel in Shyam Benegal’s 1984 film Mandi. It is considered one of Shabana’s terrific performances. The film was a satirical take on politics and prostitution and was based on classic Urdu short story Aanandi by writer Ghulam Abbas. Smita Patil played her daughter in the film.

Meenakshi Seshadari (Allahrakha): Meenakshi Seshadri played a sex worker in this Ketan Desai’s directorial debut Allahrakha. The film starred Jackie Shroff and Dimple in the lead and was a love triangle. It was Meenakshi Seshadri’s most memorable performances in her career.  However the film was not such a huge success at the box office.

Rekha (Aastha): Rekha portrayed the role of Mansi, a housewife who is married to Om Puri but finds it difficult to make both ends meet to keep her household running. She is forced into prostitution to fulfill the needs of her family in this film. The film is directed by Basu Bhattacharya.

Namrata Shirodkar (Vaastav):  Namrata Shirodkar played Sonia, a prostitute who falls in love with Raghunath, a gangster played by Sanjay Dutt. The crime drama was directed by Mahesh Manjrekar.

Manisha Koirala (Market): Manisha Koirala played a sex worker in a brothel at Hyderabad in Market a film directed by Jai Prakash.

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