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Bollywood churns out the highest number of movies every year – much more than Hollywood. Though Bollywood is definitely the top draw, many leading ladies have had a tough time finding fame in the Hindi film industry. Thus some of the top Bollywood actresses we know today first made their mark down south. The South Indian film industry brought them name and fame, which they later used as tickets to enter Bollywood without having to struggle their way up. While some of the actresses in this list made their debut in the South Indian industry, others did roles to build a stronger profile.

1. Yami Gautam

Yami Gautam is one of the prettiest girls in Bollywood. She has risen to fame with her successful commercials and movies in Bollywood.

Yami Gautam
Yami Gautam/Instagram

Yami did a lot of movies in the South Indian film industry, such as Hero which is a Malayalam movie, opposite Prithviraj.

Yami Gautam in Yuddham
Mango Music /YouTube

2. Shilpa Shetty

Shilpa did a lot of roles in Bollywood movies in the 90s and noughties. She entered Bollywood at a very young age but this Karnataka-born superstar also did impressive roles in Telugu, Tamil and Kannada movies.

Shilpa Shetty
Shilpa Shetty Kundra/Instagram

She made her Telugu film debut with 1996’s Sahasa Veerudu Sagara Kanya opposite superstar Venkatesh.

shilpa shetty in Sahasa Veerudu Sagara Kanya
Mango Music /YouTube

3. Kriti Sanon

Kriti Sanon is a newbie in Bollywood. Her first movie was Heropanti in which she starred alongside Tiger Shroff as the lead actress, but she has also made her way from the South Indian industry.

Kriti Sanon in saree

She starred in Nenokkadine which is a Telugu movie and is currently working on her second Telugu film.

kriti sanon in Nenokkadine
Bhavani Movies /YouTube

4. Priyanka Chopra

Priyanka Chopra, who rules both Hollywood and Bollywood with her impeccable acting skills, was once part of the South Indian movies.

Priyanka Chopra Black dress
Priyanka Chopra/Instagram

She did Tamil movie Thamizhan in 2002. Moreover, she also made a singing debut in Telugu in the same movie.

priyanka chopra in thamizhan
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5. Sushmita Sen

Really popular for her mind-blowing acting skills and her dance in the song Prem Rog from Maine Pyaar Kyon Kiya?, the former Miss Universe acted in a lot of South Indian movies including Ratchagan which is 1997 Telugu movie.

Sushmita Sen
Sushmita Sen/Instagram

Sen also made a special appearance in the Tamil movie Mudhalvan.

sushmita sen in Ratchagan

6. Hansika Motwani

Hansika Motwani has a reputation for doing child role in Hindi movies and television shows, but she began her adult acting career in South Indian film industry.

Hansika Motwani in saree

She is currently a superstar in Telugu movies and has has a series of blockbusters under her belt including DesamuduruKantriMaska, etc.

hansika motwani in Desamuduru

7. Kangana Ranaut

Kangana Ranaut is the Queen of Bollywood. Her performance, outspoken attitude, natural beauty and selection of roles have turned Kangana into the most powerful actress in the Hindi film industry as of now.


But we cannot forget the fact that she tried her chance in South Indian cinema as well and made a mark there. Her notable movies include Dhaam Dhoom, which is a Tamil movie, and Ek Niranjan, which is a Telugu movie.

kangana ranaut in Ek Niranjan

8. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

She was born in Mangalore, Karnataka, and is an ethnic speaker of the Tulu language. The former Miss Universe has a commanding presence in Bollywood for her beauty, which has endeared her to Hollywood as well.

Aishwarya Rai Red Dress

Like others in this list, Aishwarya, too, worked in some South Indian movies. Some of her notable movies include her debut film, Mani Ratnam’s Tamil masterpiece, Iruvar and other Tamil films such as Jeans and Kandukondain Kandukondain, which was released in 2000. She returned to Tamil cinema with Mani Ratnam’s Ravanan in 2010.

aishwarya rai in Iruvar

9. Preity Zinta

She is known for her cute smile and bubbly roles in Bollywood movies such as Chori Chori Chupke Chupke and Kal Ho Na Ho.

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But not a lot of people remember that she has also acted in some South Indian movies. She acted in Premante Idera alongside Venkatesh and Kumarudu alongside Mahesh Babu.

preity zinta Premante Idera
Shalimar Film Express/YouTube

10. Deepika Padukone

Deepika was born in Copenhagen but raised in Bangalore.

Deepika Padukone Black dress
Deepika Padukone/Instagram

A Kannada by ethnicity, Padukone made her film debut in the 2006 Kannada film Aishwarya. Her next movie was Om Shanti Om and since then she has not done a single South Indian movie.

deepika padukone in kannada Aishwarya

11. Katrina Kaif

Katrina has a British accent because she was raised in England.

Katrina Kaif Lehanga
Katrina Kaif/Instagram

She faced issues initially with the language, but her acting skills were taken note of when she came to the scene in the South Indian movies such as Malliswari in which she performed the role of a royal princess opposite Venkatesh. The audience received Katrina very well.


12. Vidya Balan

Vidya Balan is Tamilian-Malayali.

Vidya Balan in Saree
Vidya Balan/Instagram

Naturally, has given some really good performances in South Indian movies, such as Urumi, which is a Malayalam movie.

vidya balan in Urumi

13. Sonakshi Sinha

Daughter of Shatrughan Sinha, who was a great actor of his time and is currently a politician, Sonakshi got an easy entry in Bollywood but she had to prove her acting skills to stay afloat.

Sonakshi Sinha
Sonakshi Sinha/Instagram

Besides Hindi films, she starred opposite superstar Rajnikant in Tamil film Lingaa. Her acting in that film earned her a lot of fame.

sonakshi sinha in Lingaa
Eros Now /YouTube

14. Bipasha Basu

Bipasha has also done some really good movies in Bollywood but she has an equally good reputation in the South Indian cinema as well.

Bipasha Basu in saree
Bipasha Basu/Instagram

She has acted in the Telugu movie Takkari Donga and Tamil movie Sachin.

bipasha basu in Takkari Donga

15. Juhi Chawla

This Punjabi actress was the female superstar of Hindi cinema in the 90s. She made her name Bollywood but also acted in South Indian movies which earned her even wider fame.

Juhi Chawla
Juhi Chawla/Instagram

She has acted in Kannada, Tamil and Telugu movies such as Premaloka and Paruva Ragam both of which were by director Ravichandran.

juhi chawla in Paruva Ragam
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