Thursday, September 27, 2012

Katrina, Kareena, Priyanka: Who is the most popular heroine in Bollywood?

The stakes to be the #1 actress  in Bollywood are high. Gone are the days when we had heroines reign for years at end. These days the #1 spot hovers over shifting sands. But the anointing of the Queen is always a coveted event. (Recently, badly let down by Madhur Bhandarkar's jumbled mess Heroine, Kareena missed the coronation narrowly.)

There was once a time when Karishma Kapoor was #1 (shudder!) Aishwarya held on to that spot for a long time. Kareena made a claim. Katrina came out of nowhere and piled on the hits. Priyanka Chopra is sitting on three blockbusters in a row. So who is the #1 heroine in Bollywood?

What constitutes being #1? Traditionally, and reasonably so, being #1 has been associated with being in demand. Which translates to high salaries. The actress commanding the most (salaries, entourage, chamchaagiri) is usually #1. In today's multi-media world, #1 can mean more than just that. You see, heroines don't just do movies anymore. They dance on stage, do commercials, host shows on TV and in some cases, sing songs. All of these are a barometer of demand and hence fame and money - just like how many magazine covers is that actress doing or how many texts she gets when her films open, especially the really bad ones.

There's really no good way to track all that. But there might be a way that comes close. Google just blended their trends and analysis engine into one fine application. I decided to use it to track web searches for actresses and see who commanded the most interest on the web. This might be a bit disconnected from the real world, probably because you can't use this method to figure out which heroine is most plastered inside autorickshas - a time tested barometer of popularity. But hey, let me know if you have something better.

So what is Google telling me? The most sought after heroine on the web has been Katrina Kaif - since about 2010. After a string of hits with Akshay Kumar, Katrina decided to diversify - she actually started acting with other leads! She cranked out two hits - New York (with John Abraham) and Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani (with Ranbir). For good measure she also had another success with her favorite Akshay - De Dana Dan. By then, she was also firmly and publicly ensconced as Salman Khan's girl. Interest in Katrina peaked. She's stayed at the top of the web searches ever since.

Recently thought, Kareena has seen a surge in her web popularity that has brought her into Katrina's zone. Kareena's been a resplendent star - delivering solid hits and establishing some ability to open a movie. But her most recent surge has a lot to do with swirling rumors of her marriage to Saif. A lot of people are curious to find out if that October date is real! Will Kareena stay at this level of web popularity? Ironically if she gets married she will, but right after that, most likely not. Because we all know what happens to Bollywood heroines once they get officially hitched.

And speaking of hitched: before Aishwarya was overtaken by Katrina, she commanded curiosity for her work and later for her marriage to Abhishek, which I'm broke millions of hearts. Recently she regained some of her Google juice when she had a baby girl, and still later another huge spike in popularity (no one spikes quite like Aish) when everyone was dying to know just exactly how much weight she had put on. (A lot of those righteous people who said her weight didn't matter were looking for information on exactly that!)

These three are Bollywood's Holy Triumvirate. But there are some strong challengers. With Don 2, Agneepath and Barfi!, Priyanka has now delivered three back to back blockbusters (more or less movies that cross Rs 100 crores in collections.) This puts her in Katrina territory. She recently garnered some priceless international exposure with her song In My City, which had her shimmying on bazillions of TV sets on NFL opening night.

Did all of that help? You can see a spike in Priyanka's web popularity. To be fair, Priyanka does have a well established web presence - a site, Facebook and Twitter. So her fans know where to go and probably don't key in as many searches.

And finally you have Deepika. For every hit she delivers (Love Aaj Kal, Housefull, Cocktail), there are numerous flops that follow (Dum Maro DumKhele Hum Jee Jaan Se, Break Ke Baad, Aarakshan.) Yet she's popular: she's in ads, on magazine covers, she makes an awesome clotheshorse - but to be enduring you need hits. Lots of them. Often. Until Deepika can deliver, she won't be knocking on any doors on this list any time soon.


Kanan said...

Welcome back to the Drift, Aspi!!

I disagree about Deepika not being at the top. I am biased. :D

Also disagree about Aish being where google says she is. It's not her film popularity, more like personal life popularity.

How about a post on come-back-stars like Madhuri and Sridevi?

Anonymous said...

The top heroine is Katrina-there is no competition or two ways about it. Katrina is the only woman who will probably be able to carry a movie all alone-not Deepika and certainly not Priyanka. She should command a lot more money because they are attributing her popularity to her pairings but it has nothing to do with her male costars. She needs to up her price to double. You can bet if she was the actress in Heroine it would have been a super blockbuster. However sadly, she still cannot act. She is in need of acting lessons and once she does that, she'll really reach new heights.