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Bollywood's top tawaifs

October 30, 2006
Vyjanthimala and Madhuri Dixit as Chandramukhi in Devdas

Unlike the titular hero of Sarat Chandra Chatterjee's Devdas, Chandramukhi celebrates love in the face of heartbreak and unlikely reciprocation.

Because of her courtesan status, she is first a subject of Devdas' insulting indifference, which slowly improves to undeclared regard -- motivating her to change her socially unacceptable ways.

Both Vyjayanthimala (in Bimal Roy's brilliant 1955 adaptation) and Madhuri Dixit (in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's opulent 2002 interpretation) portrayed this larger-than-life quality of Chandramukhi's heart with charismatic zeal and sensational dancing.

Interestingly, both ladies won the Filmfare trophy in the Best Supporting Actress category. Even so, Vyjayanthimala refused to accept anything less than a Best Actress honour for her performance.

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