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Bollywood's best actresses. Ever.

"A-ha!"

1. Madhuri Dixit

India's sweetheart.

Madhuri Dixit is the actress, an all-time chimera of the quintessential Bollywood heroine. From danseuse to dunce, from dreamy to droll, from Dayavan to dhak-dhak -- not just did she excel, but armed with that mega smile, she ruled over the nation with absolute power.

Miss Dixit really broke onto the scene with 1988's Tezaab, the film establishing a few simple truths -- India had flipped for the Ding-dong-ding dance, Madhuri looked good with Anil Kapoor, and the lady sure could act. Then came a spate of films cashing in on that formula: hit musicians creating songs the Kathak dancer would give her own twist to, the everpresent Anil Kapoor and a meaty part for Madhuri. And while this string ran with great glee, soon it was apparent that the only key ingredient in the mix was Dixit herself.

Like Julia Roberts, Madhuri's box office appeal is universally contagious. Bollywood's highest paid actress, she was the first to charge prices equivalent, and even eclipsing, the top heroes; it is currently rumoured that fees for her comeback feature are astronomical. Either way, it's a terrific investment. Madhuri's films have enjoyed enormous appeal, even without mainline heroes, with audiences readily queuing up to see just the superstar on screen.

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Madhuri braved possibly the worst fashion fiascos through her career and yet emerged on top -- a staggering achievement considering those 80s polka-dotted frocks. She's turned barefoot artists into filmmakers, young Khans into romantic heroes, wasted scripts into eminently watchable films, cornball farce into classic comedy, melodrama into mellow.

Heck, she even made marriage seem fun.

Photo: RAVEENDRAN/AFP/Getty Images

Don't Miss: Images: The many moods of Madhuri Dixit

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