Born on January 1, 1978, Vidya Balan first made her way to our TV screens with the hit show, Hum Paanch that had her play the studious girl, Radhika, among four other sisters who were an absolute laugh riot. Thereafter, began her tryst with Bollywood and to say that her trajectory since then has been nothing short of exceptional wouldn’t be entirely wrong. She has carved a niche for herself and has it in her to shoulder an entire film all by herself. Whether it’s the character of a middle class woman who is ready to take on the world with a ‘can do’ spirit, a vindictive wife who will leave no stone unturned to avenge her husband’s death or an actress who ruled the industry with her eroticism, Balan has seeped into the skin of each of these characters. Through her myriad roles, she has changed the way women in the Indian film industry choose their on screen characters. The lady has never dithered away from doing something she has never tried before and has, in the process, even admitted to her flaws and embraced them, winning all our hearts. As she turns a year older today, we take a glance through 5 of her best roles till date that prove why she is one of the best actresses in Bollywood today.

# Parineeta

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Parineeta was Balan’s entry ticket to Bollywood. As Lolita, the actress impressed the audiences and critics alike and many found it difficult to believe that it was her debut film.  She let her talent speak for itself and within no time people started considering her as one of the leading actresses in Bollywood.

# Kahaani

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Kahaani was perhaps Vidya’s finest works till date. This gripping thriller based on the life of a woman who concocts an entire story to avenge the death of her husband not only left us at the edge of our seats but also left us in awe of the actress who once again proved that she can singlehandedly carry a film on her shoulders. Balan’s impeccable performance and Shujoy Ghosh’s engaging narrative made us watch the film over and over again.

# The Dirty Picture

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This was, by far, Balan’s boldest role ever and also the turning point in her career. In the film, the actress played the role of Silk Smitha, a major sex symbol and one of the most sought-after erotic actresses in the 1980s. She shut up everyone who thought she didn’t have a figure to make it big in the film industry, with this role and film. She left everyone, who thought she wouldn’t be able to do justice to this role, stunned with her performance. She also bagged the National Award for this film.

# Paa

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In Paa, Vidya Balan essayed the role of a mother and that too of a child suffering from progeria, played by none other than Amitabh Bachchan. It must have certainly not been an easy decision of taking up a role like this so early on in her career, but Balan did so with absolutely no inhibitions. The role was as challenging for her, as it was for Amitabh Bachchan, but she pulled it off really well, leaving everyone in awe of her in the end.

# Tumhari Sulu

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This year, Balan tasted success with her film, Tumhari Sulu, which had her play a housewife by the day and an RJ by the night. The film is a slice of life entertainer that has the actress playing a middle class woman, who has been an under achiever all her life, but has never let it define her due to her “Can do” attitude. Her ability to find joy in the smallest of things as well as her optimism and zest for life are what makes Tumhari Sulu an enjoyable watch. Balan has once again outshone her contemporaries with such an endearing and simple. And she has once again proved, that no matter what role is given to her, “Vidya Kar Sakti Hai.”