Best South Indian Actresses of 2018

These women redefined themselves to make a mark on big screen

The year 2018 has been special in Kollywood as it saw several women-centric movies hit the screens. Women roles were redefined with more scripts written especially to show depth to its heroines and to please the ever-growing population of women in the audience.

Vidya Balan’s Tumhari Sulu remade in Tamil with Jyothika as Kaatrin Mozhi showed that pan India was ready to see and expect more of stronger women in its entertainment sector. Inhibitions were shed and stereotypes were eliminated with unconventional actresses taking over the screen such as the dusky Aishwarya Rajesh, girl-next-door Shalini Pandey, Simran paired with Rajinikanth in his upcoming and more.

While the reality of the industry and nationwide public needs more reforms and changes when it comes to its treatment of women, the year proved to be a good beginning for the treatment of its women on screen, to say the least. Here are some of the best women performers who created a space for themselves in 2018.

Keerthy Suresh

She threw the biggest surprise in 2018 with her outstanding performance in Nadigayar Thilagam (Mahanati in Telugu), a biopic of veteran actress Savithri. She literally lived the character and shed the image of a bubbly young heroine who romance heroes. Her acting prowess and her ability to deliver emotions were evident in Nadigayar Thilagam. Playing the titular role, she brought Savithri before the eyes of the audiences. She delivered what director Nag Ashwin wanted. Her on-screen presence meant a successful run for the movie in both Tamil and Telugu.
She was also part of Seema Raja, Saamy 2, Sandakozhi 2 and Sarkar this year. But it was Nadigayar Thilagam that brought her laurels.

Aishwarya Rajesh

It is rare to see an actress who picks and chooses her roles with caution. Aishwarya Rajesh is one among them. Noted for playing a mom to two boys in Kaaka Muttai, she has come up a long way doing different roles. 2018 saw her act in Mani Ratnam’s Chekka Chivantha Vaanam. Although her screen presence was limited, her role and her performance in it won her appreciations. She ended the year with a positive note with Kanaa. She played a rural girl who wants to achieve in cricket against all odds. Aishwarya had to learn to play cricket for her role in the movie and is said to have spent hours practicing. Her hard work shows on screen and critics have given thumbs up for her performance.


This actress who completed 16 years in Tamil cinema in 2018 has cemented her place as one of the most sought-after heroines thanks to 96. Her looks are still the same from the day she made her acting debut in Tamil cinema. Elegant and beautiful, Trisha has a huge fan-base. Her woman-centric movie Mohini was release at the beginning of this year. Though it did average business, her character(s) were praised. As Jaanu in 96, she won every heart. Her screen presence was divine throughout the movie and one scene where Jaanu finally sings Yamunai aatrile in Ramachandran’s house was the icing on the cake. This year Trisha made her debut in Malayalam films with Hey Jude, which won her rave reviews. She now awaits the release of Petta in which she shares the screen with Rajini for the first time.

Amala Paul

The Mynaa girl has had a fabulous year with a couple of good films this year. In Baskar Oru Rascal, she played Arvind Swami’s pair. Her restrained performance won her name and fame. However, it was Ratsasan, released towards the end of the year, saw Amala Paul reach the top. In the psycho crime thriller, she played Vishnu Vishal’s ladylove. She now awaits the release of her next Adho Andha Paravai Pola, which is centered around her.


Jyothika, who made a comeback in 2015 had three release this year. She started with Bala’s Naachiyaar in which she played a tough police officer. Her body language ruled the screen. Soon followed Mani Ratnam’s Chekka Chivatha Vaanam, where she was paired opposite Arvind Swami. She had to play subtle and the way she expressed emotions and delivered her dialogues were highlights of this movie. And towards the end of 2018 came Kaatrin Mozhi. She played a housewife who chases her dream to become a Radio Jockey. Directed by Radha Mohan, it yet again proved how Jyothika can deliver her acting talent.


The reigning queen of southern cinema, Nayanthara has scaled further heights in 2018. Remember she ended the year 2017 with a blockbuster Aramm. And what followed was a couple of hits in 2018 in the form of Imaikka Nodigal and Kolamaavu Kokila. If she was a police officer in Imaikka Nodigal, she played a timid drug peddler who wanted to save her mom in Kolamaavu Kokila. She was able to carry off both roles with ease. In 2019, she has a couple of women-centric movies on hand beside playing heroine to Ajith in Viswasam and a Telugu movie Sy Re Narasimha Reddy alongside Chiranjeevi.



Samantha turned out to be South Indian cinema’s most bankable actress this year. She broke the myth about married actresses and starred in 7 films out of which two were bilinguals. Starting with Rangasthalam, she went on to star in Mahanati (Nadigaiyar Thilagam), Irumbu Thirai, Seema Raja and the Tamil and Telugu films U-Turn. While Seema Raja was a huge let down, with her character being severely underwritten, she made amends with it through her performance in U-Turn, a female-led film. The coming year has bigger films and more hopes in store for her.

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