First awardees Nargis
Cash award 50,000 INR (US$790)
|Category Indian Cinema|
First awarded 1967
Total awarded 52
|Description Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role|
Medal Rajat Kamal (Silver Lotus)
Awarded by Directorate of Film Festivals
People also search for National Film Award for Best Actor
The National Film Award for Best Actress (officially known as the Rajat Kamal Award for the Best Actress) is an honour presented annually at the National Film Awards of India since 1968 to an actress for the best performance in a leading role within the Indian film industry. The National Film Awards were called the "State Awards for Films" when established in 1954. The State Awards instituted the "Best Actress" category in 1968 as the "Urvashi Award for the Best Actress"; in 1975, the "Urvashi Award" was renamed as the "Rajat Kamal Award for the Best Actress". Throughout the years, accounting for ties and repeat winners, the Government of India has presented a total of 52 Best Actress awards to 41 different actresses.
Until 1974, winners of the National Film Award received a figurine and certificate; since 1975, they have been awarded with a "Rajat Kamal" (silver lotus), certificate and a cash prize that amounted to ₹50,000 (US$740) in 2012. Although the Indian film industry produces films in more than 20 languages and dialects, the actresses whose performances have won awards have worked in ten major languages: Assamese, Bengali, English, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu.
The first recipient was Nargis Dutt from Bollywood, who was honoured at the 15th National Film Award (1968) for her performance in Raat Aur Din. The actress who won the most number of Rajat Kamal awards is Shabana Azmi with five wins, followed by Sharada with three. As of 2016, five actresses—Smita Patil, Archana, Shobana, Tabu, and Kangana Ranaut—have won the award two times. Sharada, Archana and Shobana are the only three actresses to get the award for performing in two different languages. Sharada was bestowed with the awards for her performances in two Malayalam films: Thulabharam and Swayamvaram in 1970 and 1973 respectively, and in 1979 for the Telugu film Nimajjanam. Archana was first honoured in 1988 for the Tamil film Veedu and was awarded for the second time in 1989 for the Telugu film Daasi. Shobana received her first award for the Malayalam film Manichitrathazhu in 1994, and her second for the English film Mitr, My Friend in 2002. As of 2016, the late Monisha Unni remains the youngest recipient of the honour; she was awarded for the Malayalam film Nakhakshathangal in 1987 when she was 16. Indrani Haldar and Rituparna Sengupta are the only two actresses to be honoured for the same film.
The most recent recipient is Kangana Ranaut, who was honoured at the 63rd National Film Awards ceremony for her performance in the 2015 Hindi film Tanu Weds Manu Returns.