In an industry dominated by males, the role of heroines, pretty much throughout the country, has been mostly confined to 'dancing dolls'. The actresses can be classified into 3 categories: a) Those who do only meaty/decent roles; b) those who are just glamour dolls; and c) those who do both. In the first category, one can count on Revathy, Tabu, Jaya Bachhan, Shabana Azmi, Konkana, and Aishwarya Rai; the second category has most of the new and young actresses; the third category has artists like Simran, Jo, Sneha, Meera, Kajol, Rani, Preity, Sandhya, et al.
The main problem with actresses is that they have only a limited lifetime in the cine industry.. Unlike heroes who continue to sing duets even well into their 50's, the actresses have to make hay only until their youth lasts; seldom do the fans accept married and mothered actresses. (I sincerely hope Simran and Kajol would break that trend). Due to this, what happens invariably is that there is a seggregation of sorts, based on age and experience: usually, senior actresses tend to act in meaningful roles.
As the parallel cinema doesnt almost exist in both these cine worlds, one gets just a handful of good actresses to compete in this category. A cursory look at the recent National award winners tells us that Meera and Shobhana are the ones from Kollywood (though they won the award for Non-Tamil movies).. and Tabu, Konkana and Raveena won them in Bollywood. Not much to separate one from the other, here again.. So, the actresses on both sides are not only equally beautiful, but equally good in performance as well. Score remains tied at 1-1.