Rani Mukherji as Badki
Badki is a fun-loving and happy-go-lucky girl, drunk on the masti of Banaras, but with eyes as crystal clear and innocent as the waters of the sacred Ganga. Her life is full of laughter and the love of her family. When problems crop up, she takes them in her stride, not letting them tarnish her smile. So when the family falls upon bad days, and her studies are stopped, she just girds her loins and helps her mother to keep things going. Protective to a fault, she shields her younger sister Chutki from the problems dogging the family. She is deeply hurt though, when her father keeps wishing she was born a son. Even when the going gets tougher, and she finds herself battling the hard and ruthless city of Mumbai, she does not buckle under, but faces it all with exemplary courage. And she does not hesitate in paying the highest price to support her family.
Konkona Sen Sharma as Chutki
Chutki is a spunky spirited and crazy young girl, with eyes that sparkle with mischief. Playing pranks on her hapless victims, teasing her sister Badki, and harassing her parents are her favourite pastimes, but she also loves her family with a fierce passion. Innocent and protected from the harsh circumstances of her family by Badki and their mother, she revels in their love. Gifted with a sharp and intelligent mind, she is unaware of the sacrifices Badki is making to keep her education going. When she moves to the big city, she finds a wide open sky to open her wings and soar. She excels at work, and actually finds a man who loves her with all her madness and eccentricities.
Jaya Bachchan as Sabitri
Sabitri is the backbone and anchor of the Sahay family. She bears the brunt of every crisis the family encounters. She is dismayed as she sees her husband turn bitter with his failures and turn away from the family. She works hard, making both ends meet, protecting her daughters, facing up to menacing relatives. But her husband's illness is the last straw that breaks her spirit. Alone, bewildered, she leans hard on Badki, her only solace. In her crisis, she does not realize when Badki has reached her own breaking point. And she is the only one who bears the burden of the terrible knowledge of Badki's enormous sacrifices. Sabitri tries hard to ferret out a future for her family from the hard unyielding circumstances of her life.
Anupam Kher as Shivshankar Sahay
Shivshankar Sahay is a retired professor of Economics who has turned bitter and pessimistic after his pension was unfairly suspended by the college. Instead of fighting against the resulting poverty, he has accepted defeat, and hopes that the numerous lottery tickets he buys will land him a fortune that will bring back the glorious days of the past. He vents his frustration on his family, and particularly his elder daughter Badki, as he believes that things would have been different had she been born a son. He strongly opposes Badki's departure for the big city, predicting that she will fail to achieve anything. All this comes back to him when he discovers the enormity of the struggle and sacrifice that Badki had to go through.
Kunal Kapoor as Vivaan
Vivaan is a living embodiment of Indian youth today. Irreverent, iconoclastic, totally laidback, yet very good at what he does. He is rude, messy, and unfazed about his lack of manners. Full of wit and humor, he loves a laugh, wherever and by whichever means he can get it. Typical of the urban youth, he does not have a clue as to how the rest of India lives. So when Chutki joins his advertising agency, he dismisses her as a small town girl. But Chutki's spunk, spirit, and insights blow him away. She matches him barb for barb, retort for retort and he finds that he is head over heels in love. Vivaan and Chutki's chemistry is so potent; they set off sparks when they are in the same room. For her, he is willing to go to the end of the world, or on his knees.
Abhishek Bachchan as Rohan