M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar: He was one of the first big stars of Tamil cinema. Although Bhagavathar never really reached the status of superstar like MGR, he was immensely popular and one of the first tamil actors whose films were box office hits. One of the first actors to have worked with American filmmakers, Bhagavathar film Chintamani was one the first smash hits of Tamil cinema and ran in a theatres for an year.
Rajesh Khanna:He taught the country the term %u2018superstar%u2019. Till then, actors had strong fan following but the hysteria that Khanna brought was unmatched. The shy boy won a talent hunt contest and landed his first role in a feature film in %u2018Aakhri Khat%u2019 in 1966 but within a year Khanna%u2019s popularity started spreading far and wide. So much so, that the ending of Nasir Hussain%u2019s %u2018Baharon Ke Sapne%u2019 had to be changed from a sad one to a happier one following national uproar. His popularity reached delirious in a short span-stories of how his car was covered with lipstick marks, his name was chanted by women on the road while his car passed by are part of film folklore now. And Kaka, as he was popularly known as, still remains the only actor to have back to back fifteen consecutive solo superhits, during the years 1969 to 1972., a feat which is yet to be broken by any actor.
Krishnan nair aka Jayan was multi faceted. A former naval officer, he was one of the few actors who performed his own stunts and became a cultural icon of Malayalam cinema. Acclaimed as the first action star of Malayalam cinema, Jayan can be credit for bringing hard core masala action films to mainstream. He began his career with small roles but his anti hero avatar 'Sharapancharam' catapulted him to super stardom.
Shivaji Ganeshan: Popularly known the Marlon Brando of Indian cinema, Ganeshan was known as a method actor. With a strong background in theatre, Ganeshan proved his versatility time and again in films like Thiruvilayadal, Navarathiri, Karnan and Thillana Mohanambal. Ganeshan had an unique quality of striking a balance between commercial and art house cinema which perhaps made him legend in Indian cinema. His style, his roles, his approach to acting is emulated till date and that, perhaps, makes him one of the biggest stars of cinema.
NT Rama Rao: One of the biggest stars of Telugu film industry, NTR started his film career with a small role in Mana Desam in 1949. But his major breakthrough came in a film called Paathala Bhairavi in 1951, where he played of a prince. The film not only gave him commercial success and made him a star but also paved way for several other similar roles where he played the prince saving the damsel in distress. Spanning a career over 44 years, the man also dabbled in scriptwriting and film direction. Cashing on his superstar status, NTR entered politics and gained support from his fans when his party (Telugu Desam Party) won the state election and he became the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh.
Dr Rajkumar: The biggest star of Kannada film industry, Dr Rajkumar could be credited for putting the Kannada film industry on the national map. The man's aura was unmatched and when he passed away, the entire city of Bangalore mourned.
MG Ramachandran: Films and film actors are taken very seriously down south. Actors are treated differently, given god like status. Generally starring in romance or action films, MGR got his big breakthrough in the 1947 film 'Manthiri Kumari', but 'Malaikallan' in 1957 was the film that catapulted him to superstardom. MGR had been politically active since the early years of his acting career. While he continued to make films and act in them, his involvement in building Tamil Nadu%u2019s new political system was also quite prominent. Perhaps, his superstar persona helped him gain support when he broke away from DMk and formed his own party AIADMK in the 1972. The only actor to have received the Bharat Ratna (posthumously), he is still considered an icon in Tamil Nadu.
Uttam Kumar: Bengal cinema's 'Mahanayak' Uttam Kumar is still referred as the biggest star of Bengal. The actor's illustrious career spanned over four decades and was the face of popular cinema.
Apart from Dr Rajkumar, Dr Vishnuvardhan is considered as the other pillar of Kannada cinema. The actor who made his debut in Girish Karnad's film 'Vamshavruksha' in 1972. The critically acclaimed film not only won an National Award but also paved way for more roles for the actor. His role in 'Naagarahaavu' made him an overnight star.
The beautiful Suchitra Sen was one of the first actresses on celluloid who began their acting career after the marriage. After making her debut in 'Shesh Kothaay' in 1952, Sen went on to do some memorable films-mostly in Bangla and some in Hindi, and is considered as the most charismatic actresses of all time. She retired from the screen in 1978 after a career of over 25 years to a life of quiet seclusion and ever since then has avoided the public gaze.
Madhubala: Madhubala The beautiful, ethereal Madhubala was one of the biggest actresses of her times. Although she had a dream run at the Box Office, the actress kept her personal life closely guarded. While most liked to bask in their new found fame, the actress chose to only live a private life. And that, perhaps, added to her charisma. An early death of the actress left the hearts of several fans yearning for more.
J Jayalalitha: Yes, much before she became the Chief Minsiter of Tamil Nadu and a important face of political system in the country, J Jayalalitha actually enjoyed immense popularity in films. With a child like innocent face, Jayalalitha made her debut as a leading lady at a young age in Kannada film Chinnada Gombe . The actress acted with almost all leading actors of her time and eventually became a political protégé of MGR and took over his dynasty after his death and is considered one of the most influential women of Indian political system.
Sridevi is considered as the first female superstar of Bollywood. She began her career at an young age and after a successful stint in south cinema, shifted to Bollywood to do some memorable films like 'Chandni', 'Himmatwala', 'Chalbaaz' to name a few. The actress took a break from films after marriage and motherhood but when she came back after 15 long years in 'English Vinglish', her fans welcomed her with equal warmth and fervor.
The unknown Bhojpuri film industry got a new lease of life when TV and film actor Ravi Kishan started starring in Bhojpuri films. All of a sudden the entire nation's focus shifted to an industry which, even though an old one, was sidelined. The actor can be credited for reviving the Bhojpuri industry which is now a flourishing industry.
Even though films came in the early part of 1900, the mass hysteria that accompanies films in present times came much later. The Indian society in the pre independence era was also a conservative one, where film viewing was restricted to a certain section of the society- mostly the elite and films was yet to spread far and wide. The emergence of larger than life stars slowly started emerging post-independence. The advent of media also helped in making the actors more accessible to the audience. Tabloid, gossip columns, and major influence of the west helped in making stars larger than life, close to demigods in a country which was made the world of cinema its escape from the daily routine.
With Gregory Peck type of looks, Dev Anand seemed too westernized for the films that were being made in the 1950s. Many even shunned him as someone who just looked good but couldn%u2019t act. While initially he did play soft romantic roles, he then shifted to films which spoke about social issues. The craze for his typical swagger, his style, his body language caught on soon and was aped by the youth. The charming smile and the thoughtful eyes poured deep into the hearts of millions of fans and ladies swooned all over him. The man went on to make some memorable films, some of which became cult classics, launched several new faces in the film industry and lived life in his own unique way and refused to get old.