Mithun Chakraborty is perhaps those few actors who appeal the masses as well as classes with equal aplomb. A three time National Award winner, Mithun made his debut in the critically acclaimed art house cinema- 'Mrigaya' directed by Mrinal Sen. He soon captured the nation's attention as the a superb dancer in 'Disco Dancer'. He continues to juggle a very busy career between Hindi films and Bengali films.
One of the first playback singers who also was a leading hero, KL Sehgal was one of the most popular actors of his time. Still remembered for his role in Pramathesh Baruah's 'Devdas', Sehgal was also a successful theatre actor.
Prithviraj Kapoor was in fact a practicing lawyer but eventually became a successful actor of the pre-independence era. Kapoor featured in several films including the first talkie -Alam Ara and started the acclaimed Prithvi Theatre. His legacy continues as his descendants continue to be prominent faces of the Indian film industry.
In a male dominated industry, film heroes have played a important role in the society. They have been the voice of masses, have entertained and been followed blindly by innumerable fans. We look at the some of the actors who have redefined cinema-be it regional or Bollywood in their own unique style.
Ashok Kumar was one of the first romantic heroes of Indian cinema. Paired opposite Devika Rani, the actor made his debut in Himanshu Rai's 'Jeevan Naiya' in 1936. An accidental choice, acting became the Ashok Kumar's career for six long decades. In his illustrious career, Ashok Kumar played the hero, the antagonist, supporting character roles and even did his playback in his first few films.
The first feature film of India-'Raja Harishchandra' had actor DD Dabke playing the lead role. The actor later went on to do three other films, dabbled in cinematography and even remade 'Raja Harishchandra' in 1924.
One of the stalwarts of Indian cinema, Pramathesh Baruah was deeply influenced by European cinema and tried to infuse some the elements of into Indian cinema. He was also the first to adapt Sarat Chandra's 'Devdas' for the big screen-first in Bengali and then in Hindi. He acted, directed and wrote films in Bengali and Hindi.
Balraaj Sahni's sensitive portrayal of a poor farmer in 'Do Bigha Zameen' is still considered as path braking. His performance as the angst ridden but stoical Muslim man who refuses to go to Pakistan during partition in his last film 'Garam Hawa' has often been called his best performance by critics.
He had acting in his genes. Son of Prithviraj Kapoor, Raj Kapoor took to cinema the way fish takes to water. Talented actor and filmmaker, Kapoor's unique style- which was a tribute to Charlie Chaplin is aped till date. His initial films reflected the changing society of a newly independent India.
The flamboyant Dev Anand brought in a new wave of cinema. His films were light hearted- a stark contrast from the neo-politcal films his contemporary Raj Kapoor starred in. Anand's films were about love in the times of a orthodox society. Anand also starred in war films like 'Haqeeqat' thus making a mark for himself as an actor and not just a romantic hero. Along with filmmaker brother Chetan Anand, the actor started Navketan Films which made some memorable films in the 19050s-1970s.
Known for his method acting, Dilip Kumar along with Dev Anand and Raj Kapoor ruled the Hindi film industry in the 1950s.He earned the tagv of 'tragedy King' for the roles that he portrayed early in his career-that of a lovelorn young man. He went on star in some iconic films like 'Naya Daur', 'Aan', 'Mughal E Azam' and continued playing pivotal character roles till the late 1980s.
Talented, cynical, maverick- Guru Dutt's life could itself make for a super film. The filmmaker-actor can be credited for making and starring in cult classics like 'Pyaasa', Kagaz Ke Phool' and 'Sahib Biwi aur Ghulam'. He is most famous for making lyrical and artistic films within the context of popular Hindi cinema of the 1950s, and expanding its commercial conventions.
India got its first superstar in Rajesh Khanna. Considered as one of the greatest and most influential actors of all times, Khanna mainly starred in romance dramas. With millions of fans (especially women) Khanna catapulted to fame with the film 'Aradhana' and ruled the Box Office from more than a decade.
The rustic, son-of-soil Dharmendra may be best remembered for his action films, but the actor in fact showed versatility in films where he played supporting roles early in his career. A winner of talent hunt, Dharmendra in five decade long career has done varied kind of roles and continues to entertain.
His popularity, till date, remains unmatched. No other actor has been consistently admired the way Amitabh Bachchan is. He came at a time when the Indian society was going through a massive change and through his films, became the voice of the youth and earned the title 'Angry Young Man'. After a brief slump in the 1990s, Big B- as he is popularly known as came back in a bigger and better way and continues to be part of films.
Considered as one of stalwarts of 1980s new wave of cinema, Om Puri has been part of several critically acclaimed films. While his portrayal in films like 'City of Joy', 'Ardh Satya', 'Mirch Masala' are lauded till date, his roles in 'Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron', 'Chachi 420' are also appreciated.
Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri are considered the doyens of parallel cinema. With a solid background in theater, Naseeruddin Shah has delivered some extremely memorable performances over the years.
One of the biggest superstars of our times, Shah Rukh Khan remains the indisputable king of Bollywood- despite a few major Box Office debacles in the recent times. Known for his romantic hero image-SRK has also experimented with roles having negative shades early in his career in films like 'Darr', 'Anjaan' and some action films as well. But it is romance that he keeps coming back to time and again- a genre that he has mastered by now.
Salman Khan taught India the concept of 100 crore club. He was always a popular actor but in the last five years, Salman's films have made him an superstar who literally rules the Box Office.
The 'perfectionist' Aamir Khan may have began his career as a typical romantic hero, but over the years Aamir's films have become a though provoking, often sending strong messages to the society. He remains selective with his films, but whenever he comes with a film, he ensures his fans aren't disappointing.
MG Ramachandran got his big breakthrough in the 1947 film 'Manthiri Kumari', written by M. Karunanidhi. Soon he rose to superstardom in the 1954 blockbuster Malaikallan. He was awarded with the National Film Award for Best Actor for the film 'Rickshawkaran' in 1972.
The biggest star of Kannada film industry, Dr Rajkumar could be credited for putting the Kannada film industry on the national map. He bagan his career in 1954 and was awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke Award and the Padmabhushan by the Indian government.
Born on 1st October 1928, Shivaji Ganeshan is one of the most respectable artist of south indian cinema. Started his career in 1952 with a Tamil film Paraashakti, he has acted in over 300 films in various languages.
Superstar of Bengali cinema, Uttam Kumar had an illustrious career spanning over four decades. He was the face of popular cinema but also did some art house films in career and is till date considered the biggest star of Bengali cinema.
Soumitra Chatterjee was Satyajit Ray's favourite actor and the actor-director duo gave some memorable award winning films together.Recently awarded with a Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Soumitra continues to work in Bengali films.
Superstar Rajinikanth may have had a humble beginning, but the actor is now considered one of the biggest stars of the country. He is worshipped blindly and his films have made him larger than life. The second highest paid actor in Asia after Jackie Chan, Rajinikanth's films continue to rake in the moolah-time and again.
Maverick, talented, innovative- that's how one can describe Kamal Haasan. A gifted dancer, super actor, filmmaker, there is very little that Haasan perhaps can't do. His films always have a strong message-sometimes controversial and are a always discussed and debated. An entertainer to the core, Haasan is currently working on 'Vishwaroopam 2'.
Mohanlal began his career in 1978 with Malayalam film 'Thiranottam' but that film was never released. He has acted in over 300 films in various languages but in Malayalam film industry he is considered God. He has won several awards including four National Film awards, nine Kerala State Film awards, nine Filmfare South awards and more.
Biggest star of Telegu cinema, Chiranjeevi started his career playing the antagonist in few films and slowly started playing the lead. By the mid 1980s, Chiranjeevi was the undisputed king of Telugu cinema.
Along with Mohanlal, Mammootty sis considered the biggest star of Malayalam film industry. a three time National Award winner, the actor has acted in more than 300 films, mostly in Malayalam cinema.
Marathi cinema's popular face Ramesh Deo made his film debut in 1951 and has had a long career in Marathi and Hindi films. Deo, now 83, continues to make appearances in films even now.