Art & Entertainment

75 Actors Who Conquered Hearts Of The Millions Since 1947

On the 75th anniversary of Independence, Outlook selects 75 actors of Hindi cinema who made a mark with their talent, looks, style or simply, a smile on the screen


75 Actors Who Conquered Hearts Of The Millions Since 1947

Prithviraj Kapoor (1906–1972)

A thespian who was a big name in both theatre and cinema world in the pre-Independence era became immortal by playing Mughal emperor Akbar in K. Asif's Mughal-e-Azam.

Motilal (1910–1965)

He came to Mumbai in search of jobs and stayed there to redefine natural acting in a world obsessed with melodrama with films such as Anari, Devdas, Parakh, Paigham, Jagte Raho and Leader.

Balraj Sahni (1913–1973)

A natural actor, he joined the Hindi service of BBC London in 1939 and was also associated with Bharatiya Jana Natya Sangh (IPTA). Do Bigha Zamin. Kabuliwala, Waqt, Anuradha, Haqeeqat, Garm Hava bear ample testimony to his range and versatility.


Ashok Kumar (1911–2001)

Affectionately referred to as Dadamoni, he luckily got an opportunity to work with Devika Rani in Jeevan Naiya and did not look back. He went on to do classics such as Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, Mahal, Pakeezah, Chhoti Si Baat, Howrah Bridge, Kismat and Parineeta.


Dev Anand (1923–2011)

The 'Evergreen Actor' of Hindi cinema. His smile and style held generations in absolute thral. Guide saw him at his peak and proved to be the best film.

Raj Kumar (1926–1996)

In 1952, he debuted in Rangeeli but did not his due until Mother India. His fans thronged theatres for his power-packed dialogue delivery in films such as Paigam, Neelkamal, Humraj, Tiranga, Waqt, Dil Ek Mandir, Heer Ranjha, Kudrat and Saudagar.


Raj Kapoor (1924–1988)

'The Showman' of the industry. He would win over the audience by exuding simplicity and innocence on the screen. Shree 420, Jagte Raho, Awara, Anari, Mera Naam Joker and Teesri Kasam underscored his credentials the finest actor-director of his time.


Dilip Kumar (1922–2021)

Often referred to be 'the Father of Method Acting', he showed his versatility in all kinds of films such as Madhumati, Mughal-e-Azam, Naya Daur, Ram aur Shyam. Devdas earned him the moniker of 'Tragedy King'.

Manoj Kumar (1937)

Popularly known as Bharat Kumar, he carved a unique identity with patriotic films such as  Shaheed, Upkar, Purab Aur Paschim, Kranti, Roti Kapda Aur Makan, though he was equally good in family socials such as Himalaya Ki God Mein and Patthar Ke Sanam.


Amitabh Bachchan (1942)

Zanjeer, released after he gave 12 flops, earned him the 'Angry Young Man' image. He dethroned the reigning superstar Rajesh Khanna with superhits like Deewar, Sholay, Amar Akbar Anthony, Kaalia, Trishul, Shakti, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar and many more.

Rajendra Kumar (1929–1999)

Known as Jubilee Kumar for his string of hits, he gave fine performances in Sangam, Sooraj, Mere Mehboob and Dil Ek Mandir. Mother India proved to be an early milestone early in his career.

Shammi Kapoor (1931-2011)

His passion and electric energy were his hallmarks. Junglee, Kashmir ki kali, Dil Deke Dekho, Andaz and Tumsa Nahin Dekha made him a formidable star in the 1960s. It was he who started the trend of dancing stars in Hindi films.


Sunil Dutt (1929–2005)

His character of Birju in Mother India propelled him to fame. Sujata, Humraj, Mera Saaya, Padosan and established Sunil Dutt as a fine actor. He went on to become a Union Minister in the Manmohan Singh government.


Sanjeev Kumar (1938–1985)

Sanjeev Kumar’s depth in acting is to be seen to be believed. Aandhi, Mausam,  Koshish, Trishul, Khilona made him a household name but all his performances were overshadowed by his character of Thakur in Sholay.

Shashi Kapoor (1938–2017)

He started off as a child actor long before he impressed critics in Dharmaputra. He gave several superhits such as Sharmeelee, Deewar, Roti Kapda Aur Makaan, Chor Machaye Shor, Kabhi Kabhie, and Jab Jab Phool Khile. He teamed up with Bachchan during the multistarrer era. He also produced quality movies and made Prithvi Theatre a one-of-its-kind institution.


Farooq Sheikh (1948–2013)

Another natural actor known for Umrao Jaan, Katha, Bazaar, Chashme Baddoor, and Noori. His pairing with Deepti Naval was well-liked.

Shatrughan Sinha (1946)

He rose from a villain to a hero with movies like Dostana, Shaan, Naseeb, Kalicharan, Aa Gale Lag Ja, Kaala Patthar and Vishwanath. He is the first Indian actor to become the Cabinet minister at the Centre.

Jeetendra (1942)

He got the moniker of Jumping Jack because of his energetic dance moves. Farz, Mere Huzoor, Himmatwala, Tohfa and several other hits made him a blue-eyed boy of the filmmakers.

Amol Palekar (1944)

He had a natural flair for playing a ‘middle class hero’. He carved out such as identity with movies like Chhoti Si Baat, Chitchor, Golmaal, Baton Baat Mein and Naram Garam.



Rajesh Khanna (1942–2012)

The first superstar. He gave 15 superhit films in the early seventies. Aradhana, Amar Prem, Anand and Do Raaste happened when he was at the pinnacle of his career.

Vinod Khanna (1946–2017)

The audience loved him in both action and romantic films. His style of walking was so special that filmmakers used to specially create a scene to show him walking. Movies like Qurbani, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Mere Apne, Parvarish and Amar Akbar Anthony took him to great heights.

Dharmendra (1935)

The ‘He Man’ of Hindi cinema. He came to Mumbai after winning an acting contest. His career took off after Bandini. Films like Sholay, Chupke Chupke, Dharam Veer, Seeta Aur Geeta and  Satyakam made him the most loved actor in the country.


Feroz Khan (1939–2009)

Known as 'the Clintwood of the East', he is remembered as a style icon of Hindi cinema. His made his debut in Didi in 1959 but he graduated to making films like Apradh, Qurbani, Janbaaz, Yalgaar Dayavan and Dharmatma, which was the first Indian film to be shot in Afghanistan.

Sanjay Dutt (1959)

He took off with Rocky but found big-time success with Naam only. One of the rare heroes to be accepted as a villain, he delivered big hits like  Saajan, Vaastav, Khalnayak, Munnabhai MBBS, Lage Raho Munnabhai,  Agneepath and KGF 2. Ranbir Kapoor played him in his biopic, Sanju.


Amrish Puri (1932–2005)

Amrish Puri worked in more than 450 films and was one of the most successful villains of Hindi cinema. Inspired by his actor-brother Madan Puri, he came to Mumbai but was unsuccessful in the first attempt. He started doing plays in Prithvi Theatre until he got success. His portrayal of a comic villain Mogambo in Mr. India was outstanding.

Naseeruddin Shah (1950)

He made his acting debut with a play at St. Joseph's School, Nainital. He started his film career through art cinema but did a lot of commercial films later. He played the eponymous Mirza Ghalib in a TV serial made by Gulzar.


Rishi Kapoor (1952–2020)

He began as a child artist in Mera Naam Joker and won the National Award. Bobby followed and made him a heartthrob of the nation. He survived the era of action movies with Karz, Khel Khel Mein, Laila Majnu, Prem Rog, Damini and Chandni and did great work in his last few years.

Govinda (1963)

He teamed up with Kader Khan, and Shakti Kapoor in several superhit comedies in the nineties, including  Coolie No. 1, Hero No. 1, Raja Babu, Saajan Chale Sasural, Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, Dulhe Raja, Deewana Mastana and many more. He also dabbled in politics for a while but could not find his Midas touch on his return.


Anil Kapoor (1956)

He started working as a lead actor with Woh Saat Din. Mashaal and Janbaaz made a big difference to his career. Meri Jung, Mr. India, Tezaab, Karma and Parinda were his successful films. He is still going strong.

Saeed Jaffrey (1929–2015)

Saeed Jaffrey, who started his career with All India Radio, was a versatile actor of Hindi cinema. He also acted in British and American films. He is known for his roles in Shatranj Ke Khiladi, Ram Teri Ganga Maili and Chasme Baddoor.

Om Puri (1950–2017)

Coming from a very poor family, Om Puri became the face of art films in Hindi cinema. With Naseeruddin Shah, he made a stunning impact in Hindi cinema with his flair for natural acting.


Raza Murad (1950)

A talented actor. Raza Murad got special recognition because of his powerful voice. He stole the thunder in a small role in Namak Haram. Raj Kapoor gave a lot of opportunities to him which helped him get his due in the industry.

Pran (1920–2013)

Pran, who did more than 350 films, was the most popular villain in Hindi films. Such was his fear that people would refrain from naming their children after him for many years. He commanded a remuneration that few heroes could get in those days.

Om Prakash (1919–1998)

Om Prakash, who started his career with All India Radio, is remembered due to his distinct style of dialogue delivery. He worked as a film journalist before he was bitten by the acting bug.


Anupam Kher (1955)

One of the most successful character actors, he played an old man in Mahesh Bhatt's film Saaransh to make his mark. Kher, who was seen in The Kashmir Files earlier this year, was also the chairman of FTII Pune.


Shah Rukh Khan (1965)

Known as King Khan, he impressed the audiences in Deewana, his first release. He did not look back. Baazigar, Darr, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Karan-Arjun but Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge made him the numero uno.

Salman Khan (1965)

He hit the big league with his second film Maine Pyar Kiya but he had to wait for a couple of years to establish himself. A big star, his films are awaited by his loyal fans every Eid.


Aamir Khan (1965)

He attained stardom with his very first film, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and followed it up with more hits like 3 Idiots, Raja Hindustani, Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke, Dil and Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar. Known to be a perfectionist, he has a flair for making films on offbeat subjects.

Pankaj Kapur (1954)

He got a small role in Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi. It gave him confidence and recognition. But his talent came to the fore with films like Ek Doctor Ki Maut, Jaane Bhi Do Yarom, Chameli Ki Shaadi, and Mohan Joshi Hajir Ho.


Ranbir Kapoor (1982)


Rishi Kapoor's son and the youngest superstar of the Kapoor family, Ranbir is counted among the most talented actors of his generation. He has already won six Filmfare Awards so far. He is one of the highest-paid actors today despite a string of flops.

Akshay Kumar (1967)

Akshay Kumar started off as an action hero but climbed up the ladder of success with his comic timing in films like Her Pheri and Welcome. More than three decades after making his debut, he remains one of the most popular actors in Hindi cinema today.

Ajay Devgan (1969)

His very first film, Phool Aur Kaante turned out to be a superhit.  He gradually consolidated his position with films like Jigar, Dilwale, Suhaag, Vijaypath, Diljale, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Tanhaji.


Mithun Chakraborty (1950)

He won National Award for his debut film Mrigaya but did not attain superstardom until Disco Dancer. He was once called the ‘poor man’s Bachchan’, but he remained a star in his own right with a massive following of his own in the 1980s.


Manoj Bajpayee (1969)

Manoj Bajpayee failed to make it to the National School of Drama but he proved his acting prowess in films like Bandit Queen, Satya, Gangs Of Wasseypur, Shool, Aligarh and Rajneeti, A three-time recipient of the National Award.

Johnny Walker (1926–2003)

Johnny Walker, who worked in more than 300 films, is remembered as one of the greatest comedians. Johnny worked as a bus conductor before he impressed Guru Dutt and other filmmakers with his superb comedy skills.


Shriram Lagoo (1927– 2019)

Shriram Lagoo was a big name in Marathi theatre before he decided to move to the cinema. Pinjara, Gharaonda, Kinara, Khuddar and Muqaddar Ka Sikandar were the important films of his career.

Asrani (1940)

A versatile actor, Asrani has done more than 350 films in a film career spanning fifty years. He is best remembered for his comedy roles, including his jailor act in Sholay.

Nana Patekar (1951)

Nana Patekar shifted from Marathi films to Hindi cinema and quickly made his presence felt with films like Ankush, Parinda, Welcome and many more.

Amjad Khan (1940–1992)

Known for his versatility, Amjad Khan did more than 100 films in a film career spanning two decades, Best remembered for his negative roles, he became immortal by playing the character of Gabbar Singh in Sholay.


Sunny Deol (1956)

He came with a bang with a romantic role in Betaab and also proved himself in action movies like Ghatak, Ghayal, Ziddi, Indian, Tridev and Border. He emerged as the poster boy of patriotism. His Gadar remains an all-time blockbuster.

Paresh Rawal (1955)

Paresh Rawal remains one of the most powerful character actors in Hindi cinema. He is known for playing all kinds of characters, from a comedian to a villain.  

Kader Khan (1937–2018)

Kader Khan was a teacher before he joined the film industry. He first got the job of writing films and earned fame as a dialogue writer. He later played hundreds of characters in several blockbusters.


Irrfan Khan (1967–2020)

After passing out from NSD, he landed a role in Mira Nair's Salaam Bombay but he attained fame much later with Maqbool and Haasil. He also made it to Hollywood as an intense actor.,

Mehmood (1932–2004)

Remembered as one of the most successful comedians of Hindi cinema, Mehmood overshadowed many heroes in his heyday. He also produced films helping Amitabh among others to get a foothold in the industry.

Prem Chopra (1935)

Prem Chopra, who did about 400 films in a career spanning nearly six decades, is remembered mostly for his negative characters. Bobby, Daag, Naseeb, and Kati Patang were important films in his career.


Danny Denzongpa (1948)

Danny Denzongpa, who has done about 200 films in a career spanning 50 years, is one of the most accomplished actors. He got recognition with Gulzar's film Mere Apne and did not look back.


Utpal Dutt (1929–1993)

Utpal Dutt, who held a special place in Hindi cinema due to his distinctive style, worked in Bengali theatre. He was a member of the Bharatiya Jana Natya Sangh and also did a lot of work in English theatre but the Hindi film audience remembers him in films like Golmaal.


Ajit (1922–1998)

Ajit, who did about 200 films in a film career spanning 40 years, made his debut as a lead actor but switched to playing villainous characters. Zanjeer and Kalicharan made him a suave villain.


Jeevan (1915–1987)

Jeevan is remembered as one of the earliest villains of Hindi cinema. His passion for films brought life to Mumbai. He also played the character of Narad Muni in several mythological films.

Jayant (1915-1975)

Zakaria Khan aka Jayant was a theatre actor. A powerful performer, he worked in Hindi and Gujarati films. He made his debut in director Vijay Bhatt's Sansar Leela.

Girish Karnad (1938–2019)

Girish Karnad was a celebrated playwright. Many of his plays are considered to be milestones in the world of theatre. Manthan, Nishant, Bhumika, Iqbal and Utsav have been his important Hindi films.

Premnath (1926–1992)


Premnath, who made his debut in Hindi films in 1948, acted in nearly 100 films in his film career spanning over three decades. A versatile actor, he is known for films such as Barsaat, Johny Mera Naam, Kalicharan and Dharmatma.

Agha (1914–1992)

Agha is remembered as a successful comedian in Hindi cinema. He was very fond of horse racing but destiny brought him to Hindi films. Anhoni, Insaniyat, Lalkaar, Jab Jab Phool Khile and Jugnu were important films of his career.

A K Hangal (1914–2012)

AK Hangal mostly played elderly characters in films such as Sholay. He was associated with Balraj Sahni and Kaifi Azmi during his IPTA days, He also took part in the freedom movement.


Bhagwan Dada (1913-2002)

Bhagwan Dada got recognition in Hindi cinema with Albela. Its song, Shola Jo Bhadke Se made him a dancing star and his style was imitated by big stars like Amitabh Bachchan.


Pankaj Tripathi (1976)

Pankaj Tripathi did Ramlila in his village in Bihar and reached the tinsel town via the National School of Drama. He had to struggle for eight years before Anurag Kashyap's Gangs of Wasseypur brought him glory.

K N Singh (1908–2000)

KN Singh was a popular villain and character actor of his time. He wanted to be a sports star or an army man. But he had family ties with Prithviraj Kapoor, which paved the way for his entry into films.


Nawazuddin Siddiqui (1969)

A gifted actor, Nawazuddin Siddiqui struggled for years before he was noticed by Bollywood. He became an overnight star after Anurag Kashyap's Gangs of Wasseypur hit the screens.

David (1909–1982)

David, who did more than 100 films in a film career spanning over 40 years, is an important name in the history of Hindi cinema. He was fond of films which made him try his luck in the Hindi film industry.

Deven Verma (1937– 2014)

Deven Verma is best remembered for his comic roles in films by directors Gulzar, Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Basu Chatterjee. He did subtle comedy in films such as Angoor when loud comedy was in vogue.


Kanhaiyalal (1910–1982)

Kanhaiyalal was one of the most accomplished actors of his time. He was in love with the theatre, which brought him to Mumbai. Mehboob Khan's film Mother India proved to be an important film of his career where he played Lala Sukhilal. Sahara, Sitara, Jeet, Naukri and Heera were his other important films.

Iftekhar (1920–1995)

A much sought-after character actor in Hindi films, he was a fan of singer Kundan Lal Saigal since childhood and wanted to become a singer like him. It took him to Kolkata, from where the doors of the film world opened for him. After the partition of India, Iftikhar's family moved to Pakistan while he stayed back in India.


Rahman (1921–1984)

Rahman was an important part of director Guru Dutt's team. He carved a special identity through excellent acting in Guru Dutt's films. Pyaar Ki Jeet, Pyaasa, Saheb, Biwi Aur Ghulam, Chaudhvin  Ka Chand, Waqt were his successful films.


Ranveer Singh (1985)

One of the most talented actors of the present generation, he excelled in films like Bajirao Mastani, Padmavat, Simmba, Gully Boy and 83.

Sadashiv Amrapurkar (1950–2014)

Sadashiv Amrapurkar, who did nearly 300 films in a film career spanning three decades, is remembered as a successful villain in Hindi cinema. In the nineties, he made a mark with his negative roles in films such as Sadak.