Indian film industry has always been dominated by actors. They play a very crucial part in the film. Even the success of the film also depends on them. Actors are treated more than stars. They are like demi-gods to their fans.
Here, I have made a list of top ten Indian actors of all time. Actors have been taken from different region films based on their performances, popularity, success, skill and contribution to the film industry.
You may agree or disagree with me as some of the legendary figures have not been included in this list. That is why, I ask apologize to all readers.
Dilip Kumar (Hindi):
Dilip Kumar is a living legend actor in Hindi film industry. Though he was born as Muhammad Yusuf Khan, this Indian actor and former Member of Parliament started his acting career in 1944 in Jwar Bhata with a screen name, Dilip Kumar, given by Hindi Author Bhagwati Charan Varma.
Since his debut on a big screen, Dilip Kumar has spanned five decades and acted over 60 films and appeared in diverse roles such as the romantic Andaz (1949), the swashbuckling Aan (1952), the dramatic Devdas (1955), the comical Azaad (1955), the historical Mughal-e-Azam (1960) and the social Ganga Jamuna (1961).
His debut film could not give him much success as a leading actor. However, he didn’t have to wait for a long time as he got first major success with the film Jugnu released in 1947.
For his performances in the romantic melodramas Mela (1948), Andaz (1949), Deedar (1951), Daag (1954), Devdas (1955), Naya Daur (1957), Yahudi (1958) and Madhumati (1958), he got the screen image "Tragedy King".
Dilip Kumar has been described as the greatest actor ever. Legendary figures like Amitabh Bachan and Satyajit Ray has described him as "the Ultimate, the best" and "the ultimate method actor". He is considered to be one of the greatest actors of Indian cinema. He is also known as the acting king of Hindi cinema.
For his performance in the 1952 film Daag, he got Filmfare Best Actor Award and became the first Indian actor to receive such prestigious award and with eight wins, he shares the record along with Shahrukh Khan for the most number of Filmfare Awards won for that category.
Amitabh Bachchan (Hindi):Amitabh Bachchan is undoubtedly one of the most popular figures in Hindi film industry. Despite his late sixties, he is still considered to be one of the most powerful actors in Bollywood. He is also regarded as one of the greatest and powerful actors in the history of Indian cinema. He has spanned more than four decades and acted in over 180 Indian films. For his acting performance, he is called Big B, Shahenshah etc.
It was not easy for him to make his entrance in the film industry. At first, he made his debut as a voice narrator in 1969 in Mrinal Sen's National Award winning film Bhuvan Shome. He got his first acting opportunity in Khwaja Ahmad Abbas directed Saat Hindustani as one of the seven protagonists.
He was not well accepted as a hero because of his tall height and fair body color. He had to struggle hard to cement his place as a hero. However, he gained popularity in the early 1970s as the "angry young man" of Hindi cinema.
In his career, he has won numerous major awards including four National Film Awards, and fourteen Filmfare Awards. With 36 nominations overall, he has become the most-nominated performer in any major acting category at Filmfare.
Amitabh Bachchan is a man with versatile geniuses. He is well known as a playback singer, film producer and television presenter. He hosts the television game show Kaun Banega Crorepati. His company ABCL produced many films and unfortunately most of the films were flop. He also entered politics briefly.
Kamal Haasan (Tamil):
Kamal Haasan is one of the very few lucky actors who has gained equal popularity in almost all the major Indian language films- Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi. He is also one of very few actors to have completed 50 years in cinema.
In his long acting career, he has starred in more than 150 movies including all the major Indian languages and a big portion of his acted films are Tamil. He won several Indian film awards, including four National Film Awards and numerous Filmfare Awards. He is perhaps the one and only Indian actor bagging more than 18 Filmfare awards.
He made his acting debut as a four-year-old child artist in Kalathur Kannamma where he starred alongside the veteran Tamil actor Gemini Ganesan. It helped him to get the National Film Award for Best Child Artist. He went on to act as a child actor in five other Tamil films. He is considered to be one of the method actors in the Indian cinema.
Kamal Haasan made his debut as an adult in the 1975 drama Apoorva Raagangal, in which he played a rebellious youth in love with an older woman. After that, he went on to act in several romantic films. Some of his notable films are 16 Vayadhinilae, Nayakan, Guna, Mahanadhi, Hey Ram and Alavandaan.
If you are a fan of Indian cinema then you should have heard the name of Rajinikanth. He is said to be one of the most powerful actors in Indian cinema. Casting Rajinikanth in the male lead role always work like a magic. His name was enough to attract millions of fans and make a film box-office hit.
His way of delivering speech, style and mannerisms helped him to get huge popularity. Because of these qualities he could ruled the film industry for more than three decades. He has acted in almost all of the Indian film industries but most of his films were in Tamil language.
Before making his entrance to the film industry, he had to do all types of odd jobs, including carpenter, coolie, buss conductor. K. Balachander directed 1975 Tamil movie Apoorva Raagangal gave him the opportunity to make his debut as a co-star alongside Kamal Haasan. His role was small and less important but he could catch the attention of movie lovers. After that, he went on to act as a co-star in several films.
However, he was cast as a main hero in the 1978 film Bairavi. This film was box office hit and he didn’t have to look back. With Allauddinum Albhutha Vilakkum, he made his Malayalam film-debut released in 1979. He also made his entrance in Bengali cinema through Bhagya Debata, which released at the end of 1995. In his 2007 film Sivaji, he was paid 26 crore (US$5.9 million) for his role and became the highest paid actor in Asia after Jackie Chan.
He had acted in more than 150 films across various film industries of India and has won a Filmfare Best Tamil Actor Award and six Tamil Nadu State Film Awards, including four Best Actor Awards and two Special Awards for Best Actor.
For his contribution to Indian cinema, he was given to Padma Bhushan in 2000. Except acting, he also worked as a producer and screenwriter.
Vikram Kennedy (Tamil):
Vikram Kennedy is one of the most popular faces in Tamil film industry. He is undoubtedly one of the best actors in Indian cinema. He is also highly talented and handsome actor. He will be remembered to the minds of his fans for his acting skill and style.
He made his acting debut in 1990 with the film En Kadhal Kanmani and during 1990s; he acted in a number of small-budget films in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam languages. However, his first breakthrough came in 1998 with the Sethu directed by Bala. In this film, Vikram appeared as a rogue turned lover and it helped him to get fame as an actor.
In 2000, he appeared in a number of masala films, with Dhill (2001), Gemini (2002), Dhool (2003) and Saamy (2003). These films got commercial success. His career has spanned more than two decades and acted in almost 50 movies.
For his performances in Tamil movie, he has got Filmfare Award for Best Actor four times and one National Film Award and Tamil Nadu State Film Award.
Uttam Kumar (Bengali):
Uttam Kumar is a legendary figure in Bengali film industry. He is regarded as the super star of Bengali cinema and the most popular Bengali film actor ever. The void that was created because of his death more than thirty years ago could not be replaced by anyone till now. He was blessed with versatility. He was a talented actor, director, producer, singer and music director and because of his multifaceted talent he was gained much acclaim and adulation.
He was born as Arun Kumar Chatterjee in 1926 to a middle class family in Calcutta, but he is widely known as Uttam Kumar and Mahanayak. Nitin Bose directed Drishtidan was his first released film which got released in 1948. Before this film, he acted in Mayador which was not released. After that, he acted in a number of films but Basu Paribar helped him to get popularity.
Uttam Kumar had successful on screen pair with Suchitra Sen. This pair’s first film was Sharey Chuattor (74 and a half anna), but his first breakthrough film with Suchitra Sen was Agni Pariksha. With this film, Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen got huge popularity as romantic pair and their combination became a very house hold name to Bengali movie lovers. After that, they gave several successful films.
Uttam Kumar also acted in some Hindi films such as Chhoti Si Mulaqat, Amanush, Anand Ashram, Dooriyaan, and Kitaabwith, but he could not gain that much success in Bollywood.
He died on 24th July 1980 at the age of 53.
Mammootty is a big name in Malayalam film industry. Those who watch Malayalam cinema should know this legendary figure.
Since making his debut in 1971 with the film Anubhavangal Paalichakal directed by K. S. Sethumadhavan, he has acted in more than three decades and acted in more than 360 films. He is the second Indian actor after Prem Nazir to act in the number of lead roles in Indian films. In his long acting career, he also appeared in duel roles nine times in Malayalam films which is still highest in number.
Besides acting in Malayalam films, he also appeared in a few Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, and Kannada films. Some of his notable films are Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha (1989), Mathilukal (1990), Ponthan Mada (1994), Vidheyan (1994), and Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar (2000).
For his performances in movies, he got numerous awards, including the National Film Award for Best Actor three times, five Kerala State Film Awards and eleven Filmfare Awards. For his contribution to Indian cinema, he was given the Padma Shri award and became the first Malayali actor to get this honour.
He was given Doctor of Letters by University of Kerala in January 2010 and by University of Calicut in December 2010.
Mohanlal is a name of a popular Malayalam actor who is blessed with versatility. He got well reuptation for his natural acting in Indian cinema. There is no doubt about his talent in acting. He was good in both comedy and serious roles. It is obviously a rare talent that not too many actors can expose with the same ease. Fans should remember him for his comedy roles and unique style of dialogue delivery. He is considerd as one of the finest actors in Indian cinema and is a cultural icon.
His first film was Thiranottam which was not released. However, he started his career in a villain role in Manjil Virinja Pookkal in which Fazil also made his directorial debut. It was also the debut film for both Shankar and Poornima Jayaram who played the lead roles. After the success of this film, Mohanlal did not have to look back and went on to give many hit films.
He has spanned more than thirty years in the film industry and acted over hundreds of films and bagged numerous awards, including four Indian National Film Awards and one Award for Best Film as producer along with six Kerala State Film Awards for Best Actor.
He was given to India's fourth highest civilian honour, Padma Shri, award for his contribution to Malayalam film industry.
Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao (Telugu):
Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao is a well-known Telugu actor. He is widely known as NTR and fondly referred to as Anna Garu. He was an actor with versatile geniuses. Besides acting, he had directed and produced many films. He was also actively involved in politics.
Though he made his debut as an actor in Mana Desam (1949), he got stardom in the early 1950s as "messiah of the masses" and has become one of the most prominent figures in the history of Telugu cinema. After that, he acted in a number of films in a antagonistic roles. In Palletoori Pilla, he was selected as a hero for the first time.
He will be rememberd to the hearts of Telugu movie lovers for his portrayals of Hindu idols, especially Lord Krishna and Lord Rama. He was the founder of the Telugu Desam Party in 1982 and served 3 terms as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh between 1983 and 1994. For his contribution to Telugu cinema he was Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1968.
Chiranjeevi is a towering figure in Telugu film industry. He is also widely regarded as "Megastar" in the media. He has huge fan following in Andhra Pradesh.
Apart from this power packed performances in movies, this macho man is well known for his extraordinary dances and fights.
His real name is Siva Sankara Varaprasad but with a screen name “Chiranjeevi” suggested by his mother, he made his acting debut in the film Punadhirallu. His first released film was Pranam Khareedu.
He started getting fame with the 1981 film Initilo Ramayya Vidhilo Krishnayya. His screen persona along with his film roles contributed to a change in the concept of a Telugu film lead actor. He has acted different types of characters and won numerous awards.
He has already taken retirement from acting and now keeping his life busy in politics and humanitarian works. Forming Praja Rajyam Party in 2008, he entered into politics and in 2009, he was elected as the State Assembly from Tirupati constituency.