Nowadays, it seems you need to be a celebrity to become a celebrity.
More often than not, Bollywood rolls out its red carpet to the children of big stars, directors with connections in B-town, or winners of beauty pageants. It’s rare that a complete unknown makes it big in tinseltown.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t have true-blue success stories – just like in the films! We take a look at some popular stars of today who made it big not because of sugar daddies or godfathers, but because they believed in their talent and grit.
#20 – Taapsee Pannu
The most talked about actress had started her career as a model and had also been famous for her incredible work in South Cinema. Coming from a regular family in New Delhi, popularity in Bollywood came over a period of time to her since her debut with Chashme Baddoor. Her breakthrough moment, however, was a small role as an agent in Neeraj Pandey’s Baby which suddenly made Bollywood take notice of her. The 2016 mega-hit PINK produced by Sujoy Ghosh escalated Taapsee and since then there’s been no looking back for this actress delivering several hits including Naam Shabana and Judwaa 2 in 2017.
#19 – Bhumi Pednekar
Bhumi is one of the most hardworking actresses we have seen in Bollywood. She has been working as assisting Casting Director in Yash Raj films for several years. After that, she tried her talent in Bollywood with her first movie Dum Laga Ke Haisha directed by Sharat Katariya along with Ayushmann Khurrana and earned recognition. Later, she got roles in many movies like Toilet: Ek Prem Katha and Shubh Mangal Savdhaan, Pati Patni aur Voh and many more.
#18 – Pankaj Tripathi
In the last few years, Pankaj Tripathi has emerged as one of the most promising actors. Not just in films, Tripathi has made a mark in the web space as well and merging the two mediums, he will soon be seen in the supporting roles in Akshay’s Bacchan Pandey and Aamir’s Laal Singh Chaddha this year . Tripathi’s credible performances have often reminded the audience that it is not the length of the role, but its execution that makes a lasting impression.
#17 – Katrina Kaif
Born to a Kashmiri father and English mother in Hong Kong, Katrina spent most of her growing up years moving from country to country. She’s live in China, Japan, France and several European countries before settling down in England. Her striking looks caught the eye of agencies and she began modelling at the age of 14. Modelling also brought her to the notice of London-based filmmaker Kaizad Gustad, who cast her in Boom. The film was an abysmal flop, but that didn’t stop Katrina from moving to Mumbai. She faced a tough few years because no one wanted to cast an actress with such a poor command of Hindi. However, Ram Gopal Varma’s Sarkar and David Dhawan’s Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya brought her recognition. The 2007 Namastey London changed her fortunes, and today she is on the top of every producer’s list.
#16 – Kangana Ranaut
Kangana Ranaut was only 16 when she decided that she will take the big step towards her choice of career. She came to Delhi and got herself enrolled in a modelling agency. That agency, later on, sent her to Mumbai so that she can give auditions and try her luck in films. Her agent took her to Mahesh Bhatt’s office where she got rejected because she looked too young but later on Anurag Basu gave her an impactful role in ‘Gangster’. She has done projects like Queen, Tanu Weds Manu, Rangoon etc. She is also one of the highest-paid actresses in the industry today.
#15 – Sushant Singh Rajput
Sushant was born in Patna, Bihar where his father worked as a government official. He came to Mumbai and got himself a role in Ekta Kapoor’s daily soap ‘Pavitra Rishta. He worked in TV for years before he entered Bollywood with Abhishek Kapoor’s “Kai Po Che!” (2013) and this film won him several debut awards that year. The actor followed it up with films like “Shuddh Desi Romance”, “PK” and “Detective Byomkesh Bakshy”, all of which have won him appreciation but M.S. Dhoni – The Untold Story increased his fan following overnight.
#14 – Rajkummar Rao
Rajkummar is one of the most talented actors of Bollywood. His journey of Bollywood started with his debut in an experimental anthology ‘Love, Sex Aur Dhoka’ as Adarsh which was released in 2010. The movie was directed by Dibakar Banerjee and since then Rao hasn’t stopped being seen in Bollywood films. Later, he worked in many movies like Ragini MMS, Gangs of Wasseypur, Talaash, Kai Po Che!,Stree etc. However, it was in 2017 that things took a turn for the better, the talented actor finally was getting the worth of his talent and being recognized by the masses. She did films and incredible performances like Bareily Ki Barfi, the Indian Oscar selection Newton and others. The actors recently even were honored by Rising Asia Talent Award by Variety Magazine.
#13 – Anushka Sharma
Anushka once said in an interview that she wanted to make it big in the modelling world and had no aspiration for films. She was picked by fashion designer Wendell Rodricks as a model for Lakme Fashion Week in 2007. Since then, there has been no looking back for this young, bright ‘actress’. Anushka made her acting debut in Yash Raj Films’ “Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi” opposite Shah Rukh Khan in 2008.
#12 – Ranveer Singh
Ranveer worked as a copywriter before coming into movies and also gave auditions for commercials, music videos, etc. till he got the project ‘Band Baaja Baraat’. After his first movie, Ranveer did not stop and gave hit films back to back and today is on the top of the Bollywood Industry. He did several movies like Padmaavat, Gully Boy, Bajirao Mastani, Goliyon Ki Raasleela: Ramleela, Simmba and many more.
#11 – Priyanka Chopra
Priyanka Chopra won her first title as Miss World at the young age of 18. After that, she faced a lot of troubles leading her to almost quitting her dream. But at the same time, she landed herself a role in the film ‘Andaaz’ which turned out to be a super hit film. One of the most successful Bollywood actresses, Priyanka Chopra has now taken the world by storm and is on a roll. Now, Actress is making herself known in Hollywood as well.
#10 – Nawazuddin Siddiqui
An actor well-known for his acting skills, he came to Mumbai in 2004, and it was one of his bad times as he was unable to even pay rent. There was a time in the early 2000s when he was mostly out of work and shared a flat with four others. He did many small roles but did not become famous. Nawazuddin made his Bollywood debut in 1999, with a small role in the Aamir Khan-starrer “Sarfarosh”. He did several small roles, but was largely undiscovered but soon he was recognizable and famous by audiences when the film “Gangs Of Waseypur” came. This film was a milestone in his career. With his films having traveled around the world today — from the local festivals to the Cannes — he is a recognized face in India and globally.
#9 – Deepika Padukone
The eye candy of Bollywood was very young when she came to Mumbai in search of her dreams. That’s when she landed herself in some advertisement assignments. Later on, she was starred in Himesh Reshammiya’s music video. That’s when she caught the eyes of Farah Khan and got herself the lead role opposite Shah Rukh Khan in ‘Om Shanti Om’. In 2008, Maybelline made her its new international cover face. Subsequently, she won the ‘Model of the Year’ at the Kingfisher Fashion Awards and she is the highest paid actress in the industry today.
#8 – Vidya Balan
Vidya Balan is in the industry because of pure talent. She worked in almost 90 ads before she was cast in one of Euphoria’s music video. Vidya first faced the camera in a popular TV show “Hum Paanch” in 1995. Later, she got ‘Parineeta’ opposite Saif Ali Khan which made her what she is today. The face of woman-centric films in India today, Vidya is among the most sought-after Bollywood actresses.
#7 – Ayushmann Khurrana
Khurrana won the second season of reality television show MTV Roadies in 2004 and ventured into an anchoring career. He made his film debut in 2012 with the romantic comedy Vicky Donor, in which his performance as a sperm donor earned him the Filmfare Award for Best Male Debut. Following a brief setback, he starred in the commercially and critically successful romance Dum Laga Ke Haisha (2015). Khurrana went on to establish himself with the comedies Bareilly Ki Barfi (2017), Shubh Mangal Saavdhan (2017), Badhaai Ho (2018), Dream Girl (2019), and Bala (2019); the thriller Andhadhun (2018); and the crime drama Article 15 (2019). Khurrana’s performances as a blind pianist in Andhadhun and an honest cop in Article 15 won him two consecutive Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor, and he also won the National Film Award for Best Actor.
#6 – Aishwarya Rai Bachchan
Aishwarya Rai dropped out of college in the early nineties to pursue a career in modeling. She won the Miss World title in 1994.Three years later, the green-eyed beauty made her acting debut with the Tamil film “Iruvar”. The same year she starred in her first Bollywood film “Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya” opposite Bobby Deol.
#5 – Madhuri Dixit Nene
Born and raised in Bombay, Dixit initially aspired to study microbiology, but discontinued her studies when she received offers for film roles and made her acting debut in 1984 with a leading role in the drama Abodh. After a few commercially failed films, she had her breakthrough with the action romance Tezaab (1988). She won four Best Actress awards at the Filmfare Awards for her performances in them. Following a sabbatical from acting in 2002, Dixit starred in the musical Aaja Nachle (2007), and worked intermittently in the next decade, gaining appreciation for her starring roles in the black comedy Dedh Ishqiya (2014) and the Marathi comedy drama Bucket List (2018). Her highest-grossing release came with the adventure comedy Total Dhamaal (2019)
#4 – Manoj Bajpai
Manoj Bajpayee, the son of a farmer from Bihar, battled all odds to break into Bollywood. The recipient of two National Awards and a Padma Shri, he opened up about his journey and said that he once lost three roles in a single day adn now he is india most loved actor.
#3 – Irrfan Khan
Irrfan Khan is a well-known actor. He has done many Hollywood movies too, but before coming into films, he did not have any links in the Bollywood Industry. He struggled a lot but did not give up and worked in many tv serials before coming into films. He is a self-made celebrity. He has done movies like Thank you, Pan Singh Tomar, Madari, Hindi Medium,etc.
#2 – Akshay Kumar
The Khiladi Kumar is said to be a waiter before he came to Bollywood. Akshay Kumar made his debut in Bollywood with a small role in Mahesh Bhatt’s “Aaj” (1987). The star was seen in a lead in the film ‘Saugandh’ in the year 1991 and after that, he signed ‘Khiladi’ which was a super hit film and is his identity as well. He is one of the finest and down to earth actors Bollywood has ever seen.
#1 – Shah Rukh Khan
The Delhi born-and-bred actor, who trained under a city theatre group, came to Mumbai in the late eighties and Now He is the biggest movie star in the world, and made it thus far with no godfathers or filmi connections.
His father ran a transport company and his mother was a magistrate and a social worker. It was Shah Rukh’s dream to enter films and, after doing his masters in Mass Communications from Jamia Millia Islamia, he trained under theatre director Barry John.
SRK got his break in the 1988 with the television series Fauji. And after starring in serials like Dil Dariya and Circus, he made his entry into Bollywood with Deewana.
The rest of the story, as they say, is history.