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18 Previous Bollywood Icons I Guess You Did not Know About (However You Actually Ought to)

We all know Previous Hollywood — now it is time to speak Previous Bollywood.

Table of Contents


Madhubala’s identify is just about synonymous with Bollywood. Born in 1933, she is thought to be some of the lovely, gifted, and influential personalities of Indian cinema. She’s generally known as the “Marilyn Monroe of Bollywood” (as a result of we all the time want a Western comparability to know the magnitude of the success of South Asians 😩).

OP Movies

In most movies, her identify would come earlier than the movie’s lead male actor, which was uncommon for that point however a testomony to her reputation! She is related most along with her magnum opus Mughal-e-Azam (1960) because the ill-fated courtesan Anarkali.

Heartbreakingly, her life was reduce brief on the peak of her stardom; she died in 1969 at age 36 from a protracted sickness attributable to a coronary heart defect. An icon of the Golden Age of Bollywood (Nineteen Forties-Sixties), she is well-loved and revered even at the moment. In 2018, The New York Instances revealed a belated obituary and in 2019, Google commemorated her with a Doodle.


Considered the “Meryl Streep of India” and the primary true feminine famous person of Indian cinema, Sridevi’s profession spanned 5 a long time. Born in 1963, she was identified for her portrayals of robust vigorous girls and her massive expressive eyes, and she or he was extremely regarded for her appearing vary.

Yash Raj Movies, MAD Movies

She was the recipient of a Nationwide Movie Award and 5(!) Filmfare Awards.

Her premature loss of life in 2018 from unintended drowning shocked the nation and made worldwide headlines. She was one of many solely two Indian stars honored in memoriam on the ninetieth Academy Awards. Her final movie was Mother (2017), a thriller. It goes with out saying that she’s missed enormously 😞.


Amitabh Bachchan is called one of many biggest and most influential Bollywood actors — no record like that is full with out him. Born in 1942 and affectionately generally known as “Big B,” Bachchan is a reigning icon of Basic Bollywood (the Seventies-Eighties). He’s significantly well-known for his “angry young man” persona due to his portrayals of the wronged hero in opposition to a corrupt system within the ’70s.

Trimurti Movies, @amitabhbachchan / Through

This was seen as a pointy departure from the “romantic hero” and romance movies dominant in Bollywood on the time. In different phrases, he dared to be totally different.

He has earned 4 Nationwide Movie Awards and 16 Filmfare Awards for his work. Immediately, his son, Abhishek Bachchan, is a distinguished Bollywood actor.


Raj Kapoor was fairly a heartthrob throughout his time 😍. Born in1924, he is generally known as the best showman within the historical past of Bollywood and the “Charlie Chaplin” of India attributable to his quirky appearing type. He was nominated twice for the Palme d’Or grand prize on the Cannes Movie Competition within the ’50s, obtained three Nationwide Movie Awards, and gained India’s highest award in cinema in 1987! Phew!

Rawal Movies

Kapoor’s movies — which he acted in, directed, and produced — are standard all through Asia and Europe. He is some of the distinguished members of the Kapoor household, aka “the first family of Indian cinema” (with 5 generations and virtually 100 years within the movie business!).

His son Rishi Kapoor was well-known all through the ’70s, and his grandson Ranbir Kapoor and granddaughter Kareena Kapoor are two of the largest superstars in Bollywood at the moment. One other one in all his grandsons married Amitabh Bachchan’s daughter! The connections are everywhere 😂.


Vyjayanthimala is without doubt one of the most iconic actresses within the golden period. Born in 1936, she is well known for being the primary South Indian to turn out to be a Bollywood star. She broke obstacles and was a key determine in introducing classical dance to the business. She was additionally the primary individual to ever refuse a Filmfare Award. Numerous firsts right here so kudos to her!

RK Movies, The India Immediately Group / The India Immediately Group through Getty

Her poise and doe eyes have been typically identified by media. One among her most iconic movies is Sangam (1964), which additionally starred our very personal Raj Kapoor!

On the time, Sangam was the primary Indian movie shot in Europe, the longest-running movie in India, the first-ever movie to have two intervals, and thought of Bollywood’s biggest love triangle. We stan an actress with so many firsts!


Recognized for her grace and heat display screen presence, Nargis, born in 1929, was one of many largest names within the business. A lot of her iconic movies noticed her paired with Raj Kapoor (over 16 movies; their chemistry was unbelievable!). Plus, songs from these movies are among the most popular classic songs in Bollywood at the moment.

RK Movies

Attention-grabbing reality: Nargis was pals with Madhubala and helped put together Madhubala’s physique for her funeral 😔. She herself died of pancreatic most cancers simply three days earlier than her son Sanjay Dutt made his appearing debut.

Immediately, Sanjay Dutt can also be a well known identify within the business!


Rekha, born in 1954, is lauded for breaking away from conventional roles and enjoying robust, impartial, and tempestuous feminine characters — ones that may maintain their very own in opposition to the male lead.

Yash Raj Movies, AFP / Getty Photographs

She can also be identified for her work ethic. Early in her profession, she was criticized closely for her appears. Decided to show the business improper, Rekha underwent a shocking transformation, honing her appearing approach and her look, to then emerge within the ’80s as some of the coveted display screen personalities of the period.

This capacity of hers to efficiently reinvent herself at totally different factors in her profession is well-noted!


Sharmila Tagore is acclaimed as a key affect through the Bengali Renaissance and has labored in each Hindi and Bengali cinema. Oh yeah, she’s up there. Born in 1944, her ’60s aesthetic is iconic — as is her trademark eyeliner and dimple.

Shakti Movies, Instances of India

She has gained two Nationwide Movie Awards. Her son is Saif Ali Khan, some of the distinguished Bollywood actors at the moment, and her granddaughter (Saif Ali Khan’s daughter) is Sara Ali Khan, who made her movie debut in 2018.

She’s additionally associated to Rabindranath Tagore, the author who closely reformed Bengali literature and music!


Like Sridevi, Rajesh Khanna is known as the primary true male famous person of Indian cinema and the primary romantic hero in Bollywood! Born in 1942, his movies have been identified for his or her superhit songs, a lot of which at the moment are classics. (This song is the place the above screenshot of Sharmila Tagore comes from!) The terribly massive fan following he amassed has been famous by his fellow actors for being uncommon and the primary of its sort within the business.


Modern actors have mentioned this type of craze stays unmatched by even the largest stars at the moment. His co-stars, together with Sharmila Tagore, have spoken about how followers would kiss his automotive and the way he wanted police safety in public!

He starred in 15 consecutive hits from 1969 to 1971, a file that continues to be unbroken. After his loss of life in 2012, he was honored with a statue. His son-in-law is Bollywood famous person Akshay Kumar.


A legend at this level, Dilip Kumar is called “The Tragedy King” and “the ultimate method actor.” Born in 1922, he has been credited for pioneering a way appearing approach that predated Hollywood technique actors. He holds the Guinness World Document for many awards gained by an Indian actor 😱! And at virtually 100 years previous(!!!) as of 2021, Kumar is without doubt one of the final surviving stars of the Golden Age 🥺.

Filmfare, @thedilipkumar / Through Twitter: @TheDilipKumar

Kumar’s profession spanned 5 a long time. He has been known as an affect by virtually each Bollywood actor, from Amitabh Bachchan within the basic period to Shah Rukh Khan within the current.

All through his profession, he was most frequently paired with Vyjayanthimala as a result of the 2 had nice chemistry! He additionally starred because the prince reverse Madhubala in milestone movie Mughal-e-Azam (1960).


Recognized for her unconventional roles — which have been thought of pathbreaking — and her understated but impactful appearing type, Nutan was one of many few mentioned to share equal footing along with her male counterpart onscreen. Born in 1936, she’s famous for not becoming the traditional concepts of magnificence. She was skinny and gangly at a time when the business most well-liked plump and petite (however um, have you ever seen her? She was lovely).

Feminism India

Her efficiency in 1963 movie Bandini is thought to be one of many most interesting performances within the historical past of Indian cinema, and her character is taken into account one in all Bollywood’s strongest feminine characters!

She held the file of 5 wins of the Greatest Actress Filmfare Award for over 30 years(!). Her file was damaged by her personal niece, Kajol, one of many largest Bollywood stars at the moment.

Nutan additionally holds the title for oldest recipient of the Greatest Actress Filmfare Award (she was 42) and is the one actress of her era who took on main roles in her 40s with success. Google commemorated her in 2018 with a Doodle. Immediately, her son, Mohnish Bahl, is an actor as nicely.


Hema Malini, born in 1948, is called “Dream Girl” in Bollywood (becoming too — simply have a look at her!). Her “Dream Girl” persona turned so well-known that she even starred in a movie of the identical identify in 1977! She additionally performed the feminine lead in iconic movie Sholay (1975), generally known as one in all India’s high 10 greatest movies of all time, by which she starred alongside her future husband, Dharmendra!

Trimurti Movies, @dreamgirlhemamalini / Through

She’s additionally a educated Bharatanatyam dancer. Immediately, she helps many social causes, similar to animal rights.


Generally known as Bollywood’s first “He-Man” and motion king, Dharmendra’s rugged look made him voted among the many high 10 most good-looking males in Bollywood within the ’70s. Born in 1935, he’s greatest identified for iconic movie Sholay (1975), actually a defining film of the era, by which he starred alongside Amitabh Bachchan, and as talked about above, his future spouse, Hema Malini!

@aapkadharam / Through, Hema Malini / Twitter / Through Twitter: @dreamgirlhema

Yep, he is the fortunate man married to Bollywood’s Dream Woman! His most profitable pairing was along with her, and so they starred in numerous movies collectively till they lastly acquired married.

Immediately, his sons Sunny and Bobby Deol (from a earlier marriage earlier than Malini), are well-known Bollywood actors.


Coined the Tragedy Queen, Meena Kumari has been known as “a historically incomparable” actress in Indian cinema. Born in 1933, she was additionally a poet and vogue trendsetter within the ’50s. In different phrases, she was a BOSS. In an business dominated by males, Kumari was famous to be highly effective.

KA Movies

She was closely admired by her contemporaries. Apparently, even Dilip Kumar would get nervous in entrance of her! She made historical past on the tenth Filmfare Awards (1963) the place she obtained all three Greatest Actress nominations (and gained, too!).

In a flip eerily much like Madhubala, Kumari died on the peak of her stardom at age 38 from liver cirrhosis after struggling for 4 years. Her tragic life typically attracts comparisons to Marilyn Monroe. A lot of at the moment’s stars have acknowledged that whereas there could also be nice actresses, there’ll by no means be one other Meena Kumari.


The oldest star on this publish, Prithviraj Kapoor, born in 1906, is particular as a result of he started his profession through the silent period of Hindi cinema! He starred in India’s very first sound movie in 1931 (Alam Ara)! Thus, he is generally known as a pioneer of Indian theater and movie. And he actually is one in each sense of the phrase as a result of guess what? He is Raj Kapoor’s father and the patriarch of the cinematic Kapoor household!

Yep, he is the one who gave the business 4 generations of fantastic, influential actors (two generations of that are nonetheless energetic at the moment). He is the place it began!

Later in life, he performed the domineering emperor in Mughal-e-Azam (1960), alongside Dilip Kumar and Madhubala. Although he is not the preferred member of the Kapoor fam, he is actually an important for laying down the roots!


Born in 1947, Mumtaz is known for her type and flexibility all through the late ’60s to ’70s. She was additionally a distinguished intercourse image, and plenty of of her appears within the ’70s turned iconic. Simply have a look at that hair!


Why, say howdy to the “Elvis Presley” of India! That is proper, Shammi Kapoor was dubbed that attributable to his capacity to entertain the plenty and his “playboy” and “dancing hero” picture in his movies. Born in 1931, he’s a part of the Kapoor fam and is Raj Kapoor’s second youngest brother!


Enjoyable reality: he had proposed marriage to Mumtaz after they turned shut whereas filming a film collectively, however she politely refused as a result of he needed her to surrender her movie profession.


Devika Rani, born in 1908, is taken into account the very first girl of Indian cinema! She was socially unconventional, extremely educated, and — uncommon for the time — concerned in each side of filmmaking, from appearing to directing. Her movie Karma (1933) was the earliest Indian movie to characteristic a kissing scene (scandalous!). It lasted 4 minutes, a file at some stage in a kissing scene that continues to be unbroken in Indian cinema even at the moment! LOL.

She ran a manufacturing studio along with her husband, with which she launched then-newcomers (and future legends) Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, and Madhubala!

Rani can also be known as the “Dragon Lady” as a result of she was spunky, and, on the whole, a rulebreaker — as in, her apparel was thought of “risque,” she had a sizzling mood, she eloped with another person whereas married, after which after her husband’s loss of life, she retired and randomly married a Russian painter. Are you able to think about all that in a hyper-conservative Indian society? Like, she actually didn’t give a rattling. Adore it!

There are lots extra golden-age Bollywood stars I do know I missed! Let me know your fave within the feedback 🙂

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