Khans of Bollywood

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Salman Khan (left), Aamir Khan (middle), and Shah Rukh Khan (right)

The term Khans of Bollywood refers to several actors of Bollywood, the Mumbai-based Hindi language Indian film industry, whose surnames are Khan. Most commonly, this involves the Three Khans: Salman Khan , Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan. The three are unrelated, but happen to share the same surname,[1] and were all born in 1965.[2] Due to their longevity and high popularity, they are considered as the most successful movie stars in the history of Indian cinema.

The dominance of the three Khans at the Indian box office has been compared to that of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Hollywood.[1] Shah Rukh Khan frequently appears among the top three wealthiest actors in the world, while Aamir Khan has been the only Eastern actor to be ranked first in the world's highest-earning actors in films, and Salman Khan has been the highest paid celebrity in South Asia several times. They have also earned critical acclaim, between them winning 6 National Film Awards and 26 Filmfare Awards, as well as an Academy Award nomination for Aamir. They are some of the most famous Indians known overseas, and some of the world's biggest movie stars.[3] They have been reported by various sources to command high salary packages up to 50 crore (US$8.53 million) per movie.[4][5][6] The three Khans have had successful careers since the late 1980s,[7] and have dominated the Indian box office since the 1990s, across three decades.[8]

Combined, they have starred in eight of the top ten highest-grossing Bollywood films ever, half of the ten highest-grossing Indian films,[9] and nearly every annual top-grossing Bollywood film between 1989 and 2017 (except for 1992–1993 and 2006).[9][10][11] They officially created the 100 Crore Club:[12] the first films to gross 100 crore domestically was Salman's Hum Aapke Hain Koun (1994) [13][11] and Aamir Khan's Ghajini (2008) was the first to net 100 crore.[12] Aamir's Dangal (2016) created the Bollywood 1000 Crore Club, owing to its overseas success in Chinese markets, and eventually created the 2000 Crore Club, becoming the highest-grossing Indian film ever (worldwide and overseas), and one of the highest-grossing films in China and India, with his earnings from the film estimated to be 300 crore (US$46.07 million),[14] the highest payday for a non-Hollywood actor.[15] In 2014, Shah Rukh was the richest non-Hollywood actor and the second richest actor in the world, with an estimated net worth of US$600 million.[16] On the 2016 Forbes list of the 10 highest-paid actors in the world, Salman ranked sixth, with total earnings of US$33.5 million for the year.[17] On 2017's [18] and 2018's [19] Forbes list of the 10 highest-paid actors in the world, Salman Khan ranked 9th both years, earning $37 million and $38.5 million in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

In addition to the three Khans, there have been other Khans in Bollywood. The most famous Khan prior to them was Dilip Kumar, whose real name is Muhammad Yusuf Khan, for which he has been referred to as the "First Khan" of Bollywood. Kumar was the biggest Indian star of the 1950s and 1960s,[20] a matinee idol and the country's highest paid actor of the period.[21] His 1960 film Mughal-e-Azam was the first Indian film with an adjusted gross over 2000 crore, making it the highest-grossing Indian film for over six decades.[22][23] The term "fourth Khan" is sometimes used to refer to either Saif Ali Khan or Irrfan Khan. Many of the Khans of Bollywood notably belong to the ethnic Pathan community of India, with roots in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in today's Pakistan.[24]

Three Khans[edit]

Salman Khan[edit]

Salman Khan ramp walk in 2011.[25] He has been the most domestically successful Indian actor in the 2010s.[26]

Abdul Rashid Salim Salman Khan (born 27 December 1965) better known as Salman Khan (pronunciation : [səlˈmaːn xaːn];) is one of the biggest and the most economically viable actors of India. In recent years, every movie he has acted in as the main lead has commended over 100 Crores. Referred to in the media as "The Tiger of Bollywood", he is popularly called "Bhai"/"Bhaijaan" and "Sallu" by his fans. Described by the CNN as one of "The World's Biggest Film Star", he has a significant following in Asia and the Indian diaspora worldwide. He is one of the richest actors in the world. He is cited in the media as one of the most popular, influential and commercially successful actors of Hindi cinema.

Khan began his acting career with a supporting role in Biwi Ho To Aisi (1988) and achieved a breakthrough with a leading role in his next release — Sooraj Barjatya's romance Maine Pyar Kiya (1989). Khan went on to establish himself in Bollywood in the 1990s with roles in several top-grossing productions, including the romantic drama Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! (1994), the action thriller Karan Arjun (1995), the comedy Biwi No.1 (1999), and the family drama Hum Saath-Saath Hain (1999). For his role in Karan Johar's romantic drama Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), Khan was awarded the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor. After a brief period of decline in the 2000s, He also starred in the critically acclaimed movie Tere Naam (2003). Khan achieved greater stardom in the 2010s by playing the lead role in several successful action films, including Dabangg (2010), Bodyguard (2011), Ek Tha Tiger (2012), Kick (2014), Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015), and Tiger Zinda Hai (2017). By 2012, ten of the films he had starred in had accumulated gross earnings of over ₹1 billion (US$18.71 million), and he has starred in the highest-grossing Bollywood films of nine separate years which is a Bollywood record. For his contributions to film, the Government of India honored him with the 2008 Rajiv Gandhi Award for Outstanding Achievement in Entertainment.

Salman Khan was ranked 7th in Forbes's first global list of the highest-paid actor in the world with US$33.5 million.

Aamir Khan[edit]

Aamir Khan at an event in 2008. He has been the most internationally successful Indian actor since the late 2000s.[3]

Aamir Khan (born Mohammed Aamir Hussain Khan on 14 March 1965) is one of the biggest and most commercially successful superstars of India.[27] He has a reputation of doing fewer movies but with great attention to detail, including content and quality. Through his successful career in Hindi films, Khan has established himself as one of the most popular and influential actors of Indian cinema.[28][29] In addition to being highly popular in India, he is also highly popular overseas, particularly in China,[30][31] the second largest movie market.[32] He is "arguably the world's biggest movie star" according to Rob Cain,[3] due to his immense popularity in the world's two most populous nations, India and China.[3]

He is the recipient of numerous awards, including four National Film Awards and seven Filmfare Awards, as well as an Academy Award nomination. He was honoured by the Government of India with the Padma Shri in 2003 and the Padma Bhushan in 2010.[33]

Khan first appeared on screen as a child actor in his uncle Nasir Hussain's film Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973), the first Bollywood masala film.[34] His first feature film role came with the experimental film Holi (1984), and he began a full-time acting career with a leading role in the highly successful tragic romance Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988). Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak was a milestone in the history of Hindi cinema, setting the template for Bollywood musical romance films that defined Hindi cinema in the 1990s.[35][36] His performance in the film and in the thriller Raakh (1989) earned him a Special Jury Award at the National Film Award ceremony. He established himself as a leading actor of Hindi cinema in the 1990s by appearing in several commercially successful films, including the romantic drama Dil (1990), the romance Raja Hindustani (1996), for which he won his first Filmfare Award for Best Actor, and the drama Sarfarosh (1999).[37][38] He was also noted for playing against type in the critically acclaimed Canadian-Indian film Earth (1998).

In 2001, Khan started a production company, whose first release, Lagaan, was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and earned him a National Film Award for Best Popular Film and two more Filmfare Awards (Best Actor and Best Film). After a four-year absence from the screen, Khan continued to portray leading roles, most notably in the 2006 box-office hits Fanaa and Rang De Basanti. The following year, he made his directorial debut with Taare Zameen Par, a major success that garnered him the Filmfare Awards for Best Film and Best Director. Khan's greatest commercial successes came with the thriller Ghajini (2008), the comedy-drama 3 Idiots (2009), the adventure film Dhoom 3 (2013), the satire PK (2014) and wrestling-drama Dangal (2016) all of which held records for being the highest-grossing Indian film of all time.[39]

Shah Rukh Khan[edit]

Shah Rukh Khan in 2012. One of the richest actors globally, he is often considered as the biggest movie star in the world.[40]

Shah Rukh Khan (born Shahrukh Khan, 2 November 1965), popularly called as SRK, is sometimes referred to in the media as the "Baadshah of Bollywood", "King Khan", "King of Romance".[41][42][43][44][45][46][47] He has appeared in several successful romantic love stories including Darr, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Dil to Pagal Hai, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Veer Zaara among others. He is also a recipient of 8 Filmfare for 'Best Actor in a leading role awards' (tied with legendary Dilip Kumar) and won a total of 14 Filmfare awards. He has appeared in more than 80 Bollywood films. Described by the Los Angeles Times as perhaps "The World's Biggest Movie Star", Khan has a significant following in Asia and the Indian diaspora worldwide. He is one of the richest actors in the world, with an estimated net worth of US$390 million, and his work in Bollywood has earned him numerous accolades, including 15 Filmfare Awards.

Khan started his career with appearances in several television-series in the late 1980s. He made his Bollywood debut in 1992 with Deewana. Early in his career, Khan was recognised for portraying villainous roles in the films Darr (1993), Baazigar (1993) and Anjaam (1994). He then rose to prominence after starring in a series of romantic films, including Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), Dil To Pagal Hai (1997), Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998) and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... (2001). He earned critical acclaim for his portrayals of an alcoholic in Devdas (2002), a terminally ill patient in Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003), a NASA scientist in Swades (2004), a wanted criminal in Don (2006), a hockey coach in Chak De! India (2007), a man with Asperger syndrome in My Name Is Khan (2010), an Army officer in Jab Tak Hai Jaan (2012), a forty-year old bachelor in Chennai Express (2013), a dancer in the musical heist comedy movie Happy New Year (2014), a deranged fan in the psychological thriller movie Fan (2016) and a gangster in the crime thriller movie Raees (2017).

Many of his films display themes of Indian national identity and connections with diaspora communities, or gender, racial, social and religious differences and grievances. For his contributions to film, the Government of India honored him with the Padma Shri, and the Government of France awarded him both the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and the Légion d'honneur.

Along with the awards, he has been awarded four honorary doctorates.

Other Khans[edit]

Dilip Kumar (Muhammad Yusuf Khan)[edit]

Dilip Kumar (Muhammad Yusuf Khan) in 2010. He was the biggest Indian movie star of the 1950s and 1960s.[48]

Dilip Kumar, whose real name is Muhammad Yusuf Khan,[49] has been retrospectively referred to as the "First Khan" of Bollywood.[48] He debuted in the 1940s, and became the biggest Indian movie star of the 1950s and 1960s.[50][20][48] He is credited with bringing realism to film acting in the Indian subcontinent, and is considered one of the greatest and most influential actors of all time. He has been described as "the ultimate method actor" (natural actor) by Satyajit Ray.[51] Kumar was a pioneer of method acting, predating Hollywood method actors such as Marlon Brando. Kumar inspired future generations of Indian actors, from Amitabh Bachchan and Naseeruddin Shah to Shah Rukh Khan to Nawazuddin Siddiqui.[52] In the 1950s, Dilip Kumar became the first actor to charge 1 lakh (equivalent to 90 lakh or US$110,000 in 2020) per film.[53]

Kumar is known for his roles in films such as the romantic Andaz (1949), the swashbuckling Aan (1952), the dramatic Devdas (1955), the comical Azaad (1955) and Ram Aur Shyam (1967), the historical Mughal-e-Azam (1960), and the social Ganga Jamuna (1961). His biggest commercial success was portraying Prince Salim in K. Asif's big-budget epic historical film Mughal-e-Azam, which was the highest-grossing film in Indian film history for 15 years until it was surpassed by 1975's Sholay.[54] If adjusted for inflation, Mughal-e-Azam is the highest-grossing Indian film for more than six decades, equivalent to over 2000 crores in 2020[22][23]

Saif Ali Khan[edit]

Saif Ali Khan - sometimes referred to as the "Fourth Khan", also a film producer, son of Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, a former captain of the Indian national cricket team, and actress Sharmila Tagore.[55][56] The 2004 romantic comedy Hum Tum proved to be Khan's first success in which he played the sole male lead, earning him the National Film Award for Best Actor, and starring roles in the drama Parineeta and the romantic comedy Salaam Namaste (both 2005) established him as a leading actor in Bollywood.[57] He went on to earn wide critical praise for his portrayal of an apprentice in the 2006 English film Being Cyrus, a character based on William Shakespeare's antagonist Iago in the 2006 crime film Omkara and a terrorist in the 2009 thriller Kurbaan. Khan's highest commercial success came with the 2008 thriller Race and its 2013 sequel, the 2009 romance Love Aaj Kal, and the 2012 romantic comedy Cocktail.

Irrfan Khan[edit]

Irfan Khan in 2015

Irrfan Khan had garnered the National Film Award for Best Actor in the 60th National Film Awards 2012, for his performance in Paan Singh Tomar.[58] Khan had won the 2014 Asian Film Award for Best Actor, the National Film Award for Best Actor, three Filmfare Awards, three International Indian Film Academy Awards, an Independent Spirit Award nomination, and various international honours. He also hosted a television show and commercials. By 2015, he had appeared in more than 50 Indian films in Bollywood, and a number of international films, such as Life of Pi, New York, I Love You, A Mighty Heart, The Amazing Spider-Man, and Jurassic World, with a featured role alongside Tom Hanks in the 2016 adaptation of Dan Brown's novel Inferno. In September 2015, he was appointed as the brand ambassador for "Resurgent Rajasthan", a campaign by the state government of Rajasthan.[59]

Irrfan Khan is sometimes also considered the "fourth Khan", along with Saif Ali Khan.[60] By 2017, Irrfan Khan's films have grossed over US$3.6 billion at the worldwide box office, mostly from his work in international productions.[61] His highest-grossing Hindi films are Hindi Medium (2017) and The Lunchbox (2013). He died of cancer on 29 April 2020 at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Mumbai.


Male actors[edit]

Female actresses[edit]


See also[edit]


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