Some of the first action heroes in Indian Cinema were Dharmendra, Vinod Khanna, Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan and Amitabh Bachchan. Bollywood films like ‘Zanjeer’, ‘Hera Pheri’, ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’, ‘Dharam Veer’, ‘Muqaddar Ka Sikandar’, ‘Don’, ‘Shakti’ and others were popular action movies of their time. The very film that set a cult for the action genre was ‘Sholay’, which is universally considered the most successful mainstream commercial film in the history of Indian Cinema.
With changing times the style of the action films too evolved. The action and thrills along with their technique became more interesting. In the late1980s and 1990s, actors like Sanjay Dutt, Anil Kapoor, Ajay Devgn, Sunny Deol, Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Akshay Kumar, Sunil Shetty and Bobby Deol emerged as the heroes on the silver screen. The films of these heroes dealt with similar subjects. The image of the "angry young man" established by megastar Amitabh Bachchan dominated these films as well. But the fight sequences were visualised and shot in different ways and most of the leading men were trained in martial arts or trained for the action stunts, often performing their own. At this point, martial arts became a part of these action films. Some of the well known movies of this period are ‘Ghayal’, ‘Ajooba’, ‘Hum’, ‘Phool Aur Kaante’, ‘Arjun’, ‘Saudagar’, ‘Sadak’, ‘Baazigar’, ‘Darr’, ‘Kshatriya’, ‘Main Khiladi Tu Anari’, ‘Mohra’, ‘Karan Arjun’, ‘Sangharsh’, ‘Sarfarosh’, ‘Vaastav’, ‘Soldier’, ‘Satya’ and a host of other films. Another trend that evolved in the mid 90s was the glorification of the anti-hero who was shown more powerful to make the hero in turn all the more appealing.
In the 21st century with the advent of technology, the scenario of action films took a turn once again, with the inclusion of more special effects and thrills, presented more interestingly and more visually appealing and convincing, along with the storylines. A new gamut of actors evolved, like Hrithik Roshan, Viveik Oberoi, Zayed Khan, John Abraham and others. Films like ‘Nayak’, ‘Dus’, ‘Main Hoon Na’, ‘Dhoom’, ‘Dhoom:2’, ‘Krrish’, ‘Don - The Chase Begins’, ‘Dasavathaaram’, ‘Sivaji The Boss’, ‘Race’, ‘Krrish 3’, ‘Enthiran’ are noted films of the contemporary time when science fiction and visual effects have both taken shape in Indian Cinema.