Dilip Kumar or Yusuf Khan is one of the finest actors in India. His spontaneity and forte at emoting made him one of the most sought after stars in Bollywood. His first film was Jwar Bhata that released in the year 1944. Then he went onto deliver some of the greatest hits of all times: Andaaz, Aan, Devdas, Azaad, Naya Daur, Madhumati, Mughal-E-Azam, Ganga Jamuna, Dil Diya Dard Liya, Ram Aur Shyam, Gopi, Saudagar and several others. This versatile actor was presented the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1994. He is married to the gorgeous Saira Banu.
Another renowned actor is Ashok Kumar. Referred to as Dadamuni he is one of the most respected actors in the tinsel town. He was part of films like Mahal, Savitri, Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, Howrah Bridge, Kismet, Achhyut Kanya, Parineeta, Bahu Begum, Pakeezah and others. He received his first Filmfare Award for Ashirwaad in 1970. He is the recipient of a lot of awards:
Dev Anand is an indispensable part of Hindi films. In his heyday he was considered the ultimate urban gentleman. He started his career with Hum Ek Hain in 1946. Even today he is referred to as the evergreen hero because of his never-say-die attitude.
The female actors were equally talented. With gorgeous looks and superb talent they won over the hearts of millions. Devika Rani was one of the first female actors of Bollywood. She will always be remembered as the first lady of the silver screen. In her career span she has acted in films such as Achhut Kanya, Karma and others.
Raj Kapoor was the biggest entertainer of the Hindi film industry and with his internationally acclaimed acting talent created a new era in Indian cinema, ideally known as the Raj Kapoor Era.
Besides her there was Meena Kumari who set high standards for acting for her predecessors. She is the classic beauty of Bollywood who had mesmerized audience for years with her powerhouse performances. She bagged the Best Actress Award in 1954 for Baiju Bawra. She starred in this film with Bharat Bhushan. The songs of this film were a hit then and are a part of the timeless classics. The following year she again walked away with the same award for her performance in Parineeta and later for Aarti in 1962 and Kaajal in 1965.
Meena Kumari is, probably, best remembered for Pakeezah. The role of a Lucknow courtesan immortalized her as a legend. The star cast of the film also included Ashok Kumar and Rajkumar.
The era of 1950s to 60s saw the rise of some of the most talented female actors who are unrivalled till date. The list of such actresses includes names like Bina Rai, Kamini Kaushal, Nargis, Nutan, Vyjayantimala, Waheeda Rehman and others. Nargis teamed up with Raj Kapoor to deliver some of the biggest commercial hits of that era:
Waheeda Rehman won the hearts of her audience with the role in Pyaasa. Guru Dutt gave her an opportunity and she did not disappoint him at all. In the same year (1956) another film was also released with Pyaasa-CID. It starred Dev Anand. She went to deliver several hits with Dev Anand. One of the most outstanding amongst them was Guide, Solva Saal, Kalabazar, Prem Pujari and others. But some of her career best roles were etched out by Guru Dutt. Films such as Kaagaz Ke Phool, Chaudhavin ka Chaand and Saheb, Biwi aur Ghulam are unforgettable.
In the 1970-80 Jaya Bachchan, Rekha, Rakhee, Hema Malini and others were the rulers in Bollywood.
The 1970s saw the rise of actors like Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Sanjeev Kumar, Vinod Mehra, Vinod Khanna, Mithun Chakraborty and others.
Rajesh Khanna was the superstar of Bollywood. It was for this legendary actor that the word superstar was first used. This was the beginning of the star system in Indian cinema. He had tremendous fan following and created a niche for himself with films like Aradhana, Amar Prem, Anand, Kati Patang, Namak Haram, Safar, Daag, Bawarchi, Aavishkar and several others.
Sanjeev Kumar did some of the most unusual roles and made it big in the film industry. He was not the conventional looking hero of Bollywood yet his histrionics made him one of the most well known heroes. He acted in films like Koshish, Manchali, Aandhi, Seeta aur Geeta, Anamika and several others.
Amitabh Bachchan needs no introduction in Bollywood. He is the man who established the 'angry young man image.' With an envious height and thunderous voice he rules the Hindi film industry even today. Some of his hit films are Sholay, Abhimaan, Zanjeer, Deewar, Amar Akbar Anthony, Don, Mr. Natwarlal, Silsila, Kabhie Kabhie and others. His recent films are Black, Aks, Cheeni Kum, Sarkar, Nishabd, Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham and others.
After Amitabh it is Shah Rukh Khan who has been ruling Bollywood. He started off his career with Deewana where he played the second lead. Then came Aziz Mirza'a Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman and then there was no looking back. Not only in Bollywood but Khan has fans all over the world. After Dilip Kumar he is the only star who has won Filmfare Award 7 times.
Other male actors of the 21st century are Sunjay Dutt, Hrithik Roshan, Saif Ali Khan, Shahid Kapur, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgan, Aamir Khan, Govinda, Salman Khan, Riteish Deshmukh, Anil Kapoor, Abhishek Bachchan, Irfaan Khan, Akshaye Khanna, John Abraham and others.
Madhuri Dixit is one of the leading female actors in India. Her beauty, grace and talent made her the queen of all hearts. She started her career with Abodh and went on to become highest paid female actor in India.
The later heroines are Kajol, Rani Mukherji, Katrina Kaif, Aishwarya Rai, Karishma Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor, Juhi Chawla, Konkona Sen Sharma, Ayesha Takia and the list goes on.