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Shah Rukh Khan

Shah Rukh Khan is one of the biggest stars of Bollywood today. But 25 years ago, he came from humble beginnings and worked his way to the top. Delhi-boy who quit his Masters Degree in Mass Communication to follow his acting dream – he left for Mumbai with a meager 1500 rupees and started from scratch. And decades later, SRK has now shorn off his middle-class background and become a superstar. 

Amitabh Bachchan

Amitabh Bachcha has a mammoth stature in Bollywood – to be part of the Bachchan family is to be royalty almost. But the actor fought his way to being one of the biggest superstars in the film industry for well over a couple of decades. Big B came from Allahabad to Mumbai, where he had to pass many nights on the benches of Marine Drive because he did not have a house or home. 

Akshay Kumar 

He is a big ‘Khiladi’ today – with his award-winning performances and superstar aura. Not very long ago, he was a waiter and dishwasher in Bangkok. Even when he became a chef, he did not get more than 1500 rupees and slept on the kitchen floor at night. With his martial arts training, he came back to India and got into the glamour industry only because it paid more.

Dilip Kumar  

In the late 1930s, his family of 12 members relocated to Mumbai. Around 1940, Dilip Kumar left home for Pune where he started his career as a canteen owner and a dry fruit supplier. In 1943, actressDevika Rani, who owned Bombay Talkies spotted Dilip Kumar in Aundh military canteens Pune, and cast him with a lead role in the film Jwar Bhata (1944), which marked Dilip Kumar's entry into the Hindi film industry. Hindi author Bhagwati Charan Varma gave him the screen name Dilip Kumar. It is believed that Dilip Kumar could speak a number of languages, including English, Hindi, Urdu, Hindko, and Pashto.

Johnny Walker

Actor-comedian Badruddin Jamaluddin Kazi began his career under the stage-name Johnny Walker because he impressed Guru Dutt with his screen test where he acted as a drunk. Before that, he was a bus conductor in Mumbai where he used to entertain his passengers with antics and thus caught the eye of Balraj Sahni who took him to meet Dutt.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui 

Nawazuddin grew up in a famer’s family with eight siblings in Uttar Pradesh. Before attaining the fame and success he now has, the dark-skinned actor had to make his living working as a chemist and then as a watchman. That was when he developed an interest in theatre, and went to The National School of Drama – starting off his Bollywood career with a small role in ‘Sarfarosh’. 

Boman Irani 

Boman Irani is a consummate performer – but before he cracked his away into the industry, he used to work as a waiter and a room service staff in the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. The Parsi actor also used to help his mother run their ancestral bakery shop. Only after that did he take to photography and theatre and shot to fame with ‘Munna Bhai M.B.B.S.’

Irfan Khan

He started his career with TV series Bharat Ek Khoj in 1988, where he starred in two episodes. His first film was Mira Nair's film Salaam Bombay which didn't get him any eyeballs and he went on to act in low budget films like Ek Doctor ki Maut His work was noticed in Asif Kapadia's film The Warrior. Then came Tigmanshu Dhulia's Haasil where mainstream cinema cashed in on his talent. After this, Vishal Bhardwaj's Maqbool changed his fortunes and he is now among the few Indian actors to star in Hollywood productions. His work in films such as The Namesake, The Mighty Heart, Slumdog Millionaire and Life of Pi has been widely appreciated. He even won the national award for Paan Singh Tomar, and he recently turned producer with The Lunchbox.

Shahid Kapoor

He was part of the team of background dancers in the films, Dil Toh Pagal Hiai and Taal. Upon being noticed by Ramesh Taurani, the producer launched him in Ishq Vishk, a film under his banner. Today,he has many commercial projects to his credit.


He began his career as a junior artiste; he started out by punching attendance cards on the sets of the 1959 film Navrang when he was paid Rs 100 a month. He got noticed with the film Shehra and was then launched by V Shantaram in the 1964 film, Geet Gaaya Patharon Ne.

Mithun Chakraborty 

He started his career as a junior artiste and was mentored by Mahesh Kaul in the early '70s. Hrishikesh Mukherjee initially offered him a role in one of his films but his scenes were eventually edited out. The film Do Anjane changed the course for him and his turning point was the 1977 film Mrigaya that won him the National Award. 

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