The difference between a star and a superstar is the ability of the latter to ensure a good opening for most of his films and deliver big grossers that create benchmarks at the box-office. Over the last 75 years, Bollywood has seen several stars, however, there have been select few stars, who managed to get the superstar tag due to the culmination of record openers and big grossers. And without any doubts, the names which will find a place in top 10 superstars of all time in books of Bollywood history include Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Raj Kapoor, Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan, as these seven names (in any order) have been consistent for a larger part of their career in delivering not just big hits but also record openers. The battle for 8, 9 and 10 spots will be between Rajesh Khanna, Jeetendra, Mithun Chakraborty, Rajendra Kumar, Manoj Kumar, Hrithik Roshan, Akshay Kumar and Ajay Devgn, depending on the success count, box-office impact and longevity. Over the last few days, social media has been buzzing about the superstars who have delivered maximum highest grossers of the year since the time India became Independent i.e. 1947. We at Bollywood Hungama have come up with the list of superstars with maximum highest grossers of the year, which would give a sense of who has dominated box-office like never before in their career.
Hrithik Roshan is the most successful actor who has made his debut in the last 20 years. Well, going a step further, it wouldn’t be wrong to already label him one of the most successful superstars, as in a short career of merely 20 years, he has delivered as many as 4 highest grossing films of the year, standing tall in front of his seniors like Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn, Govinda, Sunny Deol and many more. Though the volume of releases is an issue, he is probably the only actor in the last 25 years who has stood tall in front of the three mighty Khan’s – Salman, Shah Rukh and Aamir – when it comes to delivering the big grossers/blockbusters at regular intervals. His four highest grossers of the year include Kaho Naa…Pyaar Hai, Koi Mil Gaya, Dhoom 2 and War.
At number five is a tie between the HeMan of Bollywood, Dharmendra and the global giant, Shah Rukh Khan with five highest grossing films of the year each. While Dharmendra’s top grosser of the year include Pathhar Ke Phool, Ankhen, Seeta Aur Geeta, Sholay and Hukumat; Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Devdas, Veer Zara and Om Shanti Om are Shah Rukh Khan’s highest grossing film of the year. Both the superstars command terrific fan following, and with some gas still left in Shah Rukh Khan’s tank, he stands a chance to go a notch above Dharmendra in this aspect before the end of his career. While Dharmendra has the record of being the superstar with maximum longevity in his career spanning over 3 decades as male lead, Shah Rukh Khan is undoubtedly the biggest movie star of Indian Cinema in the overseas market. More on this soon, when we speak of worldwide grossers. Raj Kapoor too has five highest grossers of the year in capacity of an actor and 2 highest grossers of the year in capacity of a director. His highest grossers post-Independence include Barsaat, Awaara, Shree 420, Anari and Sangam whereas his highest grossing film of the year as director includes Bobby and Ram Teri Ganga Maili, thereby becoming a rare all-time great to attain this feat in the capacity of an actor as well as a director.
While Amitabh Bachhchan is undoubtedly the biggest superstar of Hindi Cinema, it’s a rather surprising discovery of him having 6 highest grossing films of the year under his kitty, far off from the name topping this list. Nonetheless, what gives the lead to Sr. Bachchan to be an all-time great is the fact that most of his hits have garnered bigger footfalls than highest grossers of the stars from modern time, and that too with films opening at record numbers despite releasing in a short span of time. His six highest grossing films of the year include Roti Kapda Aur Makaan, Sholay, Amar Akbar Anthony, Muqqadar Ka Sikander, Suhaag and Coolie. While these stats put him at number 4, Amitabh Bachchan is an all-time biggest megastar, who commands a terrific success ratio, a huge blockbuster ratio and maximum number of films that have opened to 100% occupancy. In terms of raw fan following, he is undoubtedly the biggest ever Hindi film star followed by Dharmendra and Salman Khan. This isn’t a loosely used statement, but backed by historical data, facts and on-ground hype for the respective stars.
Aamir Khan is the modern day name for quality cinema and it’s not surprising to see as many as seven of his films becoming the highest grosser of the year in a career spanning 32 years. Like Shah Rukh Khan, even Aamir has a lot of gas left in his tank, and stands a chance to jump the ladder further. His highest grossers of the year include Dil, Raja Hindustani, Ghajini, 3 Idiots, PK, Dhoom 3 and Dangal. He is a modern great and is definite to find a spot in names of people who have redefined Hindi Cinema with quality content. We place our bet on Laal Singh Chaddha to emerge the HGOTY of 2021.
The thespian of cinema, Dilip Kumar is remembered for his acting and script selection. On digging through the archives, we discovered that the mega-movie star has delivered 9 highest grossing films of the year and that too with a career of less than 65 Hindi films. His highest grossing films of the year include Jugnu, Shaheed, Aan, Madhumati, Mughal-E-Azam, Ganga Jamuna, Kranti, Vidhata and Karma. His record stood tall for over 30 years, which speaks volumes about his dominance, before one man came and shattered all records in 2017.
Salman Khan is the perfect example of a superstar with raw stardom, whose fan following will stay intact irrespective of the film’s quality. And to have such a loyal fan following in the social media age is in itself an achievement. In his career spanning over 30 years, he has delivered 10 highest grossers of the year, which is a record for any actor in the history of Indian cinema. With some gas still left in the tank, he stands a chance to add a film or two more to the list, making him out of reach for most of the actors in today’s time. It was a surprise for us to discover this, but well, Salman has never really broadcasted his achievements in the media and hence, everything comes across as a surprise. His 10 highest grossers of the year include Maine Pyar Kiya, Saajan, Hum Aapke Hai Koun, Hum Saath Saath Hai, No Entry, Dabangg, Bodyguard, Ek Tha Tiger, Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Tiger Zinda Hai. He stands tall against the stalwarts of Bollywood indeed.
From the current lot of actors, Ajay Devgn got his first highest grosser of the year in 2020 with Tanhaji and Akshay Kumar is yet to open his account when it comes to delivering highest grossing film of the year. Rajesh Khanna on the other hand has 2 highest grossing films of the year in Aaradhana and Haathi Mere Saathi. Sunny Deol too is in the list with 2 highest grossers of the year in Border and Gadar.
Stay tuned for detailed analysis of all the top actors and an in depth account of all HGOTY since 1947 in part 2 of this series.