This list published in NDTV
Dilip Kumar: Described as the ultimate method actor by director Satyajit Ray, Dilip Kumar was the first ever winner of the Filmfare Best Actor award. He also holds the record with the most number of Filmfare Best Actor wins – eight in total – with Shah Rukh Khan. Dilip Kumar appeared in many of Bollywood's landmark films, including Mughal-e-Azam, Naya Daur, Ganga-Jamuna, Madhumati, Devdas and Ram Aur Shyam. He reportedly turned down the role eventually played by actor Omar Sharif in David Lean's Lawrence Of Arabia. Dilip Kumar is frequently cited as their favourite actor by many Bollywood stars, including Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan.
Rajesh Khanna: The term “superstar” was coined for Rajesh Khanna, who inspired fan frenzy and hysteria of unprecedented proportions. Film lore says that the mere sight of him caused women to faint, he was sent letters written in blood, and his driver had to clean lipstick marks off his car everyday. Rajesh Khanna was beloved not just for his hairstyle, distinctive kurta and sideways nod, but also for memorable screen characters like the eponymous Anand, from who he took a cue and left a prerecorded farewell message to be played after his death. Rajesh Khanna died aged 69 on July 18, 2012.
Amitabh Bachchan: Perhaps no other actor has influenced the evolution of mainstream Bollywood as Amitabh Bachchan's Angry Young Man. His many characters have been indelibly etched into Indian consciousness, from the various Vijays in Zanjeer, Deewar and Agneepath, through the Amit Malhotras of Silsila and Kabhi Kabhie, to the laugh-a-minute Anthony Gonsalves in Amar Akbar Anthony. Amitabh Bachchan was also arguable the first actor to bring bromance to Bollywood, teaming with Dharmendra in the classic Sholay and Chupke Chupke, Rajesh Khanna in Anand and Namak Haraam, and – most famously – Shashi Kapoor in films like Deewar, Namak Halaal and Shaan. Now 70, Amitabh Bachchan is still acting, with roles written for him.
Rajinikanth: It's not everyone who can play against type so successfully that they start out as villain and end up as hero. Tamil superstar Rajinikanth did just that and the fact that he became Asia's second highest paid actor after Jackie Chan with 2007's Sivaji is a continuing testament to his charisma. Among one of the handful of South Indian stars to have appeared successfully in Bollywood films like Hum and Chaalbaaz, Rajinikanth has not died on-screen for several years now because producers fear that his character's death would send fans on a rampage.
Pran Sikand: Like Rajinikanth after him, Pran Sikand also switched between playing villain and good guy with relative ease in an industry given to typecasting. Known for his stylish presence on-screen, Pran made bad look good, and was so effective in dark roles that the name Pran fell out of favour with parents of young sons. He appeared in almost every major film in the 1960s and ‘70s, and was often higher-paid than the hero. His portrayal of the tyrannical brother-in-law in Ram Aur Shyam, starring Dilip Kumar, helped make the villain's role as important as the hero's. With Amitabh Bachchan, he formed a hit partnership, resulting in blockbusters like Don, Amar Akbar Anthony and Kaalia. Pran's Zanjeer character, Sher Khan, is among Bollywood's most memorable.
N T Rama Rao: NTR, as he was fondly known, was a giant of Telugu cinema famous for playing mythological characters, including Krishna and Rama. Later in his career, he switched from playing deities to the common man fighting the system. NTR became one of the most successful crossovers from movies to politics. He founded the Telugu Desam Party and served as chief minister of Andhra Pradesh for three terms. He died of a massive heart attack in 1996.
Uttam Kumar: Literature-loving Bengal embraced the movies with abandon, and never more so when Uttam Kumar romanced Suchitra Sen in black-and-white. He ushered in a new Bengali hero – urbane, sophisticated and charming. He dominated Bengali cinema for three decades, originating roles that would also go on to be re-made into hit Bollywood films, like Chupke Chupke starring Dharmendra and Amitabh Bachchan which was a remake of Uttam Kumar's Chhadmabeshi. A veritable one-man industry, Uttam Kumar was the first ever recipient of the National Award for Best Actor, winning the prize for his performances in Anthony Firinghee and Satyajit Ray's Chiriyakhana. He died of a heart attack in 1980 and Kolkata came to a standstill as the funeral procession would it's way to the crematorium, with fans thronging the streets for a last look at their hero.
M G Ramachandran: MGR, an actor-politician like Telugu counterpart NTR, was the heartthrob of Tamil cinema, appearing in a string of blockbuster romance and action films. MGR won the National Award for Rickshawkaran and broke box office records with Ulagam Sutrum Vaalibhan, one of the early films to be shot abroad. MGR founded the AIADMK and served three terms as chief minister of Tamil Nadu. His political career was as colourful as his screen career – he established a long-running rivalry with Karunanidhi, introduced actress J Jayalalithaa to politics and was shot in the ear by actor-politician M R Radha. MGR died of a kidney illness in 1987.
Mohanlal: Like Rajinikanth, Malayalam titan Mohanlal started his tryst with destiny as a villain. 25 films later, he switched to playing the hero and also forged a hit partnership with director Priyadarshan. He has since played a variety of roles ranging from romantic to tragic, comic to dramatic. Mohanlal has made successful forays into Tamil cinema with Iruvar opposite Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, and Bollywood with Ram Gopal Varma's Company. Mohanlal has won three National Awards for Best Actor, including a Special Jury award.
Naseeruddin Shah: A pioneer actor from the parallel cinema movement, Naseeruddin Shah's impact on Indian pop culture has been immense. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, there were almost no art-house films made that did not feature Naseeruddin. Famous for his roles in movies like Masoom, Ijazat, Trikal, Bhavni Bhavai, Mirch Masala, Paar, Junoon, Mandi and Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, he also made inroads into mainstream Bollywood in movies like Hum Paanch, Tridev and Hero Hiralal. Winner of three National Awards for Best Actor, Naseeruddin Shah is still very much sought after in Bollywood, bridging the gap between parallel and mainstream in movies like The Dirty Picture, Sarfarosh and A Wednesday.
Raj Kapoor: The Showman of Bollywood took the Kapoor clan from a travelling theatre group to the first family of the screen. Raj Kapoor was the complete package. He established his own studio, the now legendary R K Films, almost as soon as he hit big time as an actor, and was a force to reckon with as a leading man, a director and a producer. With actress Nargis, he formed a beloved screen partnership, appearing in superhit films like Awaara, Aag, Shree 420 and Barsaat. He created a screen persona modeled on Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp. He also had a successful parallel career as a Svengali of sorts, introducing actresses like Dimple Kapadia. But perhaps his most lasting achievement was the fact that he and his films were adored in the USSR, China and Middle East, creating a diplomatic channel for India.
Raj Kapoor died of complications from asthma in 1988, as he was receiving the Dadasaheb Phalke award from President Venkatraman.
Kamal Haasan: If ever there was a one-man industry, Kamal Haasan is it. Actor, director, screenwriter, producer and choreopgrapher, there is nothing that he can't do. Known for his willingness to experiment with roles and with his own look, Kamal Haasan has played a variety of characters apart from romantic leads. These include a triple role of which one was a dwarf, and a father who cross-dresses as a woman to be near his children. Kamal Haasan was equally successful in Bollywood, starring in hits like Ek Duuje Ke Liye and Sagar as well as many remakes of his own Tamil hits including Sadma and Chachi 420. Among his best known films are Mani Ratnam's Nayagan. Kamal Haasan hold the record for the most number of Best Actor National Awards with four wins.
Balraj Sahni: Film experts often discuss with surprise and wonder the fact that an actor of Balraj Sahni's caliber never received a single award. He was frequently cast as the lead in films that explored a changing social and economic order in independent India. The characters he played were rarely in the typical leading man mould – the famine-hit farmer in Do Bigha Zameen, the eponymous Kabuliwala, the patriarch who loses his family in Waqt. He was also a gifted writer and wrote the screenplay for Guru Dutt's film Baazi, starring Dev Anand. Balraj Sahni's last performance as the stoic Muslim who refuses to migrate to Pakistan during the Partition in M S Sathyu's Garam Hawa has been hailed by critics as one of the most seminal in Indian cinema. Balraj Sahni died of a heart attack the day after he finished dubbing for Garam Hawa. He was just 59.
Utpal Dutt: A tour de force in the modern Indian theatre movement, Utpal Dutt straddled the world of Bengali cinema and Bollywood with ease. He made the character actor respectable in films like in Gol Mal, Rang Birangi and Naram Garam. Satyajit Ray cast him in several movies including Agantuk, Jana Aranya and Hirak Rajar Deshe. In Mrinal Sen's landmark Bhuvan Shome, he played an uncompromising civil servant who takes a holiday that transforms him and his world view. His performance fetched him the National Award. Utpal Dutt died in 1993.
Chiranjeevi: In keeping with the tradition of Rajinikanth and Mohanlal, Chiranjeevi started out as an anti-hero. His stylized performances gradually earned him not just the lead roles but also superstardom. By the mid-Eighties, Chiranjeevi's fan following was legion. He churned out blockbuster after blockbuster, many of them action movies. He was hailed as the man who put act into action. He also appeared in the Bollywood films Pratibandh and Aaj Ka Goonda Raj. Chiranjeevi forged a political career with his own party Praja Rajyam which he later merged with the Congress.
Rajkumar: Kannada star Dr Rajkumar began acting at the age of eight and starred in over 220 films. Winner of two National Film awards for Best Actor, his popularity was unmatched while he was active in movies. Unlike most other South Indian stars, he never appeared in films in any other language but Kannada, though some of him movie were dubbed into Telugu. Also unlike other actors, he turned down many offers of a political career. However, he was able to influence the political climate of his time without actually being involved in politics himself, and is credited with promoting and protecting the Kannada language. Dr Rajkumar was also known as a singer of talent. At 72, he was kidnapped by smuggler Veerappan, throwing the state government into a 108-day crisis. He was finally released unharmed. He died of a heart attack in 2006.
Sivaji Ganesan: In the Tamil lexicon, Sivaji Ganesan is legendary. The first ever Indian star to win a Best Actor award at an international film festival, Sivaji Ganesan is cited by many South Indian actors as their biggest influence. He played a variety of roles, from villain to hero, and was beloved for his portrayal of mythological characters. Many of his films were remade in other languages. Navarathiri, in which he played nine different roles, was remade in Bollywood as Naya Din Nayi Raat starring Sanjeev Kumar. He played a supporting character in Dharti, starring Rajendra Kumar, which was a remake of his own film Sivandha Mann. Sivaji Ganesan also had a surprisingly unsuccessful stint in politics, serving with the Congress and Janata Dal. He died in 2001 after having suffered from heart illness for years.
Mammootty: Three-time National Award winner Mammootty is a matinee idol in Kerala, star of hit films like Athirathram and Oru CBI Diary Kurippu. A frequent collaborator of director Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Mammootty has also appeared in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi films. He also starred in the English-language biopic Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar. With Mohanlal, Mammootty makes up the top echelon of Malayalam movies. He is also beloved in Kerala for his involvement in philanthropic projects.
Shah Rukh Khan: When young SRK, fresh from the success of TV's Fauji and Circus, burst upon Bollywood, he could have taken the tried and tested route of heartthrob roles in masala movies. He didn't. Between playing the loverboy in first film Deewana and 16th film Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, SRK played a vengeful murder in Baazigar, a psychotic stalker in Darr, the younger lover of a mysterious older woman in Maya Memsaab and the cheerful loser who doesn't get the girl in Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa. Since then, SRK has punctuated his blockbuster roles in love stories and family dramas with portrayals of a weak-willed drunkard in Devdas, an NRI returning to an Indian village in Swades, a hockey coach in Chak De! India and an autistic Muslim man in My Name Is Khan.
Aamir Khan: The fresh-faced teen idol of Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak proved he was not going to be an average superstar with his second film, the gritty but box-office bomb Raakh. Known for his willingness to experiment and his dedication to detail, Aamir has played against type his whole life, graduating from chocolate boy roles in Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander and Hum Hai Rahi Pyar Ke to dramatic successes in Sarfarosh, Lagaan, Dil Chahta Hai and Rang De Basanti. He made an acclaimed debut as director with Taare Zameen Par, starred in Bollywood's top-grossing film 3 Idiots, and hosted TV show Satyamev Jayate which had far-reaching social impact including promises from state governments to set up fast track courts to resolve female foeticide cases. Just named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People, Aamir has proved over and over again that following convention is not what this Khan does. His next role will be as villain in Dhoom: 3.