We’ve all grown up watching Bollywood movies, idolizing our movie stars and believing that this industry is a parallel universe, light years away from the common man, like most children in India, kids from film families too end up taking up the profession of their parents. People think that you can never succeed in Bollywood without a hand to push you forward. It’s a tough place to survive and without any perfect guidance or a “Godfather” more precisely you won’t be able to last long there.
Nevertheless, there are quite a few celebrities who have made it big and on their own. Sheer hard work and perseverance have helped them write their success stories.
Let’s see which celebrities have climbed the ladder of success without any Godfather.
1) Shah Rukh Khan
The Delhi born-and-bred actor, who trained under a city theatre group, came to Mumbai in the late eighties. He had travelled without a ticket back then. He came with nothing to lose in Bollywood industry. His life changed one day when he caught the eyes of producer Vivek Vaswani while eating roadside biryani in Bandra. Next day Vivek took him to GP Sippy and that day he signed 5 films together. Khan also worked in TV shows. Shah Rukh made his Bollywood debut with “Deewana” in 1992. Within the next three years, he gave Bollywood one of its most iconic films “Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge” and soon earned the title of King Khan.
2) Priyanka Chopra
Priyanka Chopra won her first title as Miss World at the young age of 18. After that, she faced a lot of troubles leading her to almost quitting her dream. But at the same time, she landed herself a role in the film ‘Andaaz’ which turned out to be a super hit film. One of the most successful Bollywood actresses, Priyanka Chopra has now taken the world by storm and is on a roll. Now, Actress is making herself known in Hollywood as well. Hard work does pay off!
3) Akshay Kumar
The Khiladi Kumar is said to be a waiter before he came to Bollywood. Akshay Kumar made his debut in Bollywood with a small role in Mahesh Bhatt’s “Aaj” (1987). The star was seen in a lead in the film ‘Saugandh’ in the year 1991 and after that, he signed ‘Khiladi’ which was a super hit film and is his identity as well. He is one of the finest and down to earth actors Bollywood has ever seen.
4) Kangana Ranaut
Kangana Ranaut was only 16 when she decided that she will take the big step towards her choice of career. She came to Delhi and got herself enrolled in a modelling agency. That agency, later on, sent her to Mumbai so that she can give auditions and try her luck in films. Her agent took her to Mahesh Bhatt’s office where she got rejected because she looked too young but later on Anurag Basu gave her an impactful role in ‘Gangster’. She has done projects like Queen, Tanu Weds Manu, Rangoon,etc.She is also one of the highest-paid actresses in the industry today.
5) Deepika Padukone
The eye candy of Bollywood was very young when she came to Mumbai in search of her dreams. That’s when she landed herself in some advertisement assignments. Later on, she was starred in Himesh Reshammiya’s music video. That’s when she caught the eyes of Farah Khan and got herself the lead role in ‘Om Shanti Om’. In 2008, Maybelline made her its new international cover face. Subsequently, she won the ‘Model of the Year’ at the Kingfisher Fashion Awards.
6) Aishwarya Rai Bachchan
Aishwarya Rai dropped out of college in the early nineties to pursue a career in modeling. She won the Miss World title in 1994.Three years later, the green-eyed beauty made her acting debut with the Tamil film “Iruvar”. The same year she starred in her first Bollywood film “Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya” opposite Bobby Deol.
7) Katrina Kaif
Katrina Kaif started her modelling career at the age of 14. It was during these days the actress was discovered by London-based filmmaker Kaizad Gustad, who offered her a role in his film. Katrina made her Bollywood debut in 2003 with “Boom”. Later, was starred in several superhit movies like Singh Is Kinng, Bharat, Ek Tha Tiger, Tiger Zinda Hai and many more.
8) Madhuri Dixit
Born and raised in Bombay, Dixit initially aspired to study microbiology, but discontinued her studies when she received offers for film roles and made her acting debut in 1984 with a leading role in the drama Abodh. After a few commercially failed films, she had her breakthrough with the action romance Tezaab (1988). She won four Best Actress awards at the Filmfare Awards for her performances in them. Following a sabbatical from acting in 2002, Dixit starred in the musical Aaja Nachle (2007), and worked intermittently in the next decade, gaining appreciation for her starring roles in the black comedy Dedh Ishqiya (2014) and the Marathi comedy drama Bucket List (2018). Her highest-grossing release came with the adventure comedy Total Dhamaal (2019)
9) Vidya Balan
Vidya Balan is in the industry because of pure talent. She worked in almost 90 ads before she was cast in one of Euphoria’s music video. Vidya first faced the camera in a popular TV show “Hum Paanch” in 1995. Later, she got ‘Parineeta’opposite Saif Ali Khan which made her what she is today. The face of woman-centric films in India today, Vidya is among the most sought-after Bollywood actresses.
10) Anushka Sharma
Anushka once said in an interview that she wanted to make it big in the modelling world and had no aspiration for films. She was picked by fashion designer Wendell Rodricks as a model for Lakme Fashion Week in 2007. Since then, there has been no looking back for this young, bright ‘actress’. Anushka made her acting debut in Yash Raj Films’ “Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi” opposite Shah Rukh Khan in 2008.
11) Nawazuddin Siddiqui
An actor well-known for his acting skills, he came to Mumbai in 2004, and it was one of his bad times as he was unable to even pay rent. There was a time in the early 2000s when he was mostly out of work and shared a flat with four others. He did many small roles but did not become famous. Nawazuddin made his Bollywood debut in 1999, with a small role in the Aamir Khan-starrer “Sarfarosh”. He did several small roles, but was largely undiscovered but soon he was recognizable and famous by audiences when the film “Gangs Of Waseypur” came. This film was a milestone in his career. With his films having traveled around the world today — from the local festivals to the Cannes — he is a recognized face in India and globally.
12) John Abraham
The fitness freak and non-controversial actor, John Abraham, started off by doing modeling assignments. John Abraham began his showbiz career with a music video “Surma” by Jazzy B. His big break came with winning a popular Indian modeling contest in 1999. He also appeared in many commercials and music videos for singers including Pankaj Udhas, Hans Raj Hans, etc. He made his acting debut in “Jism” in 2003.
13) Sushant Singh Rajput
Sushant was born in Patna, Bihar where his father worked as a government official. He came to Mumbai and got himself a role in Ekta Kapoor’s daily soap ‘Pavitra Rishta. He worked in TV for years before he entered Bollywood with Abhishek Kapoor’s “Kai Po Che!” (2013) and this film won him several debut awards that year. The actor followed it up with films like “Shuddh Desi Romance”, “PK” and “Detective Byomkesh Bakshy”, all of which have won him appreciation.
14) Jacqueline Fernandez
Jacqueline Fernandez won the Miss Universe Sri Lanka pageant in 2006. While on a modeling assignment in India three years later, she auditioned for a role in Sujoy Ghosh’s film “Aladin”. That marked her entry in Bollywood. In a span of seven years, she has featured in more than 15 films. Four films are currently in production. Fernandez had her breakthrough role with the psychological thriller Murder 2 (2011), her first commercial success. This was followed by glamorous roles in the commercially successful ensemble-comedy Housefull 2 (2012) and the action thriller Race 2 (2013), which garnered her an IIFA Award for Best Supporting Actress nomination. Fernandez went on to star in the top-grossing action film Kick (2014) and the comedies Housefull 3 (2016) and Judwaa 2 (2017).
15) Sunny Leone
Sunny Leone was born in Sarnia, Ontario to Sikh Punjabi parents. In 2011, she participated in the Indian reality show “Bigg Boss”. Her successful stint in the TV show brought along a slew of acting offers from Bollywood. She also hosted several shows like MTV Spiltsvilla. She made her debut with director Mahesh Bhatt’s “Jism 2” (2012).
16) Ayushmann Khurrana
Khurrana won the second season of reality television show MTV Roadies in 2004 and ventured into an anchoring career. He made his film debut in 2012 with the romantic comedy Vicky Donor, in which his performance as a sperm donor earned him the Filmfare Award for Best Male Debut. Following a brief setback, he starred in the commercially and critically successful romance Dum Laga Ke Haisha (2015). Khurrana went on to establish himself with the comedies Bareilly Ki Barfi (2017), Shubh Mangal Saavdhan (2017), Badhaai Ho (2018), Dream Girl (2019), and Bala (2019); the thriller Andhadhun (2018); and the crime drama Article 15 (2019). Khurrana’s performances as a blind pianist in Andhadhun and an honest cop in Article 15 won him two consecutive Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor, and he also won the National Film Award for Best Actor.
17) Irrfan Khan
Irrfan Khan is a well-known actor. He has done many Hollywood movies too, but before coming into films, he did not have any links in the Bollywood Industry. He struggled a lot but did not give up and worked in many tv serials before coming into films. He is a self-made celebrity. He has done movies like Thank you, Pan Singh Tomar, Madari, Hindi Medium,etc.
18) Ranveer Singh
The most handsome, hot and versatile actor of B-town Ranveer Singh is one of those who has struggled before coming into films and then landed in Bollywood industry with their hard work and talent. Ranveer worked as a copywriter before coming into movies and also gave auditions for commercials, music videos, etc. till he got the project ‘Band Baaja Baraat’. After his first movie, Ranveer did not stop and gave hit films back to back and today is on the top of the Bollywood Industry. He did several movies like Padmaavat, Gully Boy, Bajirao Mastani, Goliyon Ki Raasleela: Ramleela, Simmba and many more.
The most talked about actress had started her career as a model and had also been famous for her incredible work in South Cinema. Coming from a regular family in New Delhi, popularity in Bollywood came over a period of time to her since her debut with Chashme Baddoor. Her breakthrough moment, however, was a small role as an agent in Neeraj Pandey’s Baby which suddenly made Bollywood take notice of her. The 2016 mega-hit PINK produced by Sujoy Ghosh escalated Taapsee and since then there’s been no looking back for this actress delivering several hits including Naam Shabana and Judwaa 2 in 2017.
20) Rajkummar Rao:
Rajkummar is one of the most talented actors of Bollywood. His journey of Bollywood started with his debut in an experimental anthology ‘Love, Sex Aur Dhoka’ as Adarsh which was released in 2010. The movie was directed by Dibakar Banerjee and since then Rao hasn’t stopped being seen in Bollywood films. Later, he worked in many movies like Ragini MMS, Gangs of Wasseypur, Talaash, Kai Po Che!,Stree etc. However, it was in 2017 that things took a turn for the better, the talented actor finally was getting the worth of his talent and being recognized by the masses. She did films and incredible performances like Bareily Ki Barfi, the Indian Oscar selection Newton and others. The actors recently even were honored by Rising Asia Talent Award by Variety Magazine.
21) Ali Fazal:
Ali is one of the most famous Indian actors currently in International had entered Bollywood giving out special appearance in one of the most unforgettable movies 3 Idiots which was directed by Rajkumar Hirani. With time, Ali Fazal worked in many recognized movies like Happy Bhaag Jaayegi, Fukrey, etc. Ali has now been juggling between Hollywood and Bollywood after his leading debut in Hollywood with ‘Victoria and Abdul’ where he featured opposite Dame Judi Dench. His Hollywood debut certainly will be one of the biggest roles an Indian actor has done so far in the west.
22) Bhumi Pednekar:
Bhumi is one of the most hardworking actresses we have seen in Bollywood. She has been working as assisting Casting Director in Yash Raj films for several years. After that, she tried her talent in Bollywood with her first movie Dum Laga Ke Haisha directed by Sharat Katariya along with Ayushmann Khurrana and earned recognition. Later, she got roles in many movies like Toilet: Ek Prem Katha and Shubh Mangal Savdhaan, Pati Patni aur Voh and many more.