Salman Khan, Aamir Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Arjun Kapoor: 35 Smashing Bollywood debuts!

Some Bollywood actors and directors make a dashing entry with their first film and vanish thereafter, while some continue to do good work for 10, 20, 30, 40 years. Case in point – Salman Khan, Shahrukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra, Arjun Kapoor, Parineeti Chopra, Govinda, Farah Khan, Karan Johar…

Recently Vinil Mathew has made a decent debut with Hasee Toh Phasee, although it’s not a blockbuster. We don’t know how long he will last. But we decided to take a look at some of the smashing debuts in Bollywood, by actors and directors. Here’s our list of some such celebs:

1. Aamir Khan – Actor (Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak) / Director (Taare Zameen Par):


Although he had appeared as a child actor in his uncle Nasir Husain’s now classic Yaadon Ki Baaraat in 1973, the chocolate boy made his real debut in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988) as a lead actor. And what a debut he made, winning millions of female fans and a Filmfare Award! Carving a niche for himself as an actor over the years, it was no surprise when Aamir Khan made a convincing directorial debut with Taare Zameen Par in 2007.

2. Salman Khan – Actor – Debut as Leading Man (Maine Pyar Kiya):

Salman Khan in Maine Pyar Kiya

Salman debuted as supporting actor in Biwi Ho Toh Aisi (1988). But his truly smashing debut as leading man happened a year later with Sooraj Barjatya’s Maine Pyar Kiya. A new dashing star was born and it was a treat for female fans with both Salman and Aamir on the drool list.

3. Shahrukh Khan – Actor (Deewana – Supporting Role):

Shahrukh Khan and Divya Bharti in Deewana

The actor was a popular TV star with Fauji and Circus, so he was, of course, noticed in his debut Deewana (1992) – even though it was a second-lead role. He later appeared in Chamatkaar but could impress only later – in Baazigar and Darr.

4. Karan Johar – Director (Kuch Kuch Hota Hai):

Karan Johar, Shahrukh Khan and Kajol

Karan was an assistant director to his friend and mentor Aditya Chopra on Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. He made an ‘inspired’ debut as director with Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998) with Shahrukh Khan, Kajol and Rani Mukerji in the lead. The film was a mix of Archie Comics and Bollywood humour and emotions. It was a superhit.

5. Hrithik Roshan – Actor (Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai):

Hrithik Roshan in Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai

A smashing debut after a long time – after Salman Khan’s, we think. Hrithik’s dancing, looks, smile, physique, dressing style – everything was a craze overnight. Hrithik gave superstar Shahrukh Khan a run for his money. SRK’s film Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani – released the same time in 2000 – was a flop. Audiences lapped up Hrithik in a double role in Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai.

6. Ranveer Singh – Actor (Band Baaja Baaraat):

Ranveer Singh in Band Baaja Baaraat

A charming boy-next-door of a character, Ranveer Singh touched the role and turned it into gold. He is now one of the biggest stars of Bollywood.

7. Deepika Padukone – Actor (Om Shanti Om):

 Deepika Padukone and Shahrukh Khan in Om Shanti Om

Before this film with Shahrukh Khan, Deepika was known more as badminton champ Prakash Padukone’s daughter who was a Kingfisher model. But when we saw her in Om Shanti Om, we knew Deepika was perfect for this Farah Khan film. And for Bollywood.

8. Anushka Sharma – Actor (Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi):

Anushka Sharma in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi

Not for nothing was Shahrukh Khan charmed by this lady in the film. Spunky Anushka Sharma is not just girl-next-door pretty but has good acting skills, too. She can carry a film on her firm shoulders.

9. Ameesha Patel – Actor (Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai):

 Ameesha Patel and Hrithik Roshan in Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai

Ameesha didn’t have to really exercise her acting skills in the film, but she was good for the ‘lost pretty girl’ part opposite the two Hrithik Roshans. The Economics gold medallist went on to star in another hit film, Zee TV’s Gadar: Ek Prem Katha.

10. John Mathew Matthan – Director (Sarfarosh):

Aamir Khan and Jonh Matthew Matthan Sarafarosh
Director’s Photo: Planet Bollywood

The Gandhi assistant director and ad filmmaker approached Aamir Khan to make Sarfarosh and the actor agreed. The rest is history. Sarfarosh came out in 1999 and is one of the best patriotic thrillers in India to this date.

11. Aditya Chopra – Director (Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge):

 Aditya Chopra, Director of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge

The late Yash Chopra’s elder son made a quiet directorial debut with this Shahrukh Khan-Kajol cult love story. Believe it or not, the film is still running in a theatre in Mumbai. Adi is currently Chairman, Yash Raj Films, and continues to churn out good films as director-producer.

12. Farah Khan – Director (Main Hoon Naa):

Farah Khan and Shahrukh Khan

The popular choreographer of Bollywood turned to her fave star and friend Shahrukh Khan when she wanted to make a film. She chose a mish-mash of all masala Bollywood films and even a Hollywood one to create thriller-cum-drama Main Hoon Naa in 2004.

13. Shahid Kapoor – Actor (Ishq Vishk):

Shahid Kapoor in Ishq Vishk

The lad made his debut in a Pepsi ad with Shahrukh Khan, Kajol and Rani Mukerji in his teens! He was also seen as Shiamak Davar’s background dancer in Aishwarya Rai Bachchan starrer Taal (1999). It was no surprise when Shahid made a dashing debut in Ken Ghosh’s Ishq Vishk (2003). Shahid received the Filmfare Best Male Debut Award.

14. Sooraj Barjatya – Director (Maine Pyar Kiya):

Salman Khan with Sooraj Barjatya

The Rajshri scion impressed everyone with his debut Maine Pyar Kiya, creating a cult love story and a million dollar star in Salman Khan. He also gave Marathi star Laxmikant Berde his Hindi break in the film. Barjatya delivered another blockbuster in Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! a few years later.

15. Amrita Rao – Actor (Ishq Vishk):

Amrita Rao in Ishq Vishk

Shahid Kapoor’s heroine in the film didn’t go unnoticed either. Model Amrita Rao had arrived as one of the promising female actors of B-town. It’s another thing that the girl has had many ups and downs in her career.

16. Juhi Chawla – Actor (Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak – as Leading Lady):

Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak

Miss India 1984 Juhi Chawla debuted as a supporting female lead in Sultanat (1986), but it was Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988) that let her shine as an actor. She took home the Filmfare Best New Face Award and won several awards for her later films. Although in her forties now, she continues to act and will be seen in Gulaab Gang and Hollywood film The Hundred-Foot Journey.

17. Amitabh Bachchan – Actor (Saat Hindustani (Supporting Actor) / Zanjeer (Leading Man):

Amitabh Bachchan in Saat Hindustani and Zanjeer

India’s most-loved Mahanayak made a mark in his first film itself – as a convincing supporting actor in Khwaja Ahmad Abbas’ patriotic film Saat Hindustani (1969). He won the National Film Award for Best Newcomer. He shone in Anand and Bombay to Goa later. Bachchan’s debut as leading man in Zanjeer (1973) silenced his critics with a thunder – till date.

18. Govinda – Actor (Ilzam):

Govinda and Neelam in Ilzam

The 1986 actor was a hit with its songs and its fresh new pair of Govinda and Neelam. Govinda had a hugely successful career in his prime – excelling in both comedy and drama.

19. Rajesh Khanna – Actor (Aakhri Khat):

Rajesh Khanna and Babita in Aakhri Khat

Known as India’s first real superstar, Rajesh Khanna debuted with Aakhri Khat (1966). The film was not only a hit; it was sent to the Oscars in the Best Foreign Language Film category in 1967. Khanna delivered many more superhits thereafter.

20. Imran Khan – Actor (Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na):

 Imran Khan in Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na

Just like his uncle Aamir Khan, Imran Khan made a chocolate boy debut in Abbas Tyrewala’s Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na. He is a romcom star now, although he has starred in the offbeat Delhi Belly and Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola as well.

21. Madhubala – Child Actor (Basant) and Leading Lady (Neel Kamal):

Madhubala in Neel Kamal and Basant

The mesmerising smile, the charisma, the beauty – is there anybody who does not like Madhubala? A favourite of most people, the late actor had made her debut in Basant (1942) as a child actor, which was a hit at the box office. Her big break as a lead actor did average business though. It was in Neel Kamal opposite Raj Kapoor when she was only 14. Later, she starred in notable films with Dilip Kumar, Bharat Bhushan and also singer-actor Kishore Kumar – her future husband.

22. Sanjay Dutt – Actor (Rocky):

Sanjay Dutt in Rocky

Bollywood’s bad boy debuted with Rocky, a film produced and directed by his father, actor Sunil Dutt. The film was a semi-hit, but Sanjay was noticed and appreciated. This was in 1981. The actor’s life has been topsy-turvy with many controversies and three marriages. But acting wise, he shines in tailormade roles.

23. Kumar Gaurav – Actor (Love Story):

Kumar Gaurav in Love Story

In 1981 itself, Sanjay’s best friend and future brother-in-law – Kumar Gaurav – made a rocking entry in filmdom with Love Story. But Kumar, actor Rajendra Kumar’s son, was a one-film wonder and could not make a mark later. His debut is still remembered though.

24. Bhagyashree – Actor (Maine Pyar Kiya):

Bhagyashree in Maine Pyar Kiya with Salman Khan

Bhagyashree sparkled in Maine Pyar Kiya and made a great pair with Salman Khan. But she got married and vanished from the Bollywood scene, only to come back in a film with her husband Himalaya. But the sparkle of her debut was gone. Now she is a popular Bhojpuri actor.

25. Karisma Kapoor – Actor (Prem Qaidi):

Karisma Kapoor in Prem Qaidi

Again a semi-hit, this 1991 film made everyone notice Randhir Kapoor’s teenage daughter Karisma Kapoor – who looked just like him and was desperate to act in Bollywood.

26. Neelam – Actor (Ilzam):

Neelam in Ilzam

The ‘foreign-returned’ Neelam was an instant hit in India with her cute looks and her short skirts. Apart from Ilzam, another film of hers with Govinda was a hit in 1986 – called Love 86. She went on to make a successful pair with Govinda. She is happily married now and has turned jewellery designer.

27. Priyanka Chopra – Actor (Andaaz):

Priyanka Chopra in Andaaz

This film was PeeCee’s second release after The Hero, but it earned her the Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut. Today the girl is an actor-singer on top of the Bollywood race.

28. Bipasha Basu – Actor (Ajnabee):

Bipasha Basu in Ajnabee

No, her debut film was not Raaz or Jism. It was Ajnabee (2001). Bips played a negative role in this Abbas Mustan thriller. She won the Filmfare Best Female Debut Award for it.

29. Farhan Akhtar – Director (Dil Chahta Hai) and Actor-Singer (Rock On!!):

Farhan Akhtar

Farhan Akhtar broke the conventional Bollywood mould with an uber cool friendship movie starring the biggest stars, Dil Chahta Hai. He didn’t stop there and went to act himself, even singing, in 2008 film Rock On!! Today he is as acclaimed an actor as a director, having given many memorable performances.

30. Ayan Mukerji – Director (Wake Up Sid):

Wake Up Sid director Ayan Mukerji, Konkona Sen Sharma and Ranbir Kapoor

Kajol and Rani Mukerji’s young cousin made a coming of age movie that everyone could relate to. With great performances by all, including the lead pair Ranbir Kapoor and Konkona Sen Sharma and lovely music, the film is one of the best in Bollywood.

31. Abhishek Kapoor – Director (Rock On!!): He flopped as an actor but wowed audiences with his treatment of the rock music movie. He surprised us later by handling a completely different topic in Kai Po Che!.

Ehsaan Noorani, Farhan Akhtar, Luke Kenny, Arjun Rampal, Abhishek Kapoor, Purab Kohli and Loy Mendonsa
Abhishek Kapoor in black shirt on the right.

32. Vinil Mathew – Director (Hasee Toh Phasee):

Parineeti Chopra, Vinil Mathew and Sidharth Malhotra

The just-released Hasee Toh Phasee has got mixed reviews but is being appreciated for its content.

33. Mansoor Khan – Director (Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak):

Mansoor Khan, Juhi Chawla and Aamir Khan

An IIT educated engineer, he took over the reigns of directing Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak when his illustrious filmmaker father Nasir Hussain fell ill. Legend is that Mansoor added his own touch to the movie by being adamant about the sad ending. The rest is history. The 1983 movie is a cult love story now. It also made Mansoor’s cousin Aamir Khan and Miss India-turned-actor Juhi Chawla India’s new sweethearts.

34. Parineeti Chopra – Supporting Actor (Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl) and Leading Lady (Ishaqzaade):

Parineeti Chopra in Ladies vs Ricky Bahl

Bollywood got some new energy and spunk with the entry of this girl from the marketing department of Yash Raj Films. Yes, she is Priyanka Chopra’s cuz and that helped her get an audition maybe. But the talent is all hers! The heroine of Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl was Anushka Sharma, but this little lady held her own and managed to get noticed among the other actors. She soon landed a lead role in YRF’s Ishaqzaade and was last seen in Hasee Toh Phasee.

35. Arjun Kapoor – Actor (Ishaqzaade):

Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra in Ishaqzaade

Producer Boney Kapoor and entrepreneur Mona Kapoor’s son got a launchpad with Yash Raj Films. He first acted in their youth studio Y-Films’ Virus Diwan, but the movie was shelved in 2011. Arjun then made his debut with Ishaqzaade in 2012. He had Parineeti Chopra for support, and he was the newbie in the film. The intense-looking actor will now be seen in Gunday with Priyanka Chopra and Ranveer Singh. The film releases on February 14, 2014 – Valentine’s Day.

Who is your favourite among these celebs?

Photos: Publicity stills, Yash Raj Films, Yogen Shah | Imaging: Jyoti Desale