here i am including only those who have been clear number ones in the 100 year history of bollywood in their respective fields. in case there are some who are at the equal level i have included them at the same rank. as always i have only considred boxoofice records / commercial acheivements, as they reflects public endorsements through ticket/album sales and not given any weighatge to awards/perceptions etc. i am not giving any career details of these great legends as they are too famous and everyone (well almost) knows everything (well almost) about them. rest can always google. i am just giving the rank and the reason for their inclusion. off course there are more actors in the list as they get the most direct endorsement from the paying public.
10 meena kumaari/asha bhonsale . they have to share a spot becoz there are many names in this countdown. but that does not mean they were talents less extraordinary or success stories less earth shattering. one was an actor who drew people, especially women, in hordes to the theaters, the other a songstress who sang melodious number after number over a period of 60 years. asha had no human competition (lata was divine) in bollywood, not till date. And meena kumaari remians the most successfull heroine ever with the largest number of female dominated movies, proving her success was all her own.
9. naushad/sd burman/shankar jaikishen/laxmi pyaare//rd burman/ kalyanji ananndji- these 6 music directors have hundreds of hit songs and tens of hit albums each and all were active for almost a quarter of a century. this is not to underestimate the other stalwart talents like op naiyar, madan mohan, salil chaudhari, jaidev, annu malik, himesh reshamiya etc but the sheer scale of public endorsement that these 6 got, has been unmatched.
8. kishore kumar /mohamad rafi – some wud say rafi, others wud say kishore but the most popular male singer will have to be from one of these two on the basis of hits songs itself. with all due respects to sonu, shreya, sunidhi chauhan, shaan, mohit, or even talat, mukesh, geeta dutt. they are all great talents, rafi and kishore are legends.
7. mehboob khan- now the guy directed aurat, behen, ek hi raasta, humaayun, anmol ghadi, andaz, aan, amar, and mother india. do you need any other reason. and look at the prolificity. 26 movies in 26 years. still such high strike rate.
6. amitabh bachchan- he was awhirlwind between 1973-1983, the likes of which was never seen before and has not been seen hence. many consider him the most succesful male star of bollywood though he had the advantage of being active in the most golden phase commercially. still he remains one of the three biggest male stars of bollywood ever. and the first one to be referred as a legend.
5. raj kapoor- the greatest commercial director of bollywood ever. aag, barsaat, awaara, shree 420, sangam, bobby, prem rog, raam teri ganga maili. these are reasons enuff.
4. salman khan – in terms of footfalls and PPP (percentage of patronizing population) he may tie with amitabh bachchan but in terms of scale of his hits, longevity, domionation of years (89, 91, 94, 99, 2005, 2010, 2011) he is ahead. a real legend with a magical off screen personality that has had 3 generations enthralled. and his regin continues unlike all others in this list whose entire career is being evaluated. in fact five years later he may deserve to move up.
3. hema malini- no heroine has had more hits than her. in fact no hero has had more hits than her either. among the male stars there is a tie between 3 for the top slot but among females no one comes anywhere near her. a clear legend if ever there was one.
2. dilip kumar – the guy taught acting to bollywood and then ruled it for 3 decades, remaining active for 55 years. till date almost all actors cite him as their favourite and so do all of those who have watched his films. and he has had some of the biggest hits ever including mughal e azam. a great combination of talent and success with almost zero compromise on quality for atleast 25 of those 30 years. whopping 8 biggest hit of the year over a period of 55 years
1. lata mageshkar – there was not, nor will there ever be another lata magsehskar. she is the ultimate diva as far as crooning glory is concerned with sister asha far behind her despite being the closest rival. lata’s successes are not in tens or hundreds, they are almost in thousands. the gap between her 1st recording and her last is close to 70 years. how else do you define a legend?