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The Top 100 Celebrities of India

The winners truly take all: The top 10 account for almost as much earnings as the other 90

Deepak Ajwani
Published: Feb 5, 2013 06:23:30 AM IST
Updated: Feb 5, 2013 12:45:03 PM IST

In 2012, Salman Khan had a year like no other. He set the box office on fire with Ek Tha Tiger, raking in Rs 198 crore in gross collections across the country. It was the largest box office hit last year by a wide margin. Salman also ratcheted up his popularity with the Being Human Foundation that won him the goodwill of millions of fans. Yet, that didn’t stop the Dabangg hero from being overtaken by his rival, Shah Rukh Khan. SRK jumped to the No. 1 spot on our most powerful celebrity rankings, on the strength of his endorsement income. He raked in Rs 202 crore from entertainment-related earnings. Of that, nearly Rs 150 crore came from his endorsement of 23 brands.

This Battle of the Khans is one of the highlights of the first Forbes India Celebrity 100 list. Unlike the wealth lists we publish, where the focus is on earnings or net worth, the Celebrity 100 is different. The list—which includes movie actors, television stars, authors, film directors, musicians, singers, sportspersons, comedians and models—is compiled on the basis of both money and fame. Fame is defined as visibility in print, television, and online, plus social media power, which we measured by looking at each celebrity’s presence on Facebook and Twitter. The celebrity’s gross pre-tax earnings were combined with their fame scores to arrive at the final rankings.

This time, a line-up of Bollywood celebrities and cricket stars have grabbed the top 10 positions. While that’s no surprise, the winners truly take all: The top 10 earn  almost as much as 90 others put together.

Most celebrities are between 30 and 50 years old. However, that hasn’t prevented a clutch of 12 celebrities under 30, like Saina Nehwal, Virat Kohli, Anushka Sharma, Mary Kom and Shreya Ghoshal, from breaking into the top 50. At 23, world’s No. 2 shuttler Saina is the youngest on the list, earning Rs 13 crore. There’s only one musician who has managed to break into the top 20: AR Rahman’s soaring popularity isn’t just an affirmation of his skills as a world-class musician, but also a function of his growing presence on social media. Rahman has more than 10 million Facebook fans. This means that every post of his holds the potential to go viral almost instantly. The lesson for other celebrities: Ignore social media at your own peril.
But greater presence on social media needn’t always set the cash registers on fire. Amish Tripathi, who penned mythology-based fiction novels (The Immortals of Meluha and The Secret of the Nagas) earned almost three times more (Rs 10 crore) than Chetan Bhagat (Rs 3.2 crore) during the period. This, despite Bhagat’s fame rankings being nearly 30 points higher than Tripathi’s. In the literary world, you may have fame, but it doesn’t necessarily translate into higher earnings. (Yet when you combine fame and money, Bhagat edges well ahead of Tripathi.)

Finally, keep an eye on an evolving genre: Stand-up comics. Two of the most popular names in the trade—Vir Das and Cyrus Broacha—have broken into the top 100. It perhaps is a signal, ever so subtle, that niche urban audiences are now ready to look beyond the staple fare of Bollywood and cricket. 

Click for Complete Forbes India Celebrity 100 List

Project Team: Ashish k Mishra, NS Ramnath, Nilofer D’Souza, Shravan Bhat & Sohini Mitter

Principal Data Partners: Percept Talent Management, TAM-Eikona, LexisNexis Supported by: indiantelevision.com, Carving Dreams, tellychakkar.com, Nielsen Book Scan

(This story appears in the 08 February, 2013 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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  • Tanu

    salman deserves to be the first!!!!!!!

    on Jul 28, 2014
  • Pradeep

    thala ajith is great person u should give him first place he is very simple, multi talanted,handsome,he gives respect to every one

    on Mar 20, 2014
  • Chandra Shekar

    Its Thala ajith, he is real time hero, he is a motar bike racer, formula car driver, pilot licence holder, good aero modeller, fine actor more then that he is a gem of the person, one should learn from him how to respect the women at highest level, he is helped out all his maids, gardener

    on Dec 27, 2013
  • Nikhil

    mahesh babu rocks

    on Dec 16, 2013
  • Dhivya

    there he is at 28th position..so proud for this anna..thalaivaa vijay

    on Nov 6, 2013
  • Vnv

    This list is not at all meaningful based on a set of 10 -15 people who know only bollywood and does not know about any other industry

    on Oct 16, 2013
    • Mrutyunjay

      hello, this is not about bollywood or kollywood or tollywood, ok, this is based on anual earning, popularity and most fans

      on Dec 8, 2014
  • Pavithra

    I am shocked top ten places occupied by bollywood and cricket players

    on Sep 15, 2013
  • Rajiv

    Srk born to rule the film industry. So no doubt he is on top. Thanks SRK (Indian) to make our country Proud

    on Sep 11, 2013
  • Manikandan

    Good !!!!

    on Aug 30, 2013
  • Sk Rasekul Islam

    sachche dil se mehnt karnese kiya nehi hota? Wo srk se sikhna chahiye sabko.......... really grt persn

    on Aug 26, 2013
  • Rajesh

    Shahrukh is king ,no. 1 star on earth

    on Aug 25, 2013
  • Ganesh

    this is not fair.what about rajini kanth.

    on Jun 26, 2013
  • Bj Watling

    shahrukh puri duniya ka baadshah...

    on May 31, 2013
  • Richi

    salman bhai rocks

    on May 6, 2013
  • Psocial

    Salman khan does deserve to be the in the top of the list.... http://www.psocial.in/category/celebrities

    on Apr 19, 2013
  • Emon

    they will deserve so.

    on Apr 10, 2013
  • Ravi Boina

    Srk is always no1

    on Mar 28, 2013