Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

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:, Carving Dreams,, Nielsen Book Scan

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