Actor Salman Khan’s total earnings constituted 9.84 percent of the total wealth of all the top 100 celebrities for the year Image: Sachin Gokhale
Sultan ruled in 2016. Both, the Aditya Chopra-produced movie, and the man who played the title role in it. It is hardly surprising then that the 50-year-old Salman Khan wrested back the top spot on the 2016 Forbes India Celebrity 100 List—from fellow superstar Shah Rukh Khan—with the highest revenue for the year under review at an impressive Rs 270.33 crore. Salman Khan’s strong year was led by the commercial success of the Sooraj Barjatya-directed Prem Ratan Dhan Payo in late 2015 and Sultan in 2016. His total earnings constituted 9.84 percent of the total wealth—Rs 2,745 crore—of all the top 100 celebrities for the year.
In fact, there has not been a single year when either Shah Rukh or Salman has not been No 1 on our Celebrity 100 List (the former thrice and the latter twice). The third in the trinity, Aamir Khan, who did not have a single movie release or brand endorsement in our time frame under consideration, has dropped out of the top 10 for the first time since 2012, when he was ranked 12.
When it comes to the fame ranking, however, while the three Khans have always been popular in our entertainment-crazy country, it is India’s Test cricket captain Virat Kohli who is the most popular celebrity. Add to that his consistent performances across all formats—Tests, ODIs and T20s—and his earnings, and his leading spot among sports personalities was a given, as was his ascension to No 3 from No 7 last year.
Actor Ranveer Singh too steadily continues to march up the Forbes India Celebrity List, led by the box office success of the historical epic Bajirao Mastani, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali , also back on the list—at No 75—after a one-year gap. Akshay Kumar , a constant challenger to the Khans, has also moved up to No 4, thanks to the commercial successes of movies like Airlift, Rustom and Housefull 3, besides a growing list of brand endorsements.
For only the second time since the list came into being have two woman actors broken into the top 10. Deepika Padukone is at No 6 and Priyanka Chopra at No 8. In 2012, it was Kareena Kapoor Khan (now No 38) and Katrina Kaif (No 25). Both Chopra and Padukone starred in Bajirao Mastani, but what they also have in common is their growing international presence. Chopra headlines the American television series Quantico and has the Hollywood movie Baywatch lined up for release in 2017; Padukone stars in the movie xXx: Return of Xander Cage, scheduled to hit screens in January 2017.
Hrithik Roshan, who starred in the box office failure Mohenjo Daro, maintained his position at No 10 reaffirming the point that the commercial performance of a movie may not necessarily impact the earnings and fame of a celebrity.
The ranking of most celebrities went up due to higher revenues in the 12 months under review, but for some it was their fame quotient that helped them rise in the ranks. Besides Aamir Khan, who maintains a high position on the list on the basis of his popularity, former opening batsman Virender Sehwag too did not fall drastically in the rankings despite his retirement from international cricket in October 2015, thanks to his No 25 fame rank—this, of course, can be attributed to his lively Twitter presence. Actor Bipasha Basu’s ranking, at No 71 (as against No 79 in 2015), was led by a high fame rank of 44, to a large part due to the buzz surrounding her marriage to actor Karan Singh Grover.
This year there were eight returnees to the list, prominent among which are Bhansali and the musical trio of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, who are back (at No 83) thanks to more live shows and Bollywood compositions.
There are also 14 newcomers, including a range of personalities such as celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor (at No 73), who has become a formidable brand in the food world. Twenty one-year-old badminton star PV Sindhu debuts at No 62, thanks to her revenue and fame after her silver medal at the Rio Olympics. Rapper Badshah also makes an impressive entry (at No 81), propelled by popular hits such as ‘Kaala Chashma’ (Baar Baar Dekho) and ‘Baby Ko Bass Pasand Hai’ (Sultan).
Among those who didn’t make the cut this year were music composers Salim-Sulaiman, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, singer Yo Yo Honey Singh and Ishant Sharma.
The highs and lows of celebritydom are all too well-known, and this list attempts to chronicle this rollercoaster ride. It is significant to note that the pool of celebrities has expanded to include those who have made their name in previously under-the-radar categories like food and, increasingly, from television. And, with media convergence and the internet producing new stars every day, there may be the emergence of web series stars too in the future. After all, as more and more people move towards content on their smartphones, you might literally be holding celebritydom in your hand.