Bollywood's Biggest Earners

India’s movie industry is the largest in the world in terms of ticket sales and movies produced.

In 2009, 3.2 billion movie tickets were sold, more than double the number in the United States.

India also churns out three times as many movies as Hollywood. It's no wonder that Bollywood’s leading men and women are mega-stars and rake in millions.

The earnings are conservative because they’re based on advance taxes paid for the financial years 2009 or 2010, as reported by Indian media. It assumes a top tax bracket of 33 percent and an exchange rate of 44.5 Indian rupees per dollar.

9. Aishwarya Rai

Estimated annual earnings: *$1.5 million

A former model and Miss World, Aishwarya Rai entered the movie industry in 1997. She won accolades for her roles in period dramas such as "Devdas" (2002). Better known internationally as the face of L’Oreal and Longines watches, Rai co-starred with Dylan McDermott in the 2005 Hollywood film, "The Mistress of Spices".

* based on 2009 advanced tax

8. Kareena Kapoor

Estimated annual earnings: $3 million

Kareena Kapoor shares the honor with Amitabh Bachchan as the 8th highest-earning actor in India. Known as Bebo, Kapoor was born into a famous Bollywood family. She starred in the 2009 film "Three Idiots", which became the top-grossing Bollywood film of all time. In a 2009 poll by India’s DNA newspaper, she was voted as one of India’s most famous icons. She’s frequently in the news for her relationship with Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan.

8. Amitabh Bachchan

Estimated annual earnings: *$3 million

A huge superstar in India, Bachchan is still going strong in his 60s. He shot to fame in the 1970s as the angry young man in a series of Indian films. After temporary retirement and declaring bankruptcy in the 1990s, he returned to the limelight in 2000 as the host of India’s version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire". In 2010, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Asian Film Festival.

*based on 2009 advanced tax

7. Abhishek Bachchan

Estimated annual earnings: *$3.1 million

Married to former model and Miss World, Aishwarya Rai, Abhishek Bachchan also comes from an illustrious Bollywood family. His father, Amitabh, is widely considered the greatest actor in Indian cinema. Abhishek played a leading role in the 2007 film "Guru", whose plot mirrored the rise of India’s richest business family, the Ambanis.

*based on 2009 advanced tax

6. Katrina Kaif

Estimated annual earnings: $3.9 million

Born in Hong Kong and brought up in London, Katrina Kaif is a former model. She began her Bollywood career in 2005. Known less for her acting skills and more for her endorsements, she reportedly earns as much as $600,000 per deal and is the brand ambassador for Pantene Shampoos.

5. Salman Khan

Estimated annual earnings: $6 million

Khan began his acting career in 1988 and went on to star in some of Bollywood’s most successful films in the 1990s. Known as the bad boy of Indian cinema, Khan was arrested in 2002 for rash and negligent driving after his car ran over several people sleeping on a pavement. He was also jailed for illegal hunting of an endangered species of deer.

4. Saif Ali Khan

Estimated annual earnings: $7.5 million

Sharing the fourth spot as India's top-earning celebrity is Saif Ali Khan (no relationship to Aamir Khan or Shah Rukh Khan). He rose to fame in 2001 with the film "Dil Chahta Hai" (The Heart Desires). Khan branched out into film producing in 2009 when he set up his company Illuminati. The company’s first movie "Love Aaj Kal" was released in 2009 and told the story of an Indian living abroad. Khan is often in the news for his relationship with another Bollywood leading lady, Kareena Kapoor.

4. Ranbir Kapoor

Estimated annual earnings: $7.5 million

Among Bollywood’s younger generation, Ranbir Kapoor is the son of famous Indian actor Rishi Kapoor, and is recognized as an actor among Bollywood’s younger generation. In 2010, he starred in Prakash Jha’s film "Rajneeti". Kapoor is the brand ambassador for Pepsi and just signed up to endorse Nissan.

3. Aamir Khan

Estimated annual earnings: $12 million

One of India’s most acclaimed actors, Khan acted in and produced the 2001 film "Lagaan", which was nominated for an Academy Awards in the foreign film category. Khan also starred in the 2009 comedy 3 "Idiots", which went on to become the highest grossing Bollywood film ever.

2. Akshay Kumar

Estimated annual earnings: $13.5 million

Kumar became famous for his roles in action films in the 1990s. As one of India’s biggest brand ambassadors, Kumar endorses cola brand Thumbs Up, LG electronics and Levi’s. In 2009, he starred in the film "Kambhakkht Ishq", which included cameos by Hollywood actors Sylvester Stallone and Denise Richards.

1. Shah Rukh Khan

Estimated annual earnings: $15 million

By far India’s best-known movie star, Shah Rukh Khan is also Bollywood’s highest tax payer. In 2008, Newsweek named him one of the 50 most powerful people in the world. Khan has won 13 national film awards, 7 of them as best actor.

He cemented his place as Bollywood’s top star playing the leading role in some of the most famous romantic comedies of the 1990s. His 2010 film "My Name is Khan" touched on the sensitive topic of terrorism and the relationships between India’s Hindus and Muslims and went on to become a major commercial success.


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