Indian celebrities are well known for their posh lifestyle and for being the epitome of excess and luxury in every facet of their lives. India is a celebrity-obsessed nation, and the paparazzi make sure to cash in on this fact, bringing us every trivial detail in the lives of luxury they lead. But even hardcore followers of these celebrities do not bother to look at how they reached their current status, as celebrity history is usually a taboo and less glamorous topic to pursue to satiate a present obsessed generation.
Our knowledge of these stars is not complete if we do not know how they rose to the societal ranks. Some were already in film and advertisements, while others were in far less glamorous jobs and positions.
Now let us look at what some of our favorite Indian celebrities did before they made it big.
Mr. Perfectionist’s career is a perfect example of how starting early can help you reap the rewards in the long run. It’s a well-known usage that a journey of thousands of miles begins with a single step, and this is especially true for one of the most respected and well-known Bollywood actors, Aamir Khan. He starts his journey as a child actor in Yaadon ki Baarat, an inconspicuous role that got the ball rolling for his later years of unrivalled success in the industry.
Deepika was well known in the advertisement and the fashion industry before she stole hearts and caught many an eye through her stunning debut in Om Shanti Om that set the stage for an illustrious career. Her ties to modelling may not be surprising given her effortless suave on the big screen but what may turn a few heads is her experience as a professional badminton player at a young age. She even reached the national level but was in the end. She followed her gut to enter the fashion industry. Now she is one of the highest-earning celebrities in Bollywood.
The stories till now have illustrated an organic growth from film to stardom or fashion to stardom. Still, Rajnikanth’s career shows a magnificent and meteoric rise that would not be out of place in a blockbuster on a silver screen. One of India’s most prominent and most influential celebrities started as a bus conductor in the Bangalore Transport Service while pursuing a role in cinema. He would finally get his big break much later, making a stunning entry into Tamil cinema, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Adhering to the trend, we can look at another modern-day great who overcame many adversities to stake his claim in Bollywood. Nawazuddin Siddiqui was brought up with eight siblings and had to work as a chemist to support his family. But it was his job as a security guard in a theatre that made him passionate about acting, and as a result, joins The National School of Drama that helped him start his career. Today is a world-renowned character actor known for several unforgettable roles.
Boman Irani is yet another classic example of the fairytale rags to riches story. The actor, well known for his incredible comic timing and solid performances, worked as a waiter and a room service attendant in a Mumbai hotel. His platform to enter tinsel town was his avid interest in photography.
Onto the more star-studded members of Bollywood now and Shahid Kapoor was always in and around the glitz and glamour industry. This makes his first acting stint in an ad for a health drink, Complan, memorable. Although casting celebrity children in movies was the usual trope and an expected one, Shahid showed an ability to depart from that convention in being the make lead in a well-known ad at such a young age.
He might be one of Bollywood’s most celebrated and successful writers now with smashing hits such as PK, 3 Idiots, and Dangal. Still, his first foray into the cinema setting was actually in front of the camera. Rajkumar Hirani featured in a fevicol ad in his budding years in the industry, essaying a rather memorable, short role.
Vidhu Vinod Chopra
This versatile director is yet another unlikely candidate who started before the camera, albeit in a grander fashion. The famous director portrayed a very iconic role of Dushasana in a scene from the Mahabharata from the movie ‘Jaane Bhi do Yaaron.’ It is especially noteworthy as the character had comic undertones.
We add yet another celebrity child to our list with the irrepressible charm of Hrithik Roshan. He debuted as a child actor in the movie Bhagwan Dada, getting people excited about his acting chops at such a young age. He even had the opportunity to share screen space with the likes of Sridevi in the film. This role opened up the possibilities in a film that he would later flourish in.
Yet another product of an ad that gained nationwide acclaim, the charming Genelia captured hearts as one of Bollywood’s brightest stars. But before the stardom, she got the opportunity to share a screen with the Big B himself. She appeared in an ad for a Parker pen alongside Amitabh Bachchan himself in what must have been an unforgettable experience for the budding actor.
In yet another success story from a bizarre field, the swashbuckling star of movies such as Ramleela and Bajirao Mastani operated in a completely different line of work before Bollywood. Surprisingly, he started with a career as a copywriter in advertising agencies situated in Bombay. He never wanted to make it to Bollywood, but as chance would have it, he ended up turning into one of Bollywood’s most promising stars.
Carrying on with established actors who did not harbour dreams of making it big, Akshay Kumar never wanted to be an actor. Initially, he wanted to become a martial arts trainer in India, but the call of Bollywood was too big an opportunity to pass up. He worked as a waiter in a restaurant in Bangkok, studying taekwondo and obtaining a black belt in martial arts there. Before becoming the star, he is today.
One of Bollywood’s most versatile actors epitomizes a story of grit and struggle before making it big in cinema. Arshad Warsi did various small jobs to make ends meet, including being a door-to-door salesman and an assistant at a photo lab. He later would join a dance group to pursue his passion for dancing, eventually turning into a fairytale entry into Bollywood.
What better way to close off this list than looking at the Big B of Bollywood. As effortlessly flamboyant as he is on the screen, he worked jobs at shipping and other commercial firms before becoming an actor. In an odd bit of trivia, he also tried applying for the role of a broadcaster in All India Radio, only to be rejected.