100 Years – 100 Iconic performances of mainstream Bollywood up-to-date

Bollywood completed 100 years in 2013, just 4 years back. But we can’t claim it to be 100 years of Hindi films, because Raja Harishchandra (1913), produced and directed by Dadasaheb Phalke was a silent film. Talkies were introduced to Indian cinema only in the 1930s. The first talkie – Alam Ara released in 1931 was originally an Urdu film, though listed as a Bollywood movie. The movie directed by Ardeshir Irani, included 7 songs as well. Since then music and dance became the essentials of Indian cinema, still followed by filmmakers. The first Hindi talkie was Shirin Farhad released soon after Alam Ara, and was a box office hit. Since 1930s, it has been a slow procession from Urdu to Urdu-Hindi mix to Hindi movies over the decades, what we see now. Bollywood songs too have noticed a strong influence of Urdu language even now, and the famous lyricists of Bollywood industry are well-known Urdu poets as well.

Colour films have been introduced to Indian film scene before talkies came into existence. Kishen Kanhaya (1937) is the first Indian colour film, made in Hindi language, though earlier Sairandhri (1933) was made in India, but processed in Germany. It’s more than 85 years since first talkie was released, and countless movies released in Bollywood. Yet only a few performances stay in our minds forever and the majority slowly fade from memory.

I would like to list 100 such awesome performances of Bollywood screen played by lead actors, and a few supporting actors and I have included only those movies which I have watched at least once. For the same reason, I will definitely miss many great names I know. I have mostly included mainstream movies, preferably belonging to commercial sector which made an impact on audience despite being a commercial film.

I have forgotten many good performances I have seen in my childhood days, mostly Dilip Kumar, Nutan, Meena Kumari, Vaijayanthimala and Raj Kapoor, watched almost 15-20 years back. So I may not be able to cover all their movies. Also I can’t remember many great performances of Om Puri, Nassaruddeen Shah, Anupam Kher, Shabana Azmi, Smita Patel etc who excelled in offbeat roles. Yet it’s my sincere effort to list some of the great performances of Bollywood cinema, which made positive influences in the growth of Indian film industry.

Rajesh Khanna in Aradhana still remains my favourite performance all time. Since I watched this film on television, I became a great fan of India’s super star. Anand and Amar Prem can also be listed among his brilliant performances. In the new generation cinema, I extremely loved Shah Rukh Khan’s performance in Baazigar, and since then I am a great fan of King Khan. Read SRK’s 25 best films in past 25 years.

Apart from taking into account the actor’s brilliance in portraying a role, I also noted the impact of the actor’s character in audience’s heart. Apart from 100 best memorable roles on film screen, I have also listed 50 more as a second list, and both the lists contain artists who played iconic roles as lead actor and supporting. I have also excluded a few, to include more names in the list of 100 best performances. And here goes my list.

100 Iconic roles of Bollywood cinema

Dev Anand and Waheeda Rahman in Guide

1. Balraj Sahni in Do Bigha Zamin (1953) 

2. Dilip Kumar in Devdas (1955)

3. Dilip Kumar in Naya Daur (1957)

4. Nargis in Mother India (1957)

5. Mala Sinha in Dhool Ka Phool (1959)

6. Nutan in Sujata (1959)

7. Madhubala in Mughal-E-Azam (1960)

mughal e azam

Madhubala in Mughal-E-Azam

8. Shammi Kapoor in Junglee (1961)

9. Raj Kapoor in Sangham (1964)

10. Rajendra Kumar in Sangham (1964)

11. Sadhna in Woh Kaun Thi (1964)

12. Vyjayanthimala in Sangham (1964)

13. Dev Anand in Guide (1965)

14. Rajendra Kumar in Arzoo (1965)

15. Sadhna in Arzoo (1965)

16. Waheeda Rahman in Guide (1965)

17. Sunil Dutt in Mera Saaya (1966)

18. Manoj Kumar in Upkar (1967)

19. Pran in Upkar (1967)

20. Saira Bhanu in Shagird (1967)

21. Ashok Kumar in Aashirvaad (1969)

22. Dharmendra in Satyakam (1969)

23. Rajesh Khanna in Aradhana (1969)

24. Sharmila Tagore in Aradhana (1969)

Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore in Aradhana

25. Asha Parekh in Katti Patang (1971)

26. Rajesh Khanna in Anand (1971)

27. Rajesh Khanna in Amar Prem (1972)

28. Hema Malini in Seeta Aur Geeta (1972)

29. Jaya Bhaduri in Koshish (1972)

30. Meena Kumari in Pakeezah (1972)

31. Sanjeev Kumar in Koshish (1972)

32. Jaya Bhaduri in Abhimaan (1973)

33. Amol Palekar in Rajnigandha (1974)

34. Vinod Khanna in Imtihaan (1974)

35. Amitabh Bachchan in Deewar (1975)

36. Amitabh Bachchan in Sholay (1975)

37. Dharmendra in Sholay (1975)

38. Shreeram Lagoo in Gharonda (1977)

39. Amitabh Bachchan in Muquadar Ka Sikander (1978)

40. Amol Palekar in Golmaal (1979)

golmaal kishore kumar song

Amol Palekar in Golmaal

41. Utpal Dutt in Golmaal (1979)

42. Naseeruddin Shah in Aakrosh (1980)

43. Om Puri in Aakrosh (1980)

44. Rekha in Umrao Jaan (1981)

45. Shabana Azmi in Arth (1982)

46. Kamal Hassan in Sadma (1983)

47. Anupam Kher in Saaransh (1984)

48. Om Puri in Ardh Satya (1984)

49. Smita Patel in Mirch Masala (1987)

50. Anupam Kher in Daddy (1989)

51. Bhagya Sree in Meine Pyar Kiya (1989)

52. Salman Khan in Meine Pyar Kiya (1989)

Salman Khan and Bhagyashree in Meine Pyar Kiya

53. Sri Devi in Chaal Baaz (1989)

54. Sri Devi in Chandini (1989)

55. Aamir Khan in Dil (1990)

56. Amitabh Bachchan in Agneepath (1990)

57. Madhuri Dixit in Dil (1990)

58. Madhuri Dixit in Saajan (1991)

59. Sanjay Dutt in Saajan (1991)

60. Madhuri Dixit in Beta (1992)

61. Shah Rukh Khan in Baazigar (1993)

asha bhosle anu malik songs

Shah Rukh Khan in Baazigar

62. Madhuri Dixit in Hum Aap Ke Hain Kaun (1994)

63. Salman Khan in Hum Aapke Hain Kaun (1994)

64. Kajol in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (1998)

65. Shah Rukh Khan in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (1995)

Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol in DDLJ

66. Tabu in Maachis (1996)

67. Anil Kapoor in Virasat (1997)

68. Karishma Kapoor in Dil To Pagal Hai (1997)

69. Madhuri Dixit in Dil To Pagal Hai (1997)

70. Ajay Devgan in Zakhm (1998)

71. Kajol in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998)

72. Manoj Vajpayee in Satya (1998)

73. Shah Rukh Khan in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998)

74. Aishwarya Rai in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999)

75. Ajay Devgan in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999)

Ajay Devgan and Aishwarya Rai in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam

76. Tabu in Chandini Bar (2001)

77. Aamir Khan in Lagaan (2002)

78. Ajay Devgan in The Legend of Bhagat Singh (2002)

79. Hrithik Roshan in Koi Mil Gaya (2003)

80. Manoj Vajpayee in Pinjar (2003)

81. Preity Zinta in Kal Ho Na Ho (2003)

82. Salman Khan in Tere Naam (2003)

83. Sanjay Dutt in Munna Bhai MBBS (2003)

84. Shah Rukh Khan in Kal Ho Na Ho (2003)

SRK and Preity Zinta in Kal Ho Na Ho

85. Urmila Matondkar in Pingar (2003)

86. Rani Mukherji in Hum Tum (2004)

87. Amitabh Bacchan in Black (2005)

88. Rani Mukerji in Black (2005)


Big B and Rani Mukerji in Black

89. Darsheel Safari in Tare Zameen Par (2007)

90. Kareena Kapoor in Jab We Met (2007)

91. Hrithik Roshan in Jodha Akbar (2008)

92. Kangana Ranaut in Fashion (2008)

93. Shah Rukh Khan in Chak De! India (2008)

94. Ajay Devgan in Once Upon A Time in Mumbai (2010)

95. Vidya Balan in Dirty Picture (2011)

Vidya Balan in Dirty Picture

96. Irrfan Khan in Paan Tomar Singh (2012)

97. Kangana Ranaut in Queen (2014)

98. Shahid Kapoor in Haider (2014)

99. Alia Bhat in Dear Zindagi (2016)

100. Sonam Kapoor in Neerja (2016)

List of next 50 top performances of Bollywood 

Here is the list of 50 more memorable performances. Actually I am a bit confused, and want to list a few of them among the list of 100 best iconic performances, but couldn’t. And here it goes!

Shammi Kapoor in Brahmachari

1. Raj Kapoor in Sree 420 (1955)

2. Vyjayanthimala in Naya Daur (1957)

3. Asha Parekh in Ziddi (1964)

4. Shashi Kapoor in Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965)

5. Asha Parekh in Aaye Dil Bahar Ke (1966)

6. Nargis Dutt in Raat Aur Din (1967)

7. Dev Anand in Jewel Thief (1967)

8. Raj Kumar in Neel Kamal (1968)

9. Shammi Kapoor in Brahmachari (1968)

10. Waheeda Rehman in Neel Kamal (1968)

11. Rajesh Khanna in Katti Patang (1970)

12. Zeenat Aman in Hare Rama Hara Krishna (1972)

Zeenat Aman in Hare Krishna Hare Ram

13. Amjad Khan in Sholay (1975)

14. Hema Malini in Sholay (1975)

15. Lakshmi in Julie (1975)

16. Sharmila Tagore in Mausam (1975)

17. Rekha in Khubsoorat (1980)

18. Rishi Kapoor in Karz (1980)

19. Smita Patil in Chakra (1981)

20. Meenakshi Seshadri in Hero (1983)

21. Padmini Kolhapure in Prem Rog (1983)

22. Amrish Puri in Mr. India (1987)

23. Juhi Chawla in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988)

24. Rishi Kapoor in Chandini (1989)

25. Sri Devi in Lamhe (1991)

Sridevi in Lamhe

26. Anil Kapoor in Beta (1992)

27. Juhi Chawla in Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke (1993)

28. Meenakshi Seshadri in Damini (1993)

29. Manisha Koirala in 1942: A Love Story (1994)

30. Urmila Matondkar in Rangeela (1995)

31. Karishma Kapoor in Raja Hindustani (1996)

32. Shah Rukh Khan in Dil To Pagal Hai (1997)

33. Kajol in Dushman (1998)

34. Sanjay Dutt in Vastav (1999)

35. Hrithik Roshan in Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai (2000)

Hrithik Roshan in his iconic pose from his most popular film, Kaho Na Pyar Hai

36. Shah Rukh Khan in Mohabbatein (2000)

37. Madhuri Dixit in Devdas (2002)

38. Shah Rukh Khan in Swades (2004)

39. Aamir Khan in Rang De Basanti (2006)

40. Kajol in Fanaa (2006)

41. Saif Ali Khan in Omkara (2006)

42. Akshay Kumar in Namaste London (2007)

43. Ranbir Kapoor in Rocket Singh: The Salesman of the Year (2009)

44. Deepika Padukone in Cocktail (2012)

45. Alia Bhat in Highway (2014)

highway alia bhatt

Alia Bhatt in Highway

46. Sushant Rajput Singh in Detective Byomkesh Bakshi (2015)

47. Aamir Khan in Dangal (2016)

48. Alia Bhat in Udta Punjab (2016)

49. Shah Rukh Khan in Fan (2016)

50. Sushant Rajput Singh in MS Dhoni: The Untold Story (2016)

jab tak song

Sushant Rajput Singh from M. S. Dhoni

I have covered 150 best roles on Bollywood screen to some extent. Many of the roles listed above have been career-defining roles of respective actors. Definitely I missed some great names in the list, I know. Yet it’s my humble tribute to Bollywood’s shooting stars who entertained us over the years, and are here to entertain us for many years to come.

Also read a few more miscellaneous articles of Bollywood cinema belonging to old era. Just click on the image links to read 


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A freelance writer and blogger by profession since October 2011, interested in writing over a wide range of topics. Hope you enjoy my writings. I belong to one of the beautiful places of the world, Kerala, nicknamed as 'God's own country'.

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