In today’s era, top actors like Shah Rukh, Salman, and Amitabh in India command exorbitant fees of Rs 100 crore or even more per film, with their earnings skyrocketing to over Rs 250 crore as their profit share. However, it wasn’t always the case. Almost three decades ago, demanding Rs 1 crore seemed unthinkable. However, the trend started in 1992 when a Telugu superstar shattered that barrier.
Bigger than Bachchan
Back in the September 1992 edition of Stardust magazine, the headline “Bigger than Bachchan” was there showcasing Chiranjeevi’s face. The reason behind this accolade was his groundbreaking achievement of becoming the highest-paid actor in India. Charging Rs 1.25 crore for the Telugu film “Aapadbandhavudu,” directed by K Viswanath, Chiranjeevi proved his mettle. The film was released later that year and achieved resounding success, surpassing the reported earnings of Amitabh Bachchan, who was then charging Rs 85-90 lakh per film.
In succeeding years, Tamil superstar Kamal Haasan joined the esteemed 1-crore club, commanding around Rs 1 crore in 1994. Then Rajinikanth swiftly came up. Upon his return to acting in 1995, Amitabh Bachchan also started demanding over a crore per film. Embracing the mantle of new generation heroes, Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan achieved this milestone by the late-90s. Additionally, Chiranjeevi’s Telugu contemporaries Nagarjuna and Venkatesh joined the league, each charging over a crore per film by the late-1990s.
About the Megastar Chiranjeevi
Chiranjeevi ventured into Bollywood. Despite tasting success, he found contentment reigning over the Telugu film industry. Throughout the 90s, the actor delivered one blockbuster after another, establishing himself as the undisputed king of Telugu filmdom. His dominance earned him the title of a ‘Megastar,’ setting him apart from other ‘superstars’ in the industry. Following a career in the 2000s. The megastar made a triumphant comeback with films like “Khaidi No 150,” “Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy,” “GodFather,” and “Waltair Veerayya.” Though his supremacy may have slightly diminished, he remains one of the most prominent names in the Telugu film industry, commanding a fee of approximately Rs 45 crore per film.
Chiranjeevi’s groundbreaking feat as the first actor to demand a staggering sum of Rs 1 crore in 1992 ushered in a new era of remunerations for Indian actors. He emerged as the ‘Megastar’ of Telugu cinema and he continued to solidify his position as one of the most influential figures in Indian cinema.