Hyderabad: In the history of Indian cinema, there exists a trendsetter who shattered financial barriers and redefined the value of talent. Long before the Khans and Bachchans, this actor etched his name in history by becoming the first to command a staggering Rs 1.25 crore for a single film. And no, it wasn’t Shah Rukh Khan or Salman Khan.
But, do you know who the first Indian actor was to earn Rs 1 crore per film?
It was the legendary Megastar Chiranjeevi from Tollywood film industry.
Chiranjeevi: Bigger than Bachchan
In 1992, The Week magazine adorned its cover with the headline: “Bigger than Bachchan.” The subject of this bold proclamation was none other than Chiranjeevi. His Telugu film “Aapadbandhavudu” catapulted him into the elite league.
Chiranjeevi’s remuneration for Aapadbandhavudu crossed the magical Rs. 1 crore mark, making him the First Indian actor to achieve this feat. Even Amitabh Bachchan, the reigning king of the box office, was charging under Rs. 90 lakh per film during that era.
Chiranjeevi’s journey began in the early ’80s, and he swiftly established himself as a star of action entertainers. By the turn of the decade, he reigned supreme as the number-one hero in Telugu cinema. His back-to-back superhits earned him the label of “Megastar”.
In just a few years, Tamil superstar Kamal Haasan made it into the Rs. 1 crore club in 1994. Rajinikanth soon followed. When Amitabh Bachchan returned to acting after his hiatus in 1995, he too began charging more than a crore per film.
Chiranjeevi’s birthday: A look at his car collection, properties
Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan – the heroes of the new generation – also reached this amount by the late 1990s. By the late-1990s, Nagarjuna and Venkatesh, who were contemporaries of Chiranjeevi in the Telugu film industry, were also earning more than one crore per film.
In 2024, Chiranjeevi was conferred with the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian honor, recognizing his immense contributions.