In the first part of highest grosser of the year series, Bollywood Hungama did an in-depth analysis of the actors with maximum highest grossing film of the year spanning 73 years from 1947 to 2020. While Salman Khan was crowned the biggest Bollywood superstar since independence with 10 highest grosser of the year, Dilip Kumar bagged the second spot with 9 films in the list, whereas Aamir Khan was third with 7 films in the list. The top three stars contributed 26 of the total 73 highest grosser of the year, which in percentage terms is 35%. In the second part of the series, we come up with a detailed decade by decade analysis of stars fighting for the top spot in the respective decades. The part 2 is a decade by decade analysis from 1957 to 1989
1947 to 1949 – The rise of Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor
The first 3 years since independence was dominated by the young sensation of that era, Dilip Kumar, who delivered two of the three highest grossers of the year with Jugnu (1947) and Shaheed (1948). His sole competitor in the decade was the showman, Raj Kapoor, with one highest grosser of the year in Barsaat (1949). The three years post-independence marked the rise of two of India’s most iconic superstars till date and as they say, the rest is history.
1950 to 1959 – The dominance of Raj Kapoor and the era of women dominated films
While Dilip Kumar established himself as a tragedy king through the decade of 50’s, it was Raj Kapoor who owned it with three highest grosser of the year in Awaara (1951), Shree 420 (1955) and Anari (1959). While Dilip Kumar kept a rather low profile when it came to top grossers of the year with just one film, Aan (1952), the decade also saw the rise of stars like Ashok Kumar and Dev Anand. 1950’s will also be remembered as the only decade that saw not one, but three female lead films emerging top grossers of the year – Anarkali (1953), Nagin (1954), Mother India (1957) – a phenomenon that has never happened since then. In-fact, ever since 1957, the top grosser of the year is majorly men dominated. While Mother India had the presence of Sunil Dutt, who became a reasonably big name since then, it majorly drew crowds due to a stellar act of Nargis.
1960 to 1969 – Dharmendra makes a smashing entry, as Dilip Kumar continues to rule the box-office
1960’s was the decade that saw the rise of superstars like Dharmendra and Rajesh Khanna, however, Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor continued their strong pull at the box-office even as they entered the third decade of their career. While Rajesh Khanna saw a streak of hit films in the late 60’s, with one of them being a highest grosser of the year, Aradhana (1969), Dharmendra rose like a phoenix and in less than five years of his debut, he managed to deliver two massive grossers in Phool Aur Patthar (1966) and Aankhen (1967). Dilip Kumar on the other hand gave consecutive highest grosser of the year at the start of the decade in Mughal-E-Azam (1960) and Ganga Jamuna (1961).
1970 to 1979 – The decade of Amitabh Bachchan with Dharmendra consolidating his position
70’s will always be remembered as the decade of Amitabh Bachchan, as the superstar in the first years of his career had five highest grossing film of the year in Roti Kapda Aur Makaan (1974), Sholay (1975), Amar Akbar Anthony (1977), Mukaddar Ka Sikandar (1978) and Suhaag (1979). While factually, Dharmendra was a bigger star than Amitabh Bachchan around the release of Sholay, it was a two-hero film with both of them bringing in the audience in different stages of film. While Dharmendra got the initial, in the longer run, Big B emerged a megastar and gave it longevity. In the same decade, Dharmendra had two highest grossers of the year in Seeta Aur Geeta (1972) and Sholay (1975), while the evergreen romantic star, Rajesh Khanna delivered the biggest hit of the year in 1971 with Haathi Mere Saathi. One might argue that Seeta Aur Geeta was more of a Hema Malini biggie and that does hold a lot of weightage in an argument as it featured her in the double role of Seeta and Geeta. However, if we take the re-runs into account, Dharmendra would have his third highest grosser of the decade with Mera Gaon Mera Desh in 1971, which is considered one of the biggest hits in the history of Indian cinema.
1980 to 1989 – Dilip Kumar’s comeback, Amitabh Bachchan’s stability and a record entry for Saman Khan
80’s was a rather mixed bag, as no actor was consistent in delivering the highest grosser of the year. While Dilip Kumar made a comeback to acting after a sabbatical, and delivered 3 highest grossers of the year in the second innings of his career with Kranti (1981), Vidhaata (1982) and Karma (1986) the rest of the year was a mixed bag with Amitabh Bachchan, Anil Kapoor, Vinod Khanna, Jeetendra, Dharmendra delivering one highest grosser of the year each. However, 80’s will always be remembered for the debut of two megastars, Aamir Khan and Salman Khan. While Aamir Khan made his debut with a hit film and built up an image from there, probably the first time in Bollywood history came an actor who made his debut with a highest grosser of the year, and following that, there was no stopping him. Yes, we are talking about Salman Khan, whose debut film, Maine Pyaar Kiya (1989) was not just the highest grossing film of the year, but also, the biggest grosser of the decade.
Stay tuned for part 3 of the highest grosser of the year series, as we take you through the Shah Rukh Khan phenomenon, the Hrithik Roshan impact, the Aamir Khan consistency and the Salman Khan stardom with a strong comeback.