5 Self-Made Stars of Bollywood

From Anushka Sharma to Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Riddhi explores the stars who have made it big on their own!
5 Self-Made Stars of Bollywood

Being launched in Bollywood is a dream that requires courage. Making it in this industry without a godfather is no mean feat. To be recognised and given a chance to act in a big banner movie without close connections with a director or producer is very difficult…

There are several examples of star kids who have not exactly had it easy but relatively better than those with no film background. But. here’s looking at some of the newer stars who entered the industry without any connections, bent some of the rules but became NAMES TO RECKON WITH!


Vidya Balan hails from a family which encouraged education above anything else. The actress once mentioned that she thought she would be a doctor, though she was very interested in films as well. At the young age of 16, she got her first break in Ekta Kapoor’s Hum Paanch where she played this intelligent, nerdy, clumsy character. Though she started out young, her family insisted that she complete her education and then take up acting. Her father was always supportive of her decision. But this wasn’t easy, since Vidya was more tomboyish and also slightly overweight. When she wanted to pursue glamour she faced a lot of rejection given her broader frame as opposed to the svelte figure norm. She then tried her luck in the South industry but there too, her first movie got shelved. She then turned to commercials and music videos.

Vidya was later mentored by Pradeep Sarkar who gave her, her first big break in Bollywood, Parineeta. Her performance was so good that she received an award for her debut. Today, Vidya has carved her own niche in the industry where strong feminine roles are concerned. She took some bold steps (The Dirty Picutre), where she played a seductress but also aced playing a protective mother and a police officer. With her last outing Kahaani 2, she was highly praised. Speaking of playing the strong characters she’s known for she says, “Women are blessed with energy - a power which is unique. I have been very fortunate to have played strong women and explored their strengths through my films.”


Coming from a small town in Himachal Pradesh, this girl is today referred as the queen of the industry and why not! Kangana faced hurdles at every point, personally and professionally when it came to Bollywood. Even as she entered the industry, she was more known via the negative publicity she garnered thanks to her tumultuous affair with Aditya Pancholi. To speak of as recently as 2016, she was in the news for all the wrong reasons, given her secret affair with Hrithik Roshan coming out in the open. But through it all, she has only emerged stronger.

The actress debuted with Gangster picking up her first award for Best Debut! For her, success wasn’t immediate; she made some poor choices, tried roles that typecast her as someone neurotic. She also did commercial cinema but playing second fiddle to heroes did not work well until she became her own hero with Queen in 2014! With this film, she changed the way people looked at her. She owned the film in her own right and made her screen presence count from then on. With Tanu Weds Manu Returns last year, playing a dual role, she gained even more accolades popularity as she aced both roles.

This actress broke the generic rules by which others play by. She has not worked with any of the Khans, and has even said that she doesn’t need them to be successful. She took risks by playing unconventional roles and failed, but stood up again. Today, she is among the highest paid actresses of the industry without a godfather, preferring to call the shots with her nonchalant attitude. She says what she means and the word firebrand is not associated with her, for no reason!

To quote her on her struggles, “When I started out, I was treated like a dog. People in the industry treated me like I didn’t deserve to be spoken to and I was some unwanted object. People made fun of me because I couldn’t speak English. Dealing with rejection became a part of my life.”


This man, in his own words, never wanted to be the conventional Bollywood hero. He does not have a physique to boast of or the personality a quintessential Bollywood hero demands. But he has secured his career by playing the kinds of roles he does. He has been noticed in every supporting role he plays but off the cameras, he can well blend into the common man crowd!

Coming from a small town, he was initially offered very sleazy roles but he made it to being in A-list movies shouldering with the Khans. He was interested in acting and started out with theatre but coming from a poor family, he did not have enough financial support. He then worked as a watchman to support himself while he enrolled in the National School of Drama! He had almost lost hope when Anurag Kashyap offered him his first role in Black Friday. Since then, there’s been no looking back for this actor. He made movies that were critically acclaimed more than mainstream entertainment but his identity was created. With the epic series of Gangs of Wasseypur he climbed the ladder to success. He has played the antagonist and has been loved for it. Today, he is recognised not only in the country but at international film festivals too – a sought after actor – based purely on his talent!

He is a humble man, who, for holidays, prefers to return to his village of Budhana in Muzzaffarnagar and help in farming. He doesn’t dream too big, he is satisfied with his skills and does his best every time he explores them. He gives his interviews in Hindi and apologises for not knowing English. “Before I came to Mumbai, many said, `Don't go. Wahan pe toh saare lambe, chaure, chitthe log chahiye, tum kyun waste kar rahe ho apna time?' I came here without a dream as that was already nipped in the bud. I tried out serials but nothing happened. After that, I started getting small roles. I had no qualms about doing them as I had no dream of becoming a star.”


He is perfect example of the adage ‘he came, he saw and he conquered’ in a very short span of time! It is just about six years since his debut but this actor has everyone swooning over him. He is eccentric, behaves unconventionally and spares no one, which makes him all the more interesting! But at the same time, he has a way of showing his love and respect for people. Like any other struggler, he went role hunting door to door, gave auditions and the kind of meagre roles he got, made him rethink his decision at first. He never used his film connection – Anil Kapoor (his uncle) – to get work.

Hailing from an advertising background, he worked as a copywriter before turning assistant director. In 2010, he got the golden opportunity of Band Baaja Baarat with YashRaj Films and knew how to establish himself. There has been no looking back since then. Though he rarely appears serious, he proved everyone wrong and went into isolation, to get into the character of Bajirao Mastani. The film and Ranveer received rave reviews. Ranveer had the conviction that he was born to entertain and he does it best!

Today, Ranveer on camera or off it always leaves a lasting impression – be it paying a tribute, promoting others’ films or dancing on stage, his energy levels are not easy to match. He has earned the title of the powerhouse of Bollywood and all on his own! He doesn’t shy away from expressing his love for his lady love Deepika, unlike others who resort to ‘no comments.’ One thing that shows he still has humility is whenever someone introduces themselves to him he shakes hands with, “Hi! I am Ranveer Singh.” 

He really doesn’t care what people think of him. He says, “I’ve learnt that you shouldn’t take people seriously whether they praise you or trash you.”


Coming from an armed forces background, Anushka Sharma’s father is an army officer while her brother was in the navy as well. She was educated at an army school so she had no plans for Bollywood, though she did want to pursue modelling. Her success on the ramp got her noticed and she auditioned for Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. And who would have thought this girl would make her BIG debut opposite the desirable Shah Rukh Khan! From then on, she knew she had begun well. Her next film, Band Bajaa Baraat, brought success and she had people lined up for interviews. Today, she has worked with all the Khans and is in the league of superstardom. While she did not become an overnight star, unlike some of her contemporaries, she only chose work that would please her. She has not done too many films but she is still among the top actresses and that matters.

This girl too, was on the wrong side of criticism via her looks but she did not let this affect her. Her role in NH10, also produced by her, changed the perception of her being just a pretty thing. She did have her own insecurities since this is a highly competitive field but she agrees that attitude is more important than reaction. On being a celebrity or having to maintain that status she says, “This idea of celebrity is all just an illusion. The guy standing outside my car right now, selling tea is probably a 100 times more interesting than I am. I’m bloody regular.”