Shah Rukh Khan made more than Samuel L. Jackson, Ryan Gosling and Matt Damon–without a hit in Hollywood.
Bollywood titan King Khan earned $38 million pretax in our scoring period, good enough for the top spot on Forbes inaugural tally of Bollywood’s Highest-Paid Actors. He banks big from starring roles in movies such as Raees, for which he scores upfront fees and a cut of profit. He also pockets millions from lucrative endorsement deals and profitable productions helmed by his Red Chillies Entertainment.
SRK bests second-ranked Salman Khan ($37 million), who demands top rupee for flicks such as Sultan. He retains a slew of advertisements and a not-for-profit line of clothing and jewelry that benefits his Being Human Foundation, which was founded in 2007 following a string of criminal controversy. In 2006, he was convicted in a 1998 case of hunting endangered animals and sentenced to five years imprisonment, though he was acquitted in July 2016; a 2002 hit-and-run car incident which killed a homeless man resulted in a five year sentence, though the Mumbai High Court tossed out the conviction against him in December 2015.
Akshay Kumar (No. 3; $35.5 million) made more than Mark Ruffalo ($13 million) and Ryan Reynolds ($21.5 million) combined. His paycheck is thanks to a busy schedule that saw him appear in five movies in our scoring period–more than many of his fellow listmembers. Besides fees from hits like Dishoom and Jolly LLB 2, Kumar also pulls in seven figures hawking items from deodorant to Eveready batteries.
“Earlier in my life, I wanted to do it for money,” Kumar told Forbes in 2015 of acting. “Now I do it because I love it.”
He edges fourth-ranked Aamir Khan ($12.5 million) who scored a global hit with Dangal. His payday is comprised almost entirely of his cut of profits from the wrestling drama, Forbes estimates, which continues to ticket well worldwide. He will earn even more next year when remaining overseas checks come in. Khan films fewer movies than most Bollywood stars and does not endorse a plethora of products.
Together, Bollywood’s 10 highest-paid actors banked a cumulative $183 million between June 1, 2016, and June 1, 2017, before fees and taxes. Earnings estimates are tracked from June 1, 2016 to June 1, 2017 and based on data from Box Office India, Box Office Mojo and IMDB, as well as interviews with industry insiders. All figures are pretax; fees for agents, managers and lawyers are not deducted.
Women compose just 20% of the ranking, with only crossover stars Deepika Padukone (No. 6; $11 million) and Priyanka Chopra (No. 7; $10 million) making the cut. The top earning actress, Padukone, tallied just 30% what the top-earning actor, Shah Rukh Khan, took home in the same scoring period.
The disparity is due to a pay gap in Bollywood that sees women often secure a fraction of their male costars’ wage. Instead, Padukone hedges by making most of her money from endorsements–a tactic also employed by actresses in Hollywood–advertising for more than a dozen brands from global giant Nike to local cellphone maker Oppo.
Still, change may be on the horizon: Padukone’s upfront fee is on the rise for her lead role in the forthcoming Padmavati, FORBES estimates.
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