Top 10 South Indian Actors of All Time

Indian cinema is growing and helping to leave a mark at the world level. India produces thousands of movies in a year and one of the biggest contributors after Bollywood is South Indian movies. There are many South Indian actors helping Indian culture to reach the world level with the help of cinema.

There are many actors in India but some actors are phenomenal. In this article, we will share with you the top 10 South Indian actors of all time. So without wasting more time, let’s begin.

10 South Indian actors of all time 

  1. Arjun Das

Indian actor Arjun Das primarily appears in Tamil movies, while he also does a few Telugu movies. His most popular performance was as Anbu released in Kaithi (2019), in which he played an antagonist, a gang boss, and a cocaine addict. In Lokesh Kanagaraj's Master, he also made an appearance as Das, the movie's second hero. 

Arjun debuted as an actor in 2012 with a suspense thriller movie, Perumaan. Before entering into the film industry, he was employed in Dubai as a banker. Arjun recalls being overweight and dropping about 36 kg (79 lb) in preparation for his career in Tamil film. 

His most recent film is the supernatural thriller Andhaghaaram, in which he plays the title character Vinod, a coach who is an alcoholic and a smoker who is troubled by guilt over his friend's mental health. His next movies include Dhruva Natchathiram, in which he voiced the antagonist, and Kumki 2, in which he plays a character with "shades of grey."

  1. Allu Arjun

South Indian actor Allu Arjun is primarily recognized for his roles in Telugu movies. In addition to being a highly-paid actor in India, he is renowned for his dance abilities. He has received multiple honors, including three Nandi Awards, six Filmfare Awards, and a National Film Award. Allu Arjun made his debut with Gangotri in 2003 and rose to stardom acting in Sukumar’s cult masterpiece Arya (2004) for which he garnered a Nandi Special Jury Award. 

Since 2014, he has been listed among Forbes India's Celebrity 100. His noteworthy motion pictures include DJ: Duvvada Jagannadham (2017), Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo (2020), Arya 2 (2009), Vedam (2010), Julayi (2012), Race Gurram (2014), S/O Satyamurthy (2015), Rudhramadevi (2015), Sarrainodu (2016), and Pushpa: The Rise. Allu Arjun is one of the top 10 South Indian actors of all time.

  1. Mahesh Babu

Mahesh Babu is another south Indian actor, producer, philanthropist, and media figure who primarily works in the Telugu film industry. He has appeared in almost 25 films so far, he has received numerous honors, including one IIFA Utsavam Award, five Filmfare Telugu Awards, four SIIMA Awards, three CineMAA Awards, and eight Nandi Awards. In addition, he is well-known for his charity and humanitarian endeavors, having co-managed the non-profit organization ‘Heal A Child’.

On August 9, 1975, Mahesh Babu was born in Madras, Tamil Nadu, India (now Chennai). He is the fourth of Telugu star Krishna and Indira's five children. At the age of four, Mahesh made his feature film debut as a child artist in Needa (1979). He went on to act in eight more movies as a child artist. 

He made his debut as a lead actor with Rajakumarudu (1999) which won him the Nandi Award for Best Male Debut. Babu's debut came from the action movie Okkadu (2003) and the eerie drama Murari (2001). After that, he continued to act in additional financially successful movies, including Businessman (2012), Dookudu (2011), Athadu (2005), Pokiri (2006), Arjun (2004), Seethamma Vakitlo Sirimalle Chettu (2013), and Srimanthudu (2015).

  1. N. T. Rama Rao Jr

Indian actor Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao Jr., commonly referred to as Jr. N.T.R. or Tarak, primarily performs in Telugu movies. He was born in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh (now Telangana), India, on May 20, 1983. He is the grandson of N. T. Rama Rao Sr., the famous Telugu matinee idol and former chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, India.

In the 1991 film Brahmarshi Viswamitra, Jr. N.T.R. made his debut as a young artist. The film was directed and starred by his grandfather. His breakthrough roles came in the action drama Aadi (2002) and the coming-of-age film Student No. 1 (2001). He made his lead acting debut in Ninnu Choodalani (2001). Simhadri (2003), Yamadonga (2007), Adhurs (2010), Brindavanam (2010), Baadshah (2013), Temper (2015), Nannaku Prematho (2016), Janatha Garage (2016), Jai Lava Kusa (2017), Aravinda Sametha Veera Raghava (2018), and RRR (2022), the latter being his highest-grossing release, are just a few of the commercially successful films in which he has acted.

  1. Prabhas 

Uppalapati Venkata Suryanarayana Prabhas Raju, better known by his stage name Prabhas, is an Indian actor who primarily performs in Telugu films. He has been on Forbes India's Celebrity 100 list since 2015 and is among the highest-paid actors in Indian film. Prabhas has received numerous honors, such as nominations for seven Filmfare Awards, a Nandi Award, and a SIIMA Award. For some of his great performances, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that he is one of the top 10 South Indian actors of all time.

On October 23, 1979, in Madras (now Chennai), Tamil Nadu, India, Prabhas was born. His breakout performance came in the action romance Varsham (2004) after he made his acting debut in the drama Eeswar in 2002. Among his best-known films are Chatrapathi (2005), Bujjigadu (2008), Billa (2009), Darling (2010), Mr. Perfect (2011), and Mirchi (2013), for which he received the Nandi Award for Best Actor. 

The epic action movie Baahubali: The Beginning, directed by S. S. Rajamouli, is the thirteenth highest-grossing Indian film to date. Prabhas played the titular role in the film. Later, in 2017, he returned to the part in Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, the first Indian film ever to make over ₹ 1,000 crore (US$155 million) in its whole in just ten days. After doing such great movies, he is considered one of the finest actors in India.

  1. Rajinikanth

Actor Rajinikanth, real name Shivaji Rao Gaikwad, is from India and primarily works in Tamil movies. He has acted in over 169 movies in multiple languages like Malayalam, Bengali, Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, and Kannada productions. Most people agree that Rajinikanth is among the most well-liked and prosperous performers in Indian film history. He is one of the top 10 South Indian actors of all time.

Rajinikanth was born on December 12, 1950, in Bangalore, Mysore State, India. In the 1975 Tamil film Apoorva Raagangal, helmed by K. Balachander, he made his acting debut. After that, he played adversarial roles in Tamil movies before becoming a lead actor. He won praise from critics for his significant positive roles as a rejected lover in S. P. Muthuraman's Bhuvana Oru Kelvi Kuri (1977), Mullum Malarum (1978), and Aval Appadithan (1978). 

The former won him a Tamil Nadu State Film Award Special Prize for Best Actor. He had worked in every South Indian film industry by the end of the decade and had made a name for himself in Tamil cinema. Then, in the 1980 action movie Billa, a version of the Hindi film, he portrayed two characters. He played many more great roles.

  1. Vikram

Actor Vikram, real name Kennedy John Victor, is Indian, mostly employed in Tamil films. He has acted in more than 25 movies and received multiple awards, including a National Film Award, a Tamil Nadu State Film Award, and seven Filmfare Awards South. 

Following his big break as a rebel turned romantic in Bala's drama film Sethu (1999), Vikram made his feature film debut in the romance En Kadhal Kanmani (1990). He then went on to star in popular movies such as Dhill (2001), Gemini (2002), Dhool (2003), Saamy (2003), Anniyan (2005), Raavanan (2010), Deiva Thirumagal (2011), and Iru Mugan (2017). Additionally, he received high praise from critics for his portrayals of underprivileged characters in the films Pithamagan (2003), Samurai (2002), and Kasi (2001); the latter film garnered him the National Film Award.

Among the most honored performers in Tamil film, Vikram has received honors such as the Popular University of Milan's honorary doctorate in May 2011 and the Tamil Nadu government's 2004 Kalaimamani Award. He is the first actor from India to be awarded a doctorate in acting from a European university. In 2016 and 2018, Vikram was listed in Forbes India Celebrity 100 based on the revenues of Indian celebrities.

  1. Kamal Haasan 

Kamal Haasan is a South Indian actor, filmmaker, screenwriter, playback singer, TV host, social activist, and politician who hails from India and primarily works in Tamil cinema. He has acted in more than 169 movies, including Bengali, Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, and Kannada productions. On December 12, 1950, he was born in Bangalore, India's Mysore State. In 1960, Kamal Haasan made his acting debut in the Tamil film Kalathur Kannamma, for which he was awarded the President's Gold Medal. His big break as a leading man came in the K. Balachander-directed drama Apoorva Raagangal (1975), where he portrayed a young rebel who falls in love with an elderly lady. 

In Moondram Pirai (1982), he played a guileless school teacher who takes care of a woman who has retrograde amnesia, and for that role, he earned his first National Film Award. He further gained immense acclaim for his performances in Sagara Sangamam (1983), Swathi Muthyam (1986), Nayakan (1987), Pushpaka Vimana (1987), Sathyaa (1988), Apoorva Sagodharargal (1989), Gunaa (1991), Thevar Magan (1992), Nammavar (1994), Mahanadhi (1994), Indian (1996), Hey Ram (2000), Aalavandhan (2001), Anbe Sivam (2003), Virumaandi (2004), Vettaiyadu Villaiyadu (2006), Dasavathaaram (2008), Vishwaroopam (2013), and Vikram (2022).

  1. Vijay Sethupathi 

Indian actor and producer Vijay Sethupathi primarily works in Tamil cinema. On January 16, 1978, he was born in Rajapalayam, Tamil Nadu, India. Actor Sethupathi has acted in more than 25 films and received multiple awards, including two Tamil Nadu State Film Awards, a National Film Award, and two Filmfare Awards South. He has also contributed to films in the languages of Kannada, Hindi, Malayalam, and Telugu.

Before landing his first lead role in Thenmerku Paruvakaatru (2010), Sethupathi began his film career as a background actor, playing small supporting parts. 2012 saw him become well-known with Sundarapandian, Pizza, and Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom. '96 (2018), Chekka Chivantha Vaanam (2018), Petta (2019), Master (2021), Vikram (2022), Kadhalum Kadandhu Pogum (2016), Iraivi (2016), Vikram Vedha (2017), Soodhu Kavvum (2013), Idharkuthane Aasaipattai Balakumara (2013), Pannaiyarum Padminiyum (2014), and Vikram (2022). He was the recipient of the 2019 National Film Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as a trans woman in Super Deluxe. Vijay is a very fine actor and one of the top 10 South Indian actors of all time.

  1. Pavan Kalyan

Actor, politician, filmmaker, martial artist, and philanthropist Pawan Kalyan, full name Konidela Kalyan Babu, is predominantly involved in Telugu cinema. He has acted in more than 25 movies and received multiple awards, such as a National Film Award, a Tamil Nadu State Film Award, and seven Filmfare Awards South. 

After making his acting debut in the 1996 movie Akkada Ammayi Ikkada Abbayi, Kalyan became well-known for the dramas Suswagatham (1998) and Gokulamlo Seeta (1997). His portrayal in Tholi Prema (1998), which took home the National Film Award for Best Telugu Feature Film that year, catapulted him to fame. Leading roles in films like Thammudu (1999), Badri (2000), Kushi (2001), Balu (2005), Jalsa (2008), and Gabbar helped Kalyan develop his career.


Sudeep Singh Rawat
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Sudeep Singh Rawat

Meet our versatile writer, Sudeep Singh Rawat, a dedicated enthusiast of both movies and sports. With a keen eye for detail, Sudeep Singh Rawat expertly dissects cinematic and athletic spectacles. From thrilling game analyses to thought-provoking movie reviews, trust Sudeep Singh Rawat to deliver insightful content that bridges the gap between these two dynamic worlds.

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