In recent years, South Indian films have emerged as one of the leading genres in box offices as well as on OTT platforms. Their success can be credited to ace productions, big budgets, much-loved ‘masala’ and the most thrilling action sequences – no matter how unrealistic they might be! The plots, too, are well thought out and stray from regular storytelling. Centred largely around high-quality and famous South Indian actors, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam films feature spectacular cinematography and even better sound effects!
Among the plethora of movies available today, the most-loved ones are flicks that feature heroes that are muscular, bold, ready for a fight, and pull all stops to get what they want. They are idolised not just on-screen but in real life too. Case in point: Rajnikanth! So, while we appreciate the makers of the movies every now and then, the heroes too deserve a ton of credit for keeping up with their designated characters so flawlessly. Each of them brings in their own individual flavour – but this list of top 10 south heroes celebrates the names that are reigning supreme right now! Take a look.
Who is the No 1 actor in South India?
Many of us use South Indian cinema as a catchall term for the genre. But what we don’t realise is that the industry is divided according to states, and each of them has its own set of films that are distinct from the rest. The states making up South Indian cinema are Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka. Andhra’s industry is called the Telegu industry, taking after their local language. Tamil Nadu is known for the Tamil industry, Kerala’s is Malayalam and Karnataka’s is the Kannada film industry. All of them take after their native languages. Here’s letting you in on the top south Indian actors from each state and industry.
List of Top 10 South Hero
Tamil Film Industry – Rajnikanth
Rajnikanth’s movie releases are met with throngs of people lining up outside the theatre on the first show of the first day. The fandom doesn’t die down even after the movie has been showcased for weeks. No wonder he makes it to every top 10 south hero list!
While some may deem Rajnikanth as an overhyped actor, his cult following is proof that the man is not just loved – but worshipped by his fans around the world! From specially stylised dialogues to their delivery, his various idiosyncrasies and exceptional stunt sequences are responsible for his name going down in history as the most popular star from the South! His acting and movies are quite versatile, making him a fan-favourite across generations. It also helps that Tamil Nadu is home to some of the most movie-crazy people, and so, when they spot a star, they make sure their love is declared – even if they’re not among the top 10 south Indian actors.
Kannada Film Industry – Yash
With 11 Million Instagram followers to his credit and a fan following that practically exceeds this social media number, Naveen Kumar Gowda, who goes by his stage name Yash, is a star worthy of every applause! If you were wondering, Who is the highest paid actor in South India? then this might be the answer you’re seeking! Shooting to nationwide popularity with his movie K.G.F., which recently had a sequel release too, Yash takes home anywhere between 35CR to 80CR depending upon the movie.
Though Bollywood Hindi Action Movies have their own desirability, no one does it like the south! K.G.F. is one such movie that topped every chart and broke every record – taking Yash’s fame to a whole new level. He is also referred to as the current face of Kannada cinema, and we’re in agreement.
Telegu Film Industry – Prabhas
Ranking among the top 10 south heroes, Prabhas’ earlier films didn’t get that much recognition at the box office, and he wasn’t as celebrated as he is today. The fanfare since his debut has multiplied so much that this Telegu star continues to bag some of the most highly-paid films in Andhra Pradesh.
Also known as Tollywood, the Telegu film industry has given us a megastar in the form of Prabhas! Widely recognised for his role in both of Baahubali’s editions, he is a crowd-favourite and the most handsome south Indian actor. Baahubali, a movie series known for its stellar production, story and cast, still receives acclaim from the biggest critics. Prabhas played the title role and instantly shot to fame with the film’s massive success. He left the audience stumped with a performance of a lifetime.
Malayalam Film Industry – Mohanlal
Mollywood – aka the Malayalam Film Industry – is another sector that produces some of the highest-grossing films in India. Within it, Mohanlal is a name not unheard of. Sitting atop the Malayalam film industry as one of the best south Indian actors, he doesn’t just receive immense praise from Kerala but also from film industries across India. Referred to as the ‘King Of Kerala’, a term coined for him by his fans, Mohanlal’s influence on the audience in the state has been quite significant.
Having worked with some of the best south actresses over the considerable span of his career, he has delivered memorable performances in serious roles. A versatile actor, Mohanlal is also good with comic roles and characters with a mischievous persona. This is why most producers and directors love working with him, as he can instantly adapt to any script, making it his own!
Top South Actors
Now, let’s blur the industry-wise boundaries and delve deeper into the best south actors! We hope you spot your personal favourites on this list of 6 of the top 10 south heroes.
Dhanush’s extremely-catchy song ‘Why This Kolaveri Di?’ became a massive hit across borders, earning him even more acclaim. If this wasn’t enough, might we tell you that this superstar is married to another south superstar (Rajnikanth’s) daughter? If this breaks a few of your hearts, you’re not alone. Dhanush has also appeared in the Bollywood film Shamitabh. He made his movie debut with Thulluvadho Ilamai in 2002.
All of you Hindi movie fanatics will instantly recognise this face and name, owing to the box-office success of his movie Raanjhana, one of the leading Romantic Movies of Bollywood starring Sonam Kapoor. But did you know that he actually hails from the south? Dhanush’s real name is Venkatesh Prabhu, but we all know him by his stage name. He’s definitely one of the top 10 south heroes, having delivered multiple hits during his acting career. Dhanush is also a master of many talents, with professions in playback singing, writing and even as a lyricist.
Son of the popular actor Krishna Murthy, Mahesh Babu is one of the A-List actors of south Indian cinema. He marked his debut as the lead actor in the movie Rajakumarudu. Known to deliver superhits consequently in a row, some of his audience-embraced flicks include Athadu, Okkadu, Dookudu, etc. He is easily among the most popular south Indian actors names. The media, who are also borderline obsessed with Mahesh Babu (because who wouldn’t be?), fondly refers to him as the Prince Of Tollywood.
The actor has around 8.7 million followers on Instagram and a huge fanbase. His eye expressions tend to hold every kind of audience captive, especially the ladies. A hero not just on screen, but in real life too, Mahesh Babu is known to be involved in a number of charity events and initiatives.
Wondering who is the most popular actor in the south? Topping our list of top 10 south heroes, Allu Arjun, is among the highest-paid heroes in the country. But acting isn’t the only thing he does best. This Telegu superstar is loved and looked up to for his exceptional dancing skills, which he puts to great use both on & off the screen. A recipient of several awards and accolades, Allu Arjun serves as an inspiration for many aspiring actors. In fact, he was also featured in GQ as one of the most influential young Indians in 2020. The media also fondly refers to him as ‘Bunny’ in addition to a few other names that highlight his stellar style.
Although he was born in a family closely related to south Indian cinema, he carved his own niche and has emerged as one of the most talked about personalities today.
Often, actors that start out really young – in their childhood days – tend to either fizzle out or grow out of the movie scene. But this hasn’t been the case with Kamal Haasan, who was apparently only 3 years old when he started off by starring in the 1959 film Kalathur Kannamma. When he was officially an adult, he marked his debut through the 1973 film Arangetram. Kamaal Haasan has a career spanning over 50 years. This south superstar has given the industry multiple box-office hits, generating high revenues and bringing in tons of acclaim.
Kamaal Haasan has also been a part of Bollywood Comedy Movies with a romantic spin. His contributions to south Indian cinema remain notable, and he continues to serve with a standout fervour!
One of the top 10 south heroes whose real name is Joseph Vijay Chandrasekhar, Vijay was born in Madras. Vijay kicked off his film career in 1984 by marking his debut through the movie Vetri. His father made it. He then dropped out of college, where he was pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Communication. Switching fields to pursue acting is not uncommon, but there is always a chance that you won’t make it that big. In Vijay’s case though, he only soared!
Vijay is also known and loved for his aversion to lavishly spending on his birthdays. They say that superstars are generally very down-to-earth, and this is proof. Instead, he likes spending it doing social work – especially for kids.
Last but definitely not least on our list of top 10 south heroes is Suriya, one of the highest-paid actors in Tamil cinema with a loyal fanfare. The actor has also worked in a lot of Hindi movies. Versatility and diligence being his top traits, Suriya is renowned for his standout roles. His father, the famous veteran actor Sivakumar, featured in a lot of leading roles over the years and won a lot of acclaim.
Suriya holds a degree in B.Com and worked in the garment industry for a few years before switching to acting full-time. He is also happily married to popular Tamil actress, Jyothika Saravanan. Post his debut in Nerukku Ner in the year 1997, Suriya went on to feature in super-hit films like Singam, Ghajini, Kaakha Kaakha. Suriya has also won 3 Filmfare Awards, South and 3 Tamil Nadu state film awards. He also works at a production house – 2D Entertainment.
Ambitious sets, and even more ambitious stories comprise the whirlwind that is South Indian cinema. For moviegoers and enthusiasts, it is an experience like no other. It’s not just the top 10 south hero names that make or break the movies; it’s also the thrill that the script offers. Sure, they along with the rest of the cast are what see it through, but the amazing direction and larger-than-life visuals also play a significant role.
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