What’s in a name? The phrase may not hold true in the Indian film industry. Many actors have changed their names or acquired a stage name to make a career in Bollywood. While some cited reasons of privacy, for many others it was about having a catchy name that was easy to get etched in the minds of the audience. The most noticeable factor was that this name change trend was dedicatedly followed in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s era. The newer lot of actors became more open to showcasing their real names unless it were a really long one.
Check out if you knew any of your Bollywood actors real names….
The Retro Era:
Kumudlal Kunjilal Ganguly and Abhas Kumar Kunjilal Ganguly. Confused? They are brothers Ashok Kumar and Kishore Kumar Ganguly, both prominent faces in the Indian film industry gaining legendary status with their stage names.
Guru Dutt – Originally, Vasanth Kumar Shivashankar Padukone. Under his pseudonym, he gave us classics like Kagaz ke Phool, Pyaasa, C.I.D., Chaudvin ka Chaand and Sahib, Bibi aur Ghulam. His life was as short as his changed name, dying at the age of 39 in what could have been an accidental death or suicide.
Dilip Kumar – Born Muhammad Yousuf Khan but changed his name when he took up a career in films.
Jumping jack Jeetendra who bowled us over with his dancing moves in the 70’s and 80’s was originally called Ravi Kapoor.
The first superstar of Bollywood – Rajesh Khanna’s birth name was Jatin Khanna. He switched to the former to make it successful in Bollywood and rest was history.
Mithun Chakraborty was Gouranga Chakraborty before he became an actor.
And now the legend himself – Amitabh Bachchan. When Amitabh was born, his father Harivansh Rai Bachchan named him Inquilab inspired by the slogan ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ during the pre-independence era. He was later re-christened to Amitabh. Their family name was Shrivastava but poet Harivansh Rai adopted the pen name Bachchan for his poems and the name has remained ever since.
Other prominent actors who did the switch are Sanjeev Kumar aka Haribhai Zariwala, Raj Kumar aka Kulbushan Pandit, Manoj Kumar aka Harikrishna Goswami and Danny Denzongpa aka Tshering Phintso Denzongpa
Among the Ladies of that era,
Meena Kumari was Mahjabeen Bano. Under her Pseudonym, she gave us classics like Pakeezah, Majhli Didi, Phool aur Patthar, Dil Apna Preet Paraya and Baiju Bawra.
Nargis was originally Fatima Rashid. With her stage name she worked in many hindi films but is most remembered for cult classic “Mother India”. She married actor Sunil Dutt who starred in the same film as her son. Interestingly Sunil Dutt’s original name was Balraj Dutt.
Madhubala may have had the most beautiful smile but her name was not her original. She was born as Mumtaz Jehan Dehlavi.
Rekha is the stage name and the shorter version for Bhanurekha Ganesan while Jaya Prada’s birth name is Lalita Rani.
Even south superstar Rajnikanth has a real name offscreen which is Shivaji Rao Gaikwad.
Moving to the 90’s, the name change trend continued in Bollywood but the extent was much lesser now.
Ajay Devgan who debuted with Phool aur Kaante in 1991 is known as Vishal Devgan offscreen. According to rumours, he still uses his original name on his passport.
Sunny Deol and Bobby Deol are screen names for Ajay Deol and Vijay Deol. Incidently, the name Dharmendra used by their father is also a stage name for Dharam Singh Deol.
Kumar Gaurav of Love Story, Naam and Kaante fame is known as Manoj Tuli offscreen.
Chunky Pandey’s real name is Suyash Pandey; And Nana Patekar is the stage-name for Vishwanath Patekar.
Akshay Kumar was known as Rajeev Bhatia before he picked up acting as a career.
Mahima Chaudhary embraced her screen name to debut in Pardes. Her real name is Ritu Chaudhary.
Also Priety Zinta’s real name is Preetam Singh Zinta.
Rakhi Sawant’s birth name is Niru. And, Reema Lamba adopted the screen name Mallika Sherawat.
A.R. Rehman was born as A. S. Dileep Kumar. Rehman had a deep sufi religious influence during a family member’s illness and hence he switched to his mother’s religion.
Among the newest lot in Bollywood,
Actor Ranveer Singh who stole million hearts as the charming Bitto Sharma in ‘Band Baaja Baraat’ chose to drop his surname before his launch. Real name Ranveer Singh Bhavnani, the actor admitted on a chat show that he dropped his surname as his name was too long.
(Note: I do not own any of the pictures displayed in this blog. They have been added for Pictorial sake. All text can get boring to read sometimes)