Small towns that gave India its biggest Bollywood stars

Nawazuddin Siddiqui used to work on a farm in a village in Uttar Pradesh before making it to the big screen. Or that Anushka Sharma was an army brat who bounced around from small town to small town before fate landed her in Mumbai’s film studios?

It’s safe to assume that Bollywood celebrities hold a special place in the hearts of people all throughout the country, if not the world. Despite the fact that many of the performers on our list are now associated with Mumbai and its film industry, many of them were born in lesser-known cities and villages in India’s distant reaches. Here are the Indian towns that gave us our biggest Bollywood stars, from Belwa to Bhambla.

Anushka Sharma – Ayodhya

Anushka Sharma, who was born into an army family in Ayodhya, is an actor and producer who has established a name for herself in the business through her hard work. Before settling in Bangalore, she spent her childhood as an army kid in various small towns across India. She began her career by walking the runway for brands such as Lakme in Mumbai. Her film debut, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, in 2008, kicked off a string of blockbusters that saw the actor make a name for herself in unusual parts and eccentric as well as popular hits over the years.

Waheeda Rehman – Chengalpattu

Waheeda Rehman is still remembered for her appearances in films such as Kaagaz Ke Phool, Trishul, and Delhi 6. Her native Chengalpattu, Tamil Nadu, instilled in her the culture of her homeland from an early age, when she studied Bharatnatyam and made her acting debut in the Telugu film Rojulu Maraayi.

Parineeti Chopra – Ambala

In her sprawling home in Ambala, Parineeti Chopra grew up eating sugarcane amidst the lush greenery. Even today, the Ishaqzaade actress is known to adore her parents’ vegetable gardens on the estate. She wanted to enter the film industry after seeing her cousin Priyanka Chopra in 7 Khoon Maaf and made her debut in Ladies Vs Rickly Bahl with Ranvir Singh and Anushka Sharma. Since then, she’s made a name for herself in the industry, frequently portraying the happy-go-lucky girl next door.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui – Budhana

Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who was born in the town of Budhana in the Muzaffarnagar region of Uttar Pradesh, has a rags to riches storey on screen. He moved away from his hometown after graduation to attend NSD and make his Bollywood debut in the Aamir Khan starrer Sarfarosh in 1999. His childhood and nearly two decades of backbreaking labour in the UP fields left an indelible impression on him: he is known to wake up at 5 a.m. every morning without using an alarm clock. In films and OTT series such as Black Friday, Peepli Live, Sacred Games, and Gangs of Wasseypur, the actor has played ground-breaking roles.

Vidya Balan – Puthur

The Kahaani starrer has established herself as a powerful female lead capable of carrying a movie on her shoulders. She was born in the Kerala town of Puthur, in the Palakkad district, but her family moved to Mumbai while she was still in school. Although many years have gone, the family connection to this location persists, and Balan returned to this town with her family a few years ago for a shoot for a jewellery company to meet old acquaintances and relive memories.

Arjun Rampal – Jabalpur

Ajun Rampal was born in Jabalpur to a businessman and a teacher, although he began his career as a model for Rohit Bal’s designs in Delhi. After a brief stint in the fashion industry, he moved on to a more permanent role in the film industry, starring in blockbusters like Don, Rock On!!, and Ra. Summer vacations spent at home were brought to life in films like Nail Polish, as the actor drew inspiration from holidays spent with his uncles, both of whom were lawyers.

Manoj Bajpayee – Belwa

Manoj Bajpayee is known all throughout the country for his method acting and portrayals based on everyday people. His ancestors came from a small village in Bihar called Belwa. Days were spent in the fields and school was a thatched roof hut, but on every trip to the city, young Bajpayee would buy a ticket to a movie theatre to satisfy his movie craze. The multiple Filmfare and National Film Award winner completed his education in his home state before attending Ramjas College in Delhi. His enthusiasm in acting drove him to Mumbai, where he battled and fought until Mahesh Bhatt’s Satya gave him his big break.

Pankaj Tripathi – Belsand

Pankaj Tripathi’s childhood in Belsand was devoid of modern conveniences, but rich in river dips, fruit bingeing under tree canopies, and a loving family. Tripathi set out to make a career in the movies while working full-time in the government, with his father’s encouragement. His current filmography includes strong performances in films such as Omkara, Dabanagg 2, Fukrey, and Masaan, as well as breakout roles in OTT series.

Dharmendra – Sahnewal

Dharmendra, the former heartthrob, has starred in action, romance, and drama films. In 1935, a Jat family in Punjab’s Sahnewal town gave birth to Bollywood’s ‘Garam Dharam.’ His passion for Hindi cinema led him to travel from his little hamlet to the Minerva theatre in Ludhiana, and then to Mumbai, where he began a new life. He received the Filmare Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997 after a lengthy and successful acting career that included films like as Sholay, Apne, and Yamla Pagla Deewana.

Kangana Ranaut – Bhambla

Kangana Ranaut was born in Bhabla, Himachal Pradesh, and her pahari roots can still be reflected in the way she dresses and practises her traditions. Her first audience was in the auditorium of the town’s Hill View Public School, where she was performing qawwalis and reciting slokas. Kangana’s dreams were unaffected by her family’s objections to her pursuing a profession in acting, and she went away from home to make it on her own. She moved to Mumbai after an initial stint of modelling in Delhi and slowly but surely built a reputation for herself, with noteworthy parts in films such as Fashion, Tanu Weds Manu, and Queen earning her box office success and critical praise.

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