Eastern Eye celebrates the amazing individuals with the annual countdown of the top 50 global Asian stars
A GROUND-BREAKING year in entertainment saw glass ceilings shattered, greater heights conquered, creative horizons expanded, and new paths carved globally.
There was also ground-breaking work, international crossovers, and exciting new talent announcing their arrival. Top south Asian talent from diverse fields were at the forefront of the marvellous moves being made and blazing a trail for others to follow.
Eastern Eye celebrates the amazing individuals with the annual countdown of the top 50 global Asian stars.
50. Zeenat Aman: Social media has undoubtedly become the strongest connecting point between the public and celebrity culture. The star who stood out on social media above all others in 2023 was the legendary actress with her amazing Instagram posts, filled with candid confessions, stylish photos, amazing real-life stories, inspiring thoughts and fantastic archive images.
49. Simran Balar Jain: Some of the most watched content is created exclusively online. No content creator was more important or original than the taboo-busting Indian social media star. By creating videos on uncomfortable conversations about topics like sexual health, which Asians have always steered clear of, she provided important education that had been missing.
48. Bilal Abbas Khan: The naturally gifted star had another year of dazzling audiences with standout turns in acclaimed serials Kuch Ankahi and Ishq Murshid. One of Pakistan’s hottest young talents showed off his remarkable range as a performer and connected strongly with crossgeneration audiences. His fan base continued to grow with all the success and accolades.
47. Chetna Maroo: It was another strong literary year filled with great books from talented authors globally. A standout moment came when the British Asian writer’s first novel, Western Lane, was shortlisted for the prestigious Booker Prize. Described as a debut of immense poise and promise, it received rave reviews and heralded a bright new voice in the literary world.
46. Ahir Shah: The British Asian comedian has impressed with winning live performances and TV appearances. He came of age with his stand-up special Ends, which made history and won best comedy show at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. He combined remarkable storytelling with humour and emotion in one of this year’s best live shows, which led to sell-out performances.
45. Mawaan Rizwan: The British comedian balanced a strong live presence with delivering a path-breaking BBC sitcom, Juice. He wrote and starred in the series about a young gay Londoner who is often overwhelmed by the world. The game-changing comedy introduced the kind of south Asian protagonist not seen before on TV and increased representation admirably.
44. Sumbul Touqeer: The youngest star on this year’s list has connected with a new generation in a way that no other Indian actress has in recent years. That relatability has already given the 20-year-old two title characters in hit serials, which includes her latest outing in Kavya – Ek Jazbaa, Ek Junoon. She very much represents the future of her country.
43. Tabu: The actress continued to be called upon by producers wanting to add gravitas to their movies. A standout moment for the 52-year-old actress was one of this year’s best performances in the acclaimed film Khufiya. She also added to her many honours with a Filmfare best actress (critics) award for Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2.
42. Ahad Raza Mir: The Pakistani actor followed up a role in the 2022 series Resident Evil with a winning appearance in the British drama World On Fire. He showed great presence in the Second World War series and opened more doors for Pakistani stars in the west. He was described as a new heartthrob by the western media.
41. Anoushka Shankar: From magnificent music releases that took classical Indian music across new horizons to stunning live performances around the world, the sitar maestro mesmerised audiences throughout the year. The impressive symbol of girl power also received two further Grammy nominations and remained one of the most important voices in world music.
40. AP Dhillon: The Canadian singer has been redefining Punjabi music ever since he broke through and inspired others to follow in his trail blazing footsteps. Another year of hit songs like With You offered a new listening experience. He continued to cross cultural barriers and remained one of the hottest draws on the live circuit.
39. Geraldine Viswanathan: The Australian actress continued her amazing American adventure with more Hollywood projects. This included starring roles in the movies Cat Person and The Beanie Bubble, as well as the TV series Miracle Workers. She also signed new projects, which broke more ground for colour-blind casting.
38. Hadiqa Kiani: The pop icon turned actress had another action-packed year that ranged from a winning performance on the powerful TV drama Hadsa to the stunning single Jani Door Gaye. The most impressive was the 51-year-old’s humanitarian work, which included building 370 homes, two mosques, a maternity centre and a grocery store in flood-ravaged Pakistani villages.
37. Shazad Latif: The actor showed his leading man credentials in the cross-cultural romantic comedy What’s Love Got To Do With It? He also headlined the forthcoming underwater series Nautilus, as Captain Nemo. The versatile talent worked on exciting projects like the neo-noir film Magpie and joins a growing list of British Asians making a huge mark internationally.
36. Armaan Malik: The most fan-friendly celebrity on the planet had another year filled with fantastic musical moments. He showed off his impressive range by delivering songs in a wide array of genres, styles and languages. By mixing up movie songs with standalone singles, he offered the kind of variety that few other singers were able to match.
35. Amitabh Bachchan: The legendary star remains the oldest in the annual list and keeps showing everyone that age really is just a number. The 81-year-old continued to mix up movies with hosting India’s most popular quiz show, Kaun Banega Crorepati. He remained massively popular on social media and got the kind of love others could only dream of.
34. Zakir Khan: The greatest Hindi-language stand-up comedian in the world delivered a history-making performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The first-of-its-kind show at the world-famous venue was sold out and ended with a record-breaking standing ovation. The Indian funny man delivered impactful shows globally and another stunning streaming site special.
33. Ali Fazal: A stunning year saw the actor play an impactful role in the action thriller Kandahar opposite Gerard Butler and a rogue spy in the acclaimed Indian espionage drama Khufiya. The versatile Indian performer also signed up to star in an off-Broadway theatre production and commenced work on season three of his super-hit web serial Mirzapur.
32. Yumna Zaidi: The Pakistani actress shone brightly this year and broke records with her hit drama serial Tere Bin. The rapidly rising star also received a well-deserved acting award for her 2022 series, Bakhtawar. She also saw her already strong fan base grow even further and is now one of the most in-demand stars in her country.
31. Ritu Arya: The Surrey-born actress added to her Hollywood successes like the hit web series The Umbrella Academy. The biggest highlight was a lead role in the British action comedy Polite Society. She also popped up in the Barbie movie and joined an international cast on the forthcoming action series Paris Has Fallen.
30. Harshad Chopda and Pranali Rathod: It was always going to be difficult to follow in the footsteps of two incredibly successful generations on the iconic TV drama Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlta Hai, but both stars rose to the challenge. It is impossible to separate them, as they became arguably the most popular on-screen pairing on television in 2023.
29. Simone Ashley: Last year’s biggest breakout star continued getting plenty of global attention in 2023, including fabulous red carpet appearances, flashy photoshoots, and a fast-rising fan base. She also appeared in the Hollywood film The Little Mermaid and worked on the third season of the hit web series Bridgerton. She broke more cultural barriers along the way and is now also a fashion favourite.
28. Vir Das: The greatest English-language stand-up comedian to ever emerge from India consolidated that position with a history-making International Emmy award. The in-demand comic embarked on a mammoth world tour and crossed more cultural horizons. He has inspired an exciting wave of Indian comics to follow in his giant footsteps.
27. Dev Patel: The actor added to his boundarybreaking work with multiple roles in the starstudded short film The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. He broke further ground for colour-blind casting by shooting for the horror film Rabbit Trap and being cast opposite Olivia Colman in the fantasy-romance Wicker. He also put the finishing touches on the superhero film Monkey Man, which he has written, produced, directed and starred in.
26. Maitreyi Ramakrishnan: Her hit series Never Have I Ever may have come to an end in 2023, but it has laid the foundation for a big Hollywood career for its lead star. With a fast-growing crosscultural fan base, the powerful role model and youth icon has a lot to look forward to, including her debut film, Netherfield Girls.
25. Jr NTR: The top Telugu star made a huge impact during the Hollywood awards season, while promoting his blockbuster hit RRR and generating international headlines. He signed major movies, like the hotly anticipated sequel, War 2, opposite Hrithik Roshan. He also bagged projects with hit directors Koratala Siva and Prashanth Neel, which will make him unstoppable.
24. Arooj Aftab: The singer and musician added to her history-making achievements in 2022, which included a Grammy award, with more awesomeness. This included Grammy award nominations in 2023 and another two for 2024. The New York-based star’s Love In Exile, was arguably the best album by a south Asian artist this year.
23. Kamal Haasan: After an explosive return with the blockbuster 2022 hit Vikram, the 69-year-old was connected to more high-profile forthcoming films than any other major star in 2023. This included the hotly anticipated sequel Indian 2, Thug Life with ace director Mani Ratnam and the Prabhas starrer Project K. The cinema icon also has Vikram 2 and projects with other major filmmakers.
22. Anil Kapoor: The Peter Pan of Indian cinema had another prolific year, which included the Bollywood blockbuster success Animal and the hit web series The Night Manager. He also worked as a producer and popped up on international platforms. The 66-year-old showed more star power, style, and charisma than actors half his age in the film industry.
21. AR Rahman: The music maestro delivered fabulous soundtracks in diverse languages and won awards. At a time when Indian composers seemed to have run out of ideas, he kept listeners of all ages entertained with hit songs and live arena performances. He remained the only musician to fully connect with pan-Indian audiences.
20. Lilly Singh: Whether it was hosting high-profile TV projects or acting alongside the iconic Muppets characters in a web series, the Canadian comedian carried on being a ground-breaking sensation. She mixed that up with a strong social media presence, speaking about important issues and launching an exciting new drama series.
19. Deepika Padukone: From blockbusters like Pathaan to appearances on the red carpet, flashy photoshoots and presenting at the Oscars, the stunning Bollywood queen once again ruled the hearts and minds of film fans. She also worked on multiple high-profile projects that will continue her rule as Hindi cinema’s most in-demand actress in 2024.
18. Gippy Grewal: The singer-turned-actor is now a powerful movie producer and scored a huge global success with Carry On Jatta 3. He skillfully mixed up music with acting assignments and helped take Punjabi popular culture to great global heights. With a stack of movies on the way, he has become a major power player.
17. Sajal Ali: The popular actress marvellously mixed up projects on multiple mediums, which included an English language film debut in What’s Love Got to Do with It? She also starred in the acclaimed TV drama Kuch Ankahi and the web serial The Pink Shirt. The stunningly talented performer carried on being that much-needed female role model in Pakistan.
16. Sunny Deol: The Bollywood hardman made a successful return to the big screen after many years in the wilderness with the blockbuster hit Gadar 2. The action sequel exceeded all expectations and reinvigorated the 66-year-old’s career. It got him films like the Aamir Khan-produced Lahore and put him firmly back in the spotlight.
15. Rupali Ganguly: The hit Indian drama Anupamaa carried on being one of the most watched shows globally and crossed 1,100 episodes in 2023. A major driving force behind that fabulous success has been the terrific title character played by the fantastic actress. The 46-year-old continued to show an ageist industry that an older actress can carry a show to great glory.
14. Mindy Kaling: The mastermind of diverse serials like Never Have I Ever, The Sex Lives of College Girls and (the animated) Velma ruled on multiple fronts. The Hollywood power player showed off her writing, acting, and producing talent on projects that helped increase diversity. She was also appointed a board member of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art.
13. Arijit Singh: The top male singing star in India had another year of being one of the most listened-to artists on the planet. The most streamed Indian artist on Spotify for a third year in a row mixed up hit songs in multiple languages while playing sell-out shows in big stadiums, all the while remaining humble, relatable, and real.
12. Tejasswi Prakash: Whether it is audience figures or social media heat, Indian TV stars continued to dominate, and Tejasswi remained at the forefront. A winning performance in Naagin 6 helped turn it into the most successful series of the hit franchise. A brave approach enabled the top talent to draw attention, which included headlining a Marathi movie and winning awards.
11. Riz Ahmed: The British Asian actor did everything from speaking about important issues to adding to his impressive body of work. He provided the voice for a path-breaking character in the acclaimed animated movie Nimona. There was praise for his movie Fingernails, which add ed a new dimension to the romantic genre. He signed prestigious projects and created more space for south Asians in Hollywood.
10. Iman Vellani: The Pakistani-born Canadian actress followed up a dynamic debut as a teenage Muslim superhero in the hit web series Ms Marvel with a big screen debut this year. Pathbreaking movie The Marvels increased south Asian representation in global blockbusters. She smashed open the doors to Hollywood and became seriously hot property.
9. Wahaj Ali: The highest-placed Pakistani had a prolific year that included the acclaimed TV dramas Jurm, Mujhe Pyaar Hua Tha and 22 Qadam. The fan favourite showed off his impressive versatility on diverse projects, which also included the web series The Pink Shirt. His romantic drama Tere Bin became one of the most viewed of all time across multiple platforms and confirmed him as a shooting star with one of the fastestgrowing fan bases.
8. Vijay: The ice-cool Tamil movie icon generated the most heat for south Indian cinema with the hit movies Varisu and Leo. The actor, affectionately known as Thalapathy Vijay, delivered two of the year’s finest performances and once again got global attention without seeking it. One of this generation’s biggest superstars continued to be a positive role model and generated excitement by starting work on his hotly anticipated next film.
7. Shreya Ghoshal: The undisputed queen of Indian music had another amazing year of live performances in global arenas, stunning songs and setting a high singing standard for others to follow. The versatile mega-star also became a judge on the iconic reality TV show Indian Idol and added to her trophy haul with a fifth National Award. She once again proved why she is known as queen Shreya.
6. Ranbir Kapoor: The popular actor generated huge attention all throughout the year. He balanced out the romantic comedy Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar with this year’s best performance in the super hit movie Animal. The fierce action-drama rampaged across the global box office and savaged other films, including major Hollywood blockbusters. Many now agree that this has become a major turning point for one of the finest all-round talents working in Hindi cinema today.
5. Charli XCX: The biggest musical force with a south Asian heritage in the western mainstream delivered hit single releases, cool collaborations, and huge live performances, including being a headliner at this year’s Coachella festival. She also contributed songs to high-profile films, including Barbie, and signed a major recording contract for two more albums. The pop princess remained popular on social media and was a strong symbol of girl power with her fearless approach.
4. Diljit Dosanjh: The multi-talented sensation has been going at top speed with a successful music and film career. In 2023, he hit an even higher gear with pathbreaking performances at the Coachella music festival and western mainstream songs, including a duet with Sia. The films, songs, live performances and path-breaking collaborations confirmed him as the biggest Punjabi star on the planet. With bigger projects on the way in multiple mediums, he will keep powering ahead.
3. Priyanka Chopra Jonas: The most famous Indian celebrity on the planet had another memorable year. This included starring in the mega-budget Amazon Prime series Citadel, which was renewed for another season, and headlining the Hollywood film Love Again. She mixed up acting with diverse business interests, endorsements, social media splendidness, red carpet finery and philanthropy. The strong role model also dropped truth bombs, had a strong presence internationally and kept showing that anything is possible.
2. Alia Bhatt: Marriage and motherhood couldn’t stop the crown princess of Bollywood. The actress scored a success with the hit Bollywood film Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani and made an impactful Hollywood debut with the action entertainer Heart of Stone. She also won all the major best actress awards for her stunning performance in the hit 2022 film Gangubai Kathiawadi and launched further projects, including her next home production, Jigra. Various business ventures and being one half of a power couple with Ranbir Kapoor, also made her shine.
1. Shah Rukh Khan: The iconic star reclaimed his crown as the king of Bollywood with the blockbuster hits Pathaan and Jawan. The global juggernauts re-established him as the biggest box-office draw in Hindi cinema and gave an industry that had been in deep decline a much-needed boost. He will round off 2023 with the year’s most anticipated movie Dunki, which is directed by Bollywood’s best filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani, and is expected to break further records. He will become the first Hindi film actor of the modern era to score three super hits in a year. The superstar shone the brightest and eclipsed everyone else with his brilliance. That is why he deserves to top this year’s list.