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Passion is greater than anything in this world. Acting is a profession where the actors get their fair share of income. Some of the great actors also turned into co-producers and producers just by putting in a little effort. But it also requires passion to be the best at something.

As a lot of money is invested in a movie project, there were a few times when some actors voluntarily decided to charge almost nothing as their remuneration for the right cause.

Here is a list of the Bollywood actors who worked for almost nothing or a negligible amount, but the movies were successful at the box office,

1. Irrfan Khan – Road To Ladakh

Despite harsh climatic conditions, Irrfan Khan worked in the 38-minute short film Road To Ladakh by the National Award-winning filmmaker Ashvin Kumar for free. The film was later oscar-nominated.

Ashvin Kumar who dropped out of London Film School had no budget to pay the veteran actor. He requested Irrfan to support the film which he did without charging a penny. Ashvin says that he feels cheated with Irrfan’s departure. When approached by a news agency he once said,

“I remember when we were in Delhi before leaving for Ladakh, that evening Bhai had met with an accident. He injured his wrist. He had all the medical reasons to back out as I was not paying him, and he voluntarily supported the film. But he said, ‘I promised you, I will keep my words. The more I got to know him, my respect for him as an individual amplified. He did not know back then that he had high altitude sickness, and we discovered that once we went to Ladakh. He was sick, with an injured wrist, and living under extreme weather conditions inside a tent-like all of us. But he did not give up. He constantly supported us.”

bollywood actors who worked for free
3rd I Film Festival

2. Meena Kumari – Pakeezah

Legendary actress Meena Kumari didn’t charge any money for her last movie Pakeezah, which became a classic.

In 1972 when Pakeezah was released. The actress Meena Kapoor only took Re.1 as a token for her iconic role. Unfortunately, she died a few days after the release of the movie due to liver cirrhosis. Meena Kumari is still loved and known to many people for her mesmerizing role.

Meena Kumari in Pakeezah

3. Shahid Kapoor – Haider

Shahid Kapoor agreed to do Vishal Bhardwaj’s Haider for free to cover the production cost.

Vishal Bhardwaj later opened up regarding the financial issues which were taken care of by him and Shahid Kapoor. He stated that Haider was a film that needed a lot of assets and shooting in Kashmir makes it a lot worse. All the way from lavish pieces to all the cast, it was hard work. He also said they planned to keep it a secret but now it’s finally out.


4. Nawazuddin Siddiqui – Manto 

Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui charged only Re.1 for his titular role in Manto.

In the film Manto, Nawazuddin Siddiqui played an Urdu writer, Saadat Hussain. He decided to play the role in just Re.1. Other actors in the film include Rishi Kapoor, Gurdas Maan, Javed Akhter, Rajshree Deshpande, Swanand Kirkire, and Ranvir Shorey, who did the movie for free. In a statement to IANS, Nandita said,

“This is the character that an actor would give an arm and leg for. But to not charge even a nominal fee is very gracious of Nawaz,”

Nawazuddin Siddiqui manto

5. Deepika Padukone – Om Shanti Om

Deepika Padukone didn’t charge anything for her debut movie Om Shanti Om.

Being her debut film with King Khan itself. Deepika didn’t charge a single rupee for this movie.

Om Shanti Om

6. Rajkummar Rao – Trapped

Rajkummar Rao did Vikramaditya Motwane’s Trapped for ‘free‘. This movie is a classic thriller and is very well acted by Rajkummar Rao. Rajkummar Rao stated that some movies are not meant for the box office, some are meant for life. Vikramaditya Motwane’s Trapped is such a brilliant movie.

Rajkummar Rao - Trapped

7. Salman Khan – Tees Maar Khan, Ajab Prem ki Gajab Kahani, Om Shanti Om, and Son of Sardaar

Being one of the highest paid Bollywood actors in the industry and being such a big star icon, Salman Khan did not charge a single penny for any cameo he has done.

salman khan ajab prem ki ghazab kahani

8. Nawazuddin Siddiqui – Haraamkhor

Nawazuddin Siddiqui charged Re. 1 as a token amount for his film Haraamkhor alongside Shweta Tripathi.

Working as a pro-bono and understanding all the limitations of this film’s budget, Nawazuddin Siddiqui played an excellent role for just Re.1. Guneet Monga the producer of the film Haraamkhor said,

“Nawaz and everyone on the project worked on minimal money or no money at all. Ours is a passion project, and we did everything we could to get the film made. Nawaz loved the script and insisted on working pro bono on the film, understanding the budget’s limitations overall. He was sweet to only charge Rupee 1 from us literally as a token of his efforts. His support and work made the film possible!”

Nawazuddin Siddiqui - Haraamkhor

9. Sonam Kapoor – Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

Sonam Kapoor charged only Rs.11 for playing Biro in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag.

Rakeysh Omprakash shared his thoughts about Sonam Kapoor since they’ve worked together from Delhi 6, he stated in his autobiography that

“Sonam Kapoor benevolently accepted to play a guest appearance for a princely sum of ₹11 only for her brief portrayal of Biro. She chose to accept ₹11. She had a special appearance in the film. Both of us shared an amazing journey with Delhi-6 before that. She told me that she needed just 7 days for the shoot, and she praised us for trying to say something so beautiful about the partition of this country and the spirit of Milkha Singh. So she wanted to contribute to the film as well. It was very nice of her.”

Sonam Kapoor - Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

10. Amitabh Bachchan – Black

Amitabh Bachchan did Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Black for ‘free‘. Big B shared his view in February 2017 when the movie Black completed 12 years at the box office. He shared his thoughts about working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali and working for free.

He said in his blog,

“I had just wanted to work with Sanjay, after seeing all the other works he had done… And when the opportunity came, it was quite overwhelming. I did not take any salary for the film… Just being a part of such an enterprise was sufficient fees!”.

Amitabh Bachchan - Black

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