Popular actors Jr NTR and Ram Charan have jointly topped the 2022 list of the Top 50 Asian Celebrities In The World. The Pan-Indian stars beat off tough global competition to top the latest edition of the list, published annually by UK based Eastern Eye newspaper.
The Telugu cinema icons ranked ahead of global stars, including from Hollywood, Bollywood, the music industry, television, literature, and social media, for smashing international barriers, breaking records, and blazing an important trail with their worldwide hit movie RRR.
Eastern Eye entertainment editor, Asjad Nazir, who puts together the list explained why the two stars had such a transformative effect in 2022. “RRR lead stars Jr NTR and Ram Charan breathed fire into cinema halls and ignited the kind of interest in commercial Indian films from a cross-cultural audience globally, including international media, not seen before. It led to RRR campaigning in all the major categories for the 2023 Oscars, winning honours like the Spotlight Award from the Hollywood Critics Association and getting two Golden Globe nominations. The heroes also drew attention to regional language cinema in India, which resulted in multiple movie successes away from the commercial Bollywood space.”
Such is their humility, that the down to earth stars chose not to comment on topping the list. The effect they have had on popular culture in 2022 will open multiple paths for others. But both have repeatedly praised one another.
Ram Charan had said: “Apart from working with Mr Rajamouli, the fabulous story and character like this, working with my very good friend and buddy in the industry, Jr NTR was a feather on the hat. I thoroughly enjoyed working with him, it strengthened us and bonded us. I really have a friend for life.”
Jr NTR had expressed on social media that he couldn’t imagine working with anyone else on RRR, and that his character would been incomplete without his co-star, telling Ram Charan, “Thank you for being the fire to my water.”
The top 50 list celebrating Asian stars who shone the brightest in 2022, is based on incredible work, a positive impact, breaking boundaries, shattering glass ceilings, fan attention or being inspiring in their own unique way. There was also a big public input as countless posts were generated by social media users nominating their favourite.
Actor Fawad Khan came in second for his transformative film The Legend Of Maula Jatt, which smashed every Pakistani box office record and set a new bar for the industry. He also made a winning appearance in superhero series Ms Marvel.
Third placed Simone Ashley became the biggest breakout global Asian star of 2023 with her trail-blazing turn in season two of Bridgerton, and for speaking out against colourism, at a time so many top Asian stars endorse skin-lightening creams.
Simone also lit up the red carpet at international events and was named in a global list of leaders defining the next generation.
Fourth placed Alia Bhatt remained the number one actress in Bollywood with multiple movie successes and for signing her first Hollywood film. Fifth placed Iman Vellani flew into the hearts of audiences around the world with her path-breaking portrayal of a teenage Muslim superhero in Ms Marvel.
Sixth place Yash scored a huge Indian movie success with K.G.F: Chapter 2 and put Kannada cinema on the global map. Seventh placed Shreya Ghoshal was once again the highest ranked singer, as she mixed up hit songs in multiple languages with global arena shows. The highest placed TV star is Tejasswi Prakash, for winning India’s biggest reality TV show Bigg Boss and her stunning turn in super hit drama series Naagin 6. International pop sensation Charli XCX is ninth and popular Indian actor Allu Arjun is tenth.
The highest placed author is Shehan Karunatilaka (39), for winning this year’s Booker Prize for his novel The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida. The only social media star to make the list is content creator Faisal Shaikh (36), who also entertained audiences on multiple reality TV shows this year.
A dramatic shift in popular culture was illustrated by a distinct lack of Bollywood stars, who made the top 50 list. “In the past a list like this would be dominated by Hindi cinema stars, but this year only six were included. This illustrates the terrible time Bollywood is going through, from box office failure to negativity from audiences across social media. Meanwhile, the opposite is happening in all other fields from regional Indian cinema to Hollywood and social media, with top talents reaching great heights. It shows Bollywood has to significantly raise its game and that there are great things happening in all other areas of popular South Asian culture globally,” said Asjad Nazir
The oldest star in the list is 80-year-old Amitabh Bachchan (30) and the youngest is 19-year-old actress Sumbul Touqeer Khan (44).
Second placed Fawad Khan was named sexiest male celebrity of the year and Nia Sharma (27) was given the title of hottest Asian female.
Others in the 2022 list include Mindy Kaling (11), Atif Aslam (13), Riz Ahmed (17), Rashmika Mandanna (19), Arijit Singh (21), Kartik Aaryan (23), Sophia Ali (24), Priyanka Chopra Jonas (26), Kumail Nanjiani (28), Vijay (33), Samantha Ruth Prabhu (35), Arooj Aftab (38), Anoushka Shankar (43), Humayun Saeed (45), and Asees Kaur (50).