BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom — Bollywood – India’s bustling film industry – has become an intrinsic feature of South-Asian culture and has made Mumbai (formerly Bombay) into a movie capital that rivals Hollywood. Bollywood actors and actresses have become well-known global figures, with the industry producing around 1,000 films and selling four billion movie tickets each year. Many of the biggest stars in Bollywood utilize their public platform and wealth for philanthropic causes including the founding of charitable organizations, donating to relief funds and endorsing charitable campaigns. Here is a list of the philanthropy of Bollywood Stars
Shah Rukh Khan
Arguably one of the most popular names in Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan has acted in almost 100 films across the last three decades, as of 2022. Khan’s philanthropic efforts are as impressive as his acting achievements, most notably with his founding of the charitable organization, Meer, in 2013. The Meer Foundation describes its mission to “protect and empower women” and provide support and rehabilitation for female victims of crime, particularly acid attacks, in India. Shah Rukh Khan donated around $25,000 toward relief provisions after a flood in Kerala in 2018 and during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Meer Foundation donated 2,000 PPE kits to front-line workers.
Actor Salman Khan, another of Bollywood’s heartthrob heroes, established Being Human – The Salman Khan Foundation in 2007. The charitable organization works to develop education and health care provisions for underprivileged children in India. The Foundation set up Educational Resource Centres in Maharashtra in 2014 that have provided education to around 310 children in the local community. In 2013, Salman Khan’s foundation provided more than 2,500 water tanks to communities in Maharashtra during a period of extreme drought where many people were faced with starvation and thirst.
While he may be a more understated actor compared to other personalities in this list, Rahul Bose is one of the Bollywood philanthropists who has become best known for his social activism. In 2007, Bose started his own non-profit organization, The Foundation, which is focuses on “the removal of discrimination from all walks of life.”
Through The Foundation, Bose helped to provide resources and relief to victims of the tsunami in Andaman and Nicobar Islands in 2004. The Foundation launched REACH in 2006, providing educational scholarships for children from low-income families in India. In 2008, Bose joined 12 other prominent public figures to support the In My Name campaign, standing against global poverty and became the first international ambassador from Asia for the charity Oxfam.
Described by Forbes magazine as “Bollywood’s top-earning star” and “one of India’s most philanthropic celebrities,” Akshay Kumar is a big name in Indian film. Kumar’s charitable donations include 1 crore in Indian rupees as flood relief funds in Assam in 2020, as well as a further 1 crore relief funds to help victims of Cyclone Fani in Odisha in 2019.
Former Miss India, model, actress and activist, Gul Panag is another of the Bollywood philanthropists who has founded a non-profit organization to carry out philanthropic work. Named after Panag’s grandfather, The Col. Shamsher Singh Foundation operates with a philosophy of giving back to the community, with the program Gul 4 Change focusing on issues of education, employment, gender equality, the environment and disaster management.
As part of the program, the organization offered over 1,000 vocational scholarships in association with the ITFT Education Group. Gul Panag signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the health department in Chandigarh, pledging to help eradicate drug addiction by raising awareness and supporting the rehabilitation of patients.
Alongside a very successful acting career in Bollywood and across international film productions, Anupam Kher has built a strong reputation for his charitable work. Kher carries out his philanthropy most prominently through the Anupam Kher Foundation which he established in 2008. The Mumbai-based charitable organization aims to maximize future opportunities for children from less privileged backgrounds. Aiming to fight the effects of abject poverty on children, the Foundation drives initiatives such as the School of Life program to improve the quality of education provided to underprivileged children. Kher’s Project Heal India initiative provides relief and support across India for various challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic during which time the foundation produced and distributed medical equipment.
While India’s acting stars are well recognized in the realm of film, fashion and entertainment, the philanthropy of Bollywood stars is often overlooked. The actors listed above provide an impressive example of the inspiring charitable work carried out by some of India’s most wealthy entertainers in order to improve the quality of life for people facing poverty, inequality and deprivation.
– Sophie Sadera