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Prithviraj Kapoor:

Prithviraj Kapoor set out to become a lawyer, but destiny had other plans. The patriarch of the Kapoor family started his acting career from the theatres of Peshawar and Lyllapur (later renamed as Faisalabad). His passion for acting led Kapoor to take a loan from his aunt and move to Bombay in 1928, where he joined the Imperial Films Company.

His first role was that of an extra for the 1929 silent film, Do Dhari Talwar. After acting in nine silent films, including Cinema Girls (1929), where he got his first lead, Sher-e-Arab and Prince Vijaykumar (1930), Kapoor landed a role in the first talkie, Alam Ara. Kapoor is best known for his portrayal of Alexander The Great in Sohrab Modi’s Sikander.

Kapoor’s first love, however, was theatre and he set up the Prithvi theatre, which was a travelling theatre which ran for 16 years. His plays inspired many to join the freedom movement.

10 pre-Independence superstars who shaped Indian cinema

When Dadasaheb Phalke made his first silent feature film, Raja Harishchandra in 1913, little would he have realised that he would be setting the foundations of the world’s largest film industry, which would eventually churn out 1,986 films annually, as of 2017. Since then, through the era of the Silent Movies, and the Talkies, through the Independence struggle and beyond, the Indian film industry has brought out numerous films, many of which have turned out to be huge blockbusters, and has introduced great performers to the world.

Pre-independent India gave the Indian film industry many great artists who broke barriers of gender and religion and enthralled cinema goers with their acting prowess. This Independence week, we take a look at 10 great actors who have helped shape Indian cinema before independence.