While actors play a wide range of characters during their careers, only a few become synonymous with them. Indeed, if an actor is remembered for the character he or she played, it is a testament to their exemplary work.

And Bollywood boasts a slew of actors who have immortalised some of the most well-known characters on the big screen.

Here’s a rundown of roles we can’t really imagine anyone else playing.

1. Deepak Dobriyal as Paapi Ji 

We’ve come across a bunch of characters in the “hero ka dost” trope, but none quite like Pappi Ji. By far one of the funniest characters, Dobriyal as Pappi is that friend who would stick by you through thick and thin. The actor’s earnestness and innocence masterfully brought the character to life on screen. He doesn’t miss a single punchline, rendering him the show-stealer of Tanu Weds Manu and its sequel.


2. Paresh Rawal as Babu Bhaiya 

Almost everyone has watched Hera Pheri and is familiar with and fond of Baburao Ganpatrao Apte. Paresh Rawal, another actor who shines in comedic roles, portrays the legendary character. Baburao, played by Rawal, is a never-before-seen character who is both naive and crafty at times. And the actor expertly depicts him in all of his facets in the film. 

Amazon Prime Video

3. Kangana Ranaut as Rani

Every woman who has found her own path into self-realization and self-love can relate to Rani from Queen. Who wouldn’t love a character like that? Kangana Ranaut deserves the greatest credit for bringing the meek, timid, semi-urban Delhi girl to life, who has been groomed to say “yes” to just about everything. But who goes on to discover the joy of saying ‘no’ to others, and yes to herself.

Dichotomy of Irony

4. Priyanka Chopra as Jhilmil 

We’ve often seen Priyanka Chopra in glamorous roles, but seeing her in Barfi as Jhilmil, an autistic girl, was as refreshing as it gets. Anurag Basu, the director, was also unsure if the actor could play the role. But Chopra effectively depicts her character, dispelling any misgivings that may come.

Bollywood Hungama

5. Alia Bhatt as Sehmat Khan 

While Alia Bhatt has given some notable performances throughout her career, Sehmat Khan is one of her most compelling characters. Meghna Gulzar’s film, Raazi, about an Indian female spy, is distinctive in and of itself, and the casting is impeccable. And Bhatt’s performance is as realistic as it gets.

India TV News

6. Sridevi as Shashi 

Sridevi’s portrayal of Shashi in English Vinglish perfectly encapsulates an ordinary Indian homemaker seeking acceptance in her own household. The powerhouse actor, who has featured in numerous iconic films, portrayed a caring mother, a perfect wife, a devout daughter-in-law, and a self-sufficient entrepreneur that we all felt familiar with.


7. Arshad Warsi as Circuit 

Although there was no doubt that Arshad Warsi is a fantastic performer, his OTT ventures have dispelled any apprehension. But, no matter how many characters come after him, the extremely popular and amusing Circuit will always hold a special place in our hearts.

DNA India

8. Omi Vaidya as Chatur 

It takes just as much effort to become the most despised character as it does to become a beloved one. And we detest Chatur with the same ferocity with which we love Rancho in 3 Idiots. Omi Vaidya’s role, however, was written to meet that destiny, and the fact that the actor still managed to shine is a testament to his acting prowess.

Hindustan Times

9. Manoj Bajpayee as Bhiku Mhatre

Manoj Bajpayee has a long list of iconic characters in his filmography. In Satya, Manoj plays Bhiku Mhatre, the head of one of the underworld gangs, a character who devours the protagonist. Only Bajpayee’s outstanding performance makes the hot-headed, loud, and boisterous character appealing.

The Indian Express

10. Kareena Kapoor as Poo

Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham was one of Kareena Kapoor Khan’s early films, and it handed her one of her most popular characters, Poo. The fact that memes and references involving the character continue to pop up across the internet shows the viewers’ fondness for the over-the-top persona. And can we picture anyone else playing Poo besides Kareena? Certainly not!


11. Irrfan Khan as Rana 

Nearly every single role Irrfan Khan has played in his lifetime has been brilliant and everlasting. However, Rana from Piku was unlike anything else he’d done before. He was one of those actors who knew how to make an impact in a brief screen time, and he did so amazingly with this film.

The Newsmen

12. Rajesh Khanna as Anand

There have recently been talks about remaking Rajesh Khanna’s iconic film Anand. The fact that the news didn’t get a single nod of approval is proof enough that fans of Khanna as the protagonist can’t envision anyone else playing Anand.


13. Amjad Khan as Gabbar  

Ramesh Sippy’s Sholay, which was once considered a flop, is widely regarded as one of India’s greatest films. Gabbar Singh, played by Amjad Khan, is still regarded as a villain more famous than the heroes. Gabbar, one of the best-written characters, can’t be recreated, and no other actor can be envisaged in Khan’s place.


If you still have any other characters you believe are immortalised, let us in the comments section.