Bollywood stars and their real names

‘What’s in a name?’, Shakespeare may have said. But some of our Bollywood celebrities are quite serious when it comes to their names. Several actors and actresses have changed their names and adopted new names for various reasons like superstition, numerology or simply for having a more attractive name that will ring with their fans. And this is not a new trend. Even a few of our veteran and yesteryear stars have changed their names.

Following are some of the many celebs who were actually born with a different name:

Tragedy King Dilip Kumar was born Mohammad Yusuf Khan. He adopted the name that went on to be a legend after he signed up for production studio Bombay Talkies. The ‘Ram Aur Shyam’ actor changed his name at the request of actress Devika Rani who was then the owner of the production house.

Another legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan was also named Inquilaab Srivastava. However, in his case, the change of name was not especially for celluloid. Big B’s father renowned poet Harivansh Rai Srivastava who became popular as Bachchan, gave the name inspired by the phrase used during the Independence struggle. He later changed his son’s name to Amitabh on the advice of a fellow poet.

The beautiful actress of the Golden Era, the late Madhubala had also adopted the name for celluloid. Her real name is Mumtaz Jehan Dehlavi and was cedited as ‘Baby Mumtaz’ in films in which she worked as child artiste and also in ‘Neel Kamal’ which was her first lead role. Thereafter, she assumed the screen name of ‘Madhubala’ on the advice of Devika Rani who was impressed by her performance and potential.

Jeetendra is also not the real name of the yester year actor who earned the epithet ‘jumping jack’ for his dance moves. His original name is Ravi Kapoor which he changed after he got his major break in Bollywood with V. Shantaram's ‘Geet Gaya Pattharon Ne’. Initially, it was suggested he change his name to Ravinder Kapoor, but a popular Punjabi hero also had the same name. So, in order to avoid confusion, he opted for the name Jeetendra.

Veteran actress Rekha’s original name is Bhanurekha Ganeshan. She is the love child of Tamil actor Gemini Ganesan and Telugu actress Pushpavalli. She began her acting career as a child artiste and was then credited as ‘Baby Bhanurekha’. She shortened her name to Rekha and dropped her last name when she started doing Bollywood films.

Coming to our contemporary actors, the Khan superstars Aamir Khan, Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan have also modified their names. Born as Mohammed Aamir Hussain Khan, Aamir simply shortened his name. Salman too, like Aamir, shortened his name. He was named Abdul Rashid Salim Salman Khan at birth. Shah Rukh Khan also revealed that his maternal grandmother, who raised him in Bangalore, had named him Abdul Rehman. It was later that his mother changed his name to Shahrukh Khan. He disclosed this on ‘The Anupam Kher Show’ last year.

Dharmendra also modified his name from Dharam Singh Deol before entering films. His sons Sunny Deol and Bobby Deol were also originally named Ajay Singh Deol and Vijay Singh Deol respectively. They also followed their father’s footsteps and changed their names before stepping into Bollywood.

Preity Zinta, the effervescent actress with the lovely dimple also changed her name from Preetam Zinta Singh to a prettier-sounding name. She had described herself as a tomboy as a child, so perhaps, she wanted her name to sound feminine and therefore changed it to Preity Zinta.

Katrina Kaif, when born, was given her English mother Susanna Turquotte’s surname and was called Katrina Turquotte. When Katrina shifted to India, she changed her surname and adopted the family name of her father, Mohammed Kaif, a British businessman of Kashmiri Indian descent. According to her, she changed it because she thought it would be easier to pronounce. Katrina’s parents had divorced when she was a child and the actress is not in touch with her father.

Ranveer Singh belongs to a family of Bhavnanis and was named Ranveer Singh Bhavnani but he dropped his surname as it would have been too long to use for the screen.

The ‘Khiladi’ of Bollywood, Akshay Kumar adopted the stage name. His parents - Hari Om Bhatia and Aruna Bhatia had named him Rajiv Hari Om Bhatia. Similarly, Ajay Devgn, whose real name is Vishal, changed it before making his debut with ‘Phool Aur Kaante’ in 1991.

There are many more actors and actresses who have opted for new names for the screen, and there will be more in times to come.