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Top 10 Popular & Highest-Paid Kannada Actors

It’s said that more than 100 Kannada movies are produced per year. However, the Kannada films’ box-office collections are not as large as compared to Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu cinemas

Do you know that Kannada films also known as Sandalwood films are released in more than 1000 single-screen cinema halls in Karnataka only? Also, many of them were released in abroad India. Heroes and Kannada heroines steal people’s hearts with their amazing acting skills. 

In this guide, we have prepared a list of the top 10 Kannada actors who ruled the industry with their charming looks and amazing acting skills. 

 List of Top 10 Popular Actors Of Kannada

Here’s the list of the most popular highest-paid actors in Kannada in 2024. 

  1. Puneeth Rajkumar
  2. Darshan
  3. Sudeep
  4. Diganth
  5. Ganesh
  6. Vijay
  7. Yash
  8. Rakshith Shetty
  9. Upendra
  10. Shiva Rajkumar

Let’s understand every possible information of these top 10 Kannada heroes. 

#1. Puneeth Rajkumar

Top 10 Kannada actor

D.O.B: 17 March 1975

Place: Madras (now Chennai), Tamil Nadu, India

Death: 29 October 2021 (aged 46), Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Years Active: 1976–1989 (As a Child Artist)

2002–2021 ( As Adult)

Spouse(s): Ashwini Revanth ​(m. 1999)

Children: 2

Awards: National Film Award

As a child artist, Puneeth Rajkumar won the National Film Award. We include him in the list of top Kannada actors. He is the son of the legendary actor, Rajkumar. As a child artist, he appeared in many films, including Vasantha Geetha (1980), Bhagyavantha (1981), Bhakta Prahaladha, Yarivanu, and Bettada Hoovu (1985). As an adult, he appeared in more than 29 films as the lead character. Like, Abhi (2003), Mourya (2004), Milana (2007), Jackie (2010), Anjani Putra (2017) and so on. He is one of the highest-paid actors in sandalwood. Bear in mind, Puneeth Rajkumar was the first Kannada actor whose 6 movies consistently run 100 days in the theaters. Unfortunately, the versatile actor died on  29 October 2021 when he was just 46 years old. 

#2. Darshan

top 10 kannada heroes

D.O.B: 16 February 1977

Place: Ponnampet, Kodagu, Karnataka, India

Years Active: 1997–present

Spouse(s): Vijayalakshmi ​(m. 2003)

Children: 1

Award (s): Zee Kannada Innovative Film Awards (2010), Filmfare Awards South (2012), Bangalore Times Film Awards (2012), Karnataka State Film Award for Best Actor (2013), Filmfare Best Actor Award (2013), 9th SIIMA Award (2021).

Another top Kannada hero we include in our list. Darshan starts his career in the mid-1990s. During his struggle days, he acted in small operas and small films. In the year 2002, he worked in the Kannada film Majestic in a lead role. During his career, he appeared in many commercially successful movies. Such as Namma Preethiya Ramu (2003), Navagraha (2008), Bulbul (2013), and Yajamana (2019). His acting in Anatharu (2007) and Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna (2012) movies are highly appreciated by the audiences. In 2006, Darshan produced his own production house. 

#3. Sudeep

top kannada actors

D.O.B: 2 September 1973

Place: Shimoga, Mysore State (now Karnataka), India

Years Active: 1997–present

Spouse(s): Priya Radhakrishna ​(m. 2001)

Children: 1

Award(s):  Filmfare Award For Best Actor- Kannada (2002, 2003, 2004), Vijay Award For Best Villain (2013), Filmfare Award For Best Supporting Actor (2013). 

This best actor in Kannada known for his excellent acting in the Kannada movies Huchcha (2001), Nandhi (2002), Kiccha (2003), My Autograph (2006), No 73, Shanthi Nivasa (2007), Mussanjemaatu (2008), Veera Madakari (2009), Kempe Gowda (2011), the Telugu-Tamil bilingual Eega (2012), Maanikya (2014), Ranna (2015), Kotigobba 2 (2016), Hebbuli (2017). His bilingual Telugu-Hindi film Rakta Charita and his appearance in Dabangg 3 movies were highly appreciated by the audiences.  Sudeep is surely on the list of Kannada top 10 heroes. 

#4. Diganth

top kannada heroes

D.O.B: 28 December 1983

Place: Thirthahalli, Karnataka, India

Years Active: 2006–present

Spouse(s): Aindrita Ray ​(m. 2018)

Award(s): SIIMA award for the Romantic Star of South Indian cinema (2013)

Diganth started his acting career with the Miss California movie released in 2006. However, he is known for his acting in the Neethu in Gaalipata (2008) movie. His performance in the movies like Pancharangi (2010), and Parijatha (2012) bring him into the limelight and he became one of the top 10 Kannada actors of all time. Some of this Kannada top actor’s notable works include Kadala Mage (2006), Mungaru Male (2006), Meera Madhava Raghava (2007), Vaana (2008), Manasaare (2009), Wedding Pullav (2013), Happy New Year (2017), and Huttu Habbada Shubhashayagalu (2021). 

#5. Ganesh

Ganesh best actor in kannada

D.O.B: 2 July 1978

Place: Adakamaranahalli, Bangalore Rural, Karnataka, India

Years Active: 2001–present

Spouse(s): Shilpa ​(m. 2008)

Children: 2

Award(s): 54th Filmfare Awards South For Best Actor (2006), Udaya Film Awards For Best Actor (2007), 56th Filmfare Awards South For Best Actor (2008), Filmfare Awards South For Best Actor Kannada (2009). 

Ganesh is one of the highest-paid actors in Sandalwood. He came into the limelight after releasing the film Mungaru Male (2006). The movie collected over Rs, 75 Crore from theatres. Besides, it was the first Indian film that consistently run for one year in any language. After this movie, his fans start calling him Golden Star. This no 1 actor in Sandalwood won two consecutive Best Actor awards for his comedy-drama film Gaalipata (2008) and Maleyali Jotheyali (2009). Some of his other notable work includes Krishna (2007), Cheluvina (2007), Shravani Subramanya (2013), Chamak (2017), Mugulu Nage (2018),  and Orange (2019). 

#6. Vijay

kannada top 10 heroes

D.O.B: 20 January 1974

Place: Kumbaranhalli, Anekal, Karnataka, India

Years Active: 2001-present

Spouse(s):  Nagarathna Vijay (m. 1999)

Children: 3

Award (s): Karnataka State Film Award for Best Actor

Vijay or Duniya Vijay is a popular Indian actor who mainly appears in Kannada movies. Before entering the film world he started his career as a junior film artist. However, his acting in the movies Chanda (2007), Johny Mera Naam Preethi Mera Kaam (2011), Jungle (2009), and Jayammana Maga ( 2013) were highly appreciated by the audiences.  His works in movies like  Mental Manja (2005), Kallarali Hoovagi (2006), Sri Kshethra Kaivara Thathayya (2007), Ee Rajeev Gandhi Alla (2007), Aithalakkadi (2010), Johny Mera Naam Preethi Mera Kaam (2011) make him one of the top 10 Popular Actors Of Kannada. 

#7. Yash

highest paid actor in kannada

D.O.B: 8 January 1986

Place: Boovanahalli, Hassan, Karnataka, India

Years Active: 2004–present

Spouse(s): Radhika Pandit ​(m. 2016)

Children: 2

Award(s): Filmfare Awards South For Best Supporting Actor – Kannada (2008), Filmfare Awards South For Best Actor – Kannada (2013), SIIMA For Best Actor- Kannada (2014), Filmfare Awards South For Best Actor-Kannada (2019). 

Naveen Kumar Gowda, better known by his stage name Yash is one of the highest-paid actors in Kannada. Yash started his career with the film Moggina Manasu (2008). Thereafter he was cast in many commercially successful movies. Such as Modalasala (2010), Rajadhani (2011), Drama (2012), Googly (2013), Raja Huli (2013), Gajakesari (2014), Mr. and Mrs. Ramachari (2014), Santhu Straight Forward (2016) and K.G.F: Chapter 1 (2018).  Yash will appear in the K.G.F: Chapter 2 (2022) movie released in 2022. Yash has been rated as one of the top 10 Kannada actors. 

#8. Rakshith Shetty

Top 10 Popular Actors Of Kannada

D.O.B: 6 June 1983

Years Active: 2010-present

Award(s): 62nd Filmfare Awards South (2015), 2014 Karnataka State Film Awards, 2016 Karnataka State Film Awards, 9th South Indian International Movie Awards.

Shetty began his career as a filmmaker with movies like Let’s Kill Gandhi and many unreleased ventures. However, most of the films are unable to catch viewers’ eyes. Then he decided to enter the film industry and his first movie was  Nam Areal Ond Dina (2012). But his first commercial success movie was Simple Agi Ondh Love Story which was released in the year 2013. In the next year, he appeared in the crime-drama movie Ulidavaru Kandanthe. The movie brought him into the limelight and he won the Karnataka State Film Award for Director’s First Time Best Film and the Filmfare Award South for Best Director. Some of his popular films include Nam Areal Ond Dina (2010), Simple Agi Ondh Love Story (2013), Ulidavaru Kandanthe (2014), and Godhi Banna Sadharana Mykattu (2016), and Avane Srimannarayana (2019). 

#9. Upendra

Top 10 Kannada actors

D.O.B: 18 September 1968

Place: Kundapura, Udupi, Karnataka, India

Years Active: 1998-present

Spouse(s): Priyanka Upendra ​(m. 2003)

Children: 2

Award(s): Udaya Film Awards (1999), 47th Filmfare Awards South (2000), 55th Filmfare Awards South (2008), 56th Filmfare Awards South (2009), 5th SIIMA Awards (2016).

Upendra Rao, popularly known as Upendra started his career as a writer and also worked as an assistant director. He assisted the film director Kashinath in making the film Tharle Nan Maga (1992). In the year 1998, he appeared as a lead character in the A movie. The movie was run for a long time in the box office and helped him win fans’ hearts. Some of his other commercially successful movies are, Upendra (1999), Preethse (2000), Super Star (2002), Kutumba (2002), Gokarna (2002), Hollywood (2002), Gowramma (2005), Aishwarya (2006), Anatharu (2007), Budhivanta (2008), Super (2010), Godfather (2012), S/O Satyamurthy (2015), Uppi 2 (2015), and I Love You (2019). 

#10. Shiva Rajkumar

Top 10 Popular Actors Of Kannada

D.O.B: 11 July 1962

Place: Madras (now Chennai), Tamil Nadu, India

Years Active: 1986–present

Spouse(s):  Geetha ​(m. 1986)

Children: 2

Award(s): NTR National Award (2011), Karnataka State Awards For Best Actor ( 1995, 1996, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006)

Puttaswamy, better known by his screen name Shiva Rajkumar is a television presenter and Indian actor who mainly works in Kannada cinema. Shiva is the eldest son of Kannada matinee idol, Dr.Rajkumar. During his career, Shiva has appeared in more than 120 films. He started his career with Singeetham Srinivas Rao’s Anand movie released in 1986. Bear in mind, Shiva’s first three movies Anand (1986), Ratha Sapthami (1986), and Mana Mechchida Hudugi (1987) earned him the title Hat-Trick Hero coined by his fans and media. During his 34-years long career, he gave many super hit movies. Like as Janumada Jodi (1996), Nammoora Mandara Hoove (1996), Shivalinga (2016), and Tagaru (2018). 

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Wrap Up

From Kannada TV Anchors to top Kannada Heroes, the Kannada entertainment industry always gives something to the fans. In this guide, we have prepared a list of the top 10 Kannada actors whose movies you can watch and spend some quality time with your loved ones. 

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