08/27/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Bollywood Stars Compete With Hollywood For The Big Earnings

Forbes annually publishes its top celebrities list based on earnings and visibility. Top Hollywood earners make more than $100 million dollars annually. But how does its Bollywood brethren fair?

Depends on how you calculate earnings. India's most talented earns a tenth of that - according to the list of top income tax payers. India's top four actors paid $10mn in advance tax in 2009. Industry favorite Akshay Kumar paid $4mn in taxes and Bollywood King Shah Rukh Khan paid $3mn. Third on the list is superstar Hrthik Roshan, who paid $2mn followed by Aamir Khan who paid $1.3mn.

If advance tax receipts are accurate, it means that Akshay earned approximately $12mn last year, Shah Rukh Khan earned $9mn, Hrthik Roshan, $6mn and Aamir Khan, $4mn.

However, advance taxes often understate how much Bollywood stars actually pay as they are only an indication of the total income of a person. Bollywood stars have three major sources of income: (1) movies (2) endorsements (3) TV shows. And endorsements, for many, yield much more income than the movies.

Bollywood stars promote anywhere from 10 to 15 products a year and top stars make +$1mn per endorsement. Cola companies line up at the feet of Bollywood Stars with Coca-Cola and Pepsi paying top dollars for an endorsement. Not far behind, are the telecom companies who also shell out big bucks. These endorsements earn Bollywood stars more than movies.

Akshay Kumar endorses approximately 10 products at any given time. Conservatively, from his endorsements alone, Akshay makes $10mn. Add his salary from his movies, which averages $4mn per movie, and he makes an additional $12mn a year (given that he makes +3 movies a year). Finally, like many top bollywood stars, Akshay is on television. He is earning approximately $500k per episode as an anchor on the Indian version of Fear Factor. All in all, he is going to clear $20mn from the reality show for its forty episode run. That mean's Akshay's total earnings are $40mn dollars a year.

But that's not all Akshay earns in India, where Purchasing Power Parity (PPT) means that his earnings go along away. Take the standard PPT ratio of 5:1 and Akshay Kumar earns more than $200mn per year-adjusted dollars - more than any Hollywood Star.

Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan (also known as the King of Bollywood) are the two other movie stars who are doing the Bollywood trifecta: (1) movies (2) TV and (3) endorsements. A similar analysis of Shahrukh's pay would find him earning more than $50mn (in his top years). That's how the King of Bollywood can afford to pay a reported $30mn for a new house in London.

Bollywood stars aren't showing up in the Forbes list, but they should be.

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