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CNN's top 25 Asian actors: Guru Dutt, Nargis, Meena Kumari, Amitabh Bachchan and Pran

Bollywood legends Guru Dutt, Nargis, Meena Kumari, Amitabh Bachchan and Pran have been named in the list of CNN's top 25 Asian actors of all time released ahead of the Oscar night Sunday.

With five actors listed, India tops the list featuring actors from India, China, Pakistan, Japan, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Korea.

"In the history of the Academy Awards, only two Asians have ever taken home a Best Actor or Actress statue (we don't count Ben Kingsley as true Asian)," said CNN announcing the list celebrating "the top Asian legends of the silver screen.

"Yet Asia has produced incredibly talented thespians that have changed the course of their nation's cinematic history."

Guru Dutt has been "frequently compared to Orson Welles for directing and starring in films that ushered in a golden era of Hindi cinema. Because of his soulful acting, Guru Dutt's 'Pyaasa' and 'Kaagaz Ke Phool' are now included among the greatest Indian films of all time".

Dutt's best role was listed in "Pyaasa" (1957), a story of a struggling poet in post-independence India, produced, directed and starred by him.

"Amitabh Bachchan's deep voice and broodiness immortalised him as the 'angry young man' of 1970s Bollywood. Although films such as 'Sholay' made him an action hero, he also successfully played comic and romantic leads," CNN said.

Bachchan's best role role is listed as Inspector Khanna in "Zanjeer" (1973) cemented his image as a dark and deep character, triggered to explode.

Pran, CNN said, is "the pre-eminent villain of Hindi cinema, appearing in over 350 films (typically listed last in the opening credits as "...and Pran.") He was equally at ease playing a powerful lord or an impoverished villager. So great is his notoriety as a villain that some Indian parents dare not name their sons Pran."

"Upkaar Upkaar" (1967) demonstrated Pran's versatility and earned him a Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award, CNN noted. He surprised audiences by playing a good Samaritan and singing the chart-topping "Rishte naate pyar wafaa sab".

"From the 1940s to 1960s, the beautiful Nargis starred in many commercially successful as well as critically acclaimed films. Because of her versatility and natural expression, she is regarded as one of the greatest actresses in the history of Hindi cinema," CNN said.

"Nargis stole the show in the Oscar-nominated 'Mother India' (1957), known as the Indian 'Gone with the Wind.' She plays a strong-willed woman, Radha, who survives tragedy after tragedy," CNN noted.

Meena Kumari, the channel noted, is famous for playing grief-stricken parts that mirrored the sufferings in her private life.

Dubbed "The Tragedy Queen", Kumari starred in more than 90 films in a career that spanned from 1939 to her premature death by cirrhosis in 1972. Many of her works, such as "Baiju Bawra" and "Parineeta", are considered classics today, it said.

Meena Kumari's "troubles in 'Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam' (1962) were eerily similar to her own: alcoholism, destructive relationships, the yearning to be understood", CNN said describing it as her best role.

Two actors from Pakistan, Mohammad Ali and Zeba Bakhtiar, have made it to the list.

Zeba also starred in Bollywood film "Heena", a cross-border love story between an Indian boy and a Pakistani girl.

India is followed by China, which has three names in the list Zhou Xun, Gong Li and Ruan Lingyu, the faces of Chinese silent cinema.


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