Navin Nischol: The late actor is most remembered for playing the caring elder brother in 90's sitcom Dekh Bhai Dekh. But, he actually began his career as a lead star, and on a promising note with hits like Sawan Bhadon (1970) and Buddha Mil Gaya (1971) before losing his way completely.
Kiran Kumar: The son of late actor Jeevan, Kumar did quite a few major roles in Hindi films at the start of his career. They include Jangal Mein Mangal (1972), Jalte Badan (1973) and Free Love (1974). His career, however, nosedived, and while he went on to become a superstar in Gujarati cinema, he remained a sidekick in Bollywood.
Aruna Irani: The actress, who plays elderly characters on television these days, was a popular vamp in the 70's. At the same time, she played the leading lady in Bombay To Goa (1972) and Garam Masala (1972). However, her career as a leading lady never took off. Like Kumar, she also became a superstar in Gujarati cinema; in fact, their pairing was most popular at one point. As far as Bollywood is concerned, she was confined to supporting roles.
Shoma Anand: Remember Ashok Saraf's adorably annoying loud wife in the sitcom Hum Paanch? Anand actually featured in a few lead roles in the 70s and 80s, and looked quite ravishing back then. She actually made her debut as a leading lady in Barood (1976) opposite Rishi Kapoor, in which she even donned a bikini, which was considered a bold move back then. Shoma was also the lead actress in Mithun Chakraborty-starrer Patita (1980).
Helen: The actor most remembered for her cabaret and vampish characters, did indeed play lead roles in a few films – namely Cha Cha Cha opposite Chandrashekar in 1974, Immaan Dharam opposite Amitabh Bachchan in 1977 and Lahu Ke Do Rang (1979), as Vinod Khanna's love interest.
Anil Dhawan: The actor, who is known for playing fatherly characters on the small screen, played the lead in many off-beat films of the 70s – Chetna (1970), Annadata (1972) and Piya Ka Ghar (1972). The evergreen song Yeh Jeevan Hai Is Jeevan Ka was, in fact, picturised on him and Jaya Bachchan.
Suresh Oberoi: In most of his movies, Suresh Oberoi either played the secondary villain or a positive supporting character. But, in 1980, he got an opportunity to showcase his skills as the lead hero. In Vinod Pande's social drama Ek Baar Phir, Oberoi portrayed the role of a popular film star, with Deepti Naval played his wife.
Zarina Wahab: Aditya Pancholi's wife actress Zarina Wahab made an impression as the beautiful leading lady in Chitchor (1976) and Gharonda (1977). She soon shifted focus to the south and, over the years, did numerous supporting roles in films and television.
Prem Chopra: Much before scaring the hell out of audiences with his devilish acts, Chopra played one of the central characters in the 1965 patriotic film Shaheed. While Manoj Kumar was expectedly Bhagat Singh, Chopra played Sukhdev.
Siddharth Ray: Remember the inspector from Baazigar (1993) on whom the popular song Chupana Bhi Nahi Aata was picturised? He actually played one of the leads in the forgettable 1992 flick Vansh. The grandson of legendary filmmaker V. Shantaram, he passed away in 2004, following a massive heart attack, at the age of 40.
Sudesh Berry: He was the other hero in Vansh and played the lead in yet another film, Yudhpath (1992). Both flopped miserably, following which Berry had to be content playing supporting characters in war films like Border (1997), Refugee (2000) and LOC Kargil (2003).
Farida Jalal: One of the most adorable dadis (grandmother) of Bollywood, Jalal had a brief stint as a leading lady. She was Rajesh Khanna's heroine in Aradhana (1969) and also played the main female character in the 1974 film Jeevan Rekha.
Ayub Khan: Being Dilip Kumar's nephew, he got a chance to play the lead in a number of films early in his career – Mashooq (1992), Salaami and Khilona (1996) among others. However, he just couldn't make it big. These days, he is doing a noteworthy job playing supporting characters on television.
Aditya Pancholi: He has mostly played forgettable side roles in Bollywood over the years, but back in 1990, he got the chance of starring as the main lead opposite Madhuri Dixit in Sailaab. The film did average business at the box office, and all credit for the same went to Madhuri. Pancholi's aspirations to become a lead hero received a major setback.
Sachin Pilgaonkar: Forever remembered for his two-minute act as Ahmed in Sholay (1975), Sachin played the hero in a handful of films in the 70s and 80s. They included Geet Gaata Chal (1975), Balika Badhu (1976), Ankhiyon Ke Jharokhon Se (1978) and Nadiya Ke Paar (1982).
Danny Denzongpa: He has made a name for himself playing the suave villain in many films. Back in 1973, he starred as a psychopathic killer in Khoon Khoon, the remake of Dirty Harry. True, this was also a negative role, but it was a film that centred completely on Danny, and the versatile actor pulled off the role in élan. Wonder why he never got more such meaty roles.
We have been used to seeing them in supporting roles and villainous characters, but do you know these actors have also played central characters in films? Have a look