Salman Khan, Priyanka Chopra among Variety’s top 500 global entertainment leaders


Bollywood superstars Salman Khan and Priyanka Chopra have made to Variety Magazine’s list of 500 most influential business leaders shaping the global USD 2 trillion entertainment industry.

Other Indians in the list from the entertainment industry include writer-director Karan Johar, Star India CEO Uday Shankar, Essel Group Chairman Subhash Chandra, Aditya Chopra of Yash Raj Films, Balaji Telefilms’ Ekta Kapoor, Zee Entertainment CEO Punit Goenka and Siddharth Kapur of The Film and Television Producers Guild of India Ltd. Billionaire Ambani brothers Mukesh and Anil are also part of the list which features dozens of Indians.

“Variety500 is an index of the 500 most influential business leaders shaping the global $2 trillion entertainment industry,” Variety said on its website. “Updated annually, the Variety500 reflects the accomplishments of its members over the previous 12 months. They were selected by the Variety editorial board, which conducted extensive research for its selections.”

Topping the list is Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Robert Iger, who “has a strong track record for taking savvy risks” with big-ticket acquisitions.

Wanda Media Group Chairman Jainlin Wang, actor-producer Bradley Cooper, Sony Corp Chairman Kaz Hirai, writer J K Rowling, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos, pop star Beyonce, writer and director Patty Jenkins, Megal Ellison of Annapurna Pictures and Youtube CEO Susann Wojcicki also feature in the list.

Salman Khan, Variety said, is one of the unrelated Khan triumvirate comprising Aamir and Shah Rukh that has been ruling the Bollywood box office for decades. Of the top ten grossing films of all time, Salman has three, as does Shah Rukh, while Aamir has four.

“Unlike his contemporary Khans whose fan bases are staid by comparison, every Salman release generates mass hysteria across India, a frenzy surpassed only by the fans of South Indian superstar Rajinikanth,” it said.

On Priyanka Chopra, Variety said she had envisioned an engineering career but changed direction after winning the 2000 Miss World Pageant when she received offers to act in Indian films. Variety’s Derek Elley praised her “solid screen debut” in Bollywood with 2003’s The Hero: Love Story of a Spy.

Later, Chopra moved to US television where she made a strong debut with ABC’s Quantico. The network is also developing a comedy with her to executive produce about a former Bollywood star. Chopra voiced Kaa in 2016’s live-action Jungle Book and starred in the Baywatch film.

Variety further wrote, “Chopra is also active philanthropically and is a global UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Child Rights. She has her own foundation, the Priyanka Chopra Foundation for Health and Education, which helps needy kids.”

On producer Aditya Chopra, Variety wrote, “Aditya Chopra is an enigmatic and influential figure in the Indian media industry that refuses to be voluntarily photographed and yet is responsible for content that influences millions. As a producer, Chopra has the deciding word in the greenlighting process, and this has held true for the 60 odd projects that he has produced.”

Often travelling under the initials DSC, Subhash Chandra has come a long way since arriving in Delhi, age 20, with just Rs 17 in his pocket, Variety said, adding that in a country where family dynasties are the dominant forces, he has made his USD 6 billion fortune on his own.

“That has much to do with political connections he cultivated along the way and to reinventing himself several times over. He was a rice trader and a leisure park operator before moving into media,” it said.