12 Celebs Who Served The Armed Forces Before Joining Bollywood

12 Celebs Who Served The Armed Forces Before Joining Bollywood View All Articles

Posted On: 26 Mar 2020 | Last Updated: 20 Aug 2021


It is not surprising that many of our celebs take up odd jobs for a living before realizing their Bollywood dreams. Celebs who make it big reveal what they had done before becoming a star for each has a story of their struggle to narrate which invariably inspires us. However, what may surprise many of us is that quite a few famous celebs had joined the Indian armed forces and donned the uniform before joining Bollywood. Don’t believe us, then read on to find out which famous Bollywood celebs served the armed forces before joining Bollywood.


1. Madan Mohan (Music Director)

Bollywood music is incomplete without mentioning the name of Madan Mohan. Madan Mohan was born only to compose songs. Before foraying into Bollywood, he joined the Army in 1943 as a Second Lieutenant and served for two years until the end of World War II. He quit the army to head towards Bombay to pursue his musical interest in 1946. Initially, he joined the All India Radio and later got his first break as a music director in Devendra Goel’s Aankhen in 1950. He went on to score music for films in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, which include hits like Adalat, Anpadh, Gazal, Haqeeqat, Woh Kaun Thi, Mera Saaya, Heer Ranjha, etc. His association with Lata, Mohd. Rafi, Asha Bhosle and Talat Mahmood remain unforgettable.

Madan Mohan (Music Director)

2. Khayyam (Music Director)

Renowned music director Khayyam, whose career spanned four decades in Bollywood, too had served the army during the Second World War. After serving 3 years in the army, Khayyam came to Mumbai to fulfill his dream of working in the Hindi film industry. He initially went by the name of Sharmaji who was a part of the Sharmaji-Varmaji composer duo who composed music for Heer Ranjha in 1948. Post partition his partner, Rahman Varma moved to Pakistan and thereon he retained his original name, Khayyam. As solo music director, his first break was Biwi in 1950 and thereafter composed for Footpath and Phir Subah Hogi. His other noted works were for films like Kabhi Kabhie, Trishul, Noorie, Umrao Jaan, Bazaar and Razia Sultan.

Khayyam (Music Director)

3. Anand Bakshi (Lyricist)

One of Bollywood’s most prolific lyricists, Anand Bakshi too had served in the armed forces (Royal Indian Navy) back in the year 1944. If one tries to recall the top 10 Bollywood celebrities who served the Indian army, the name of Anand Bakshi is bound to pop up. Due to partition, he had to quit Pakistan and traveled to Delhi where he joined the Army and served in the corps of Signals and thereafter shifted to the corps of E.M.E. He took premature retirement in 1956 and headed to Mumbai in search of a job in Bollywood as a lyricist and singer. After a struggle of two years, he got his first break as a lyricist in Bhagwan Dada’s Bhala Aadmi in 1958 where he got four songs to write. It took him another 6 years and 51 films before he became a top-notch lyricist, which included superhit films like Himalay Ki God Mein, Jab Jab Phool Khile, Milan, Aradhana, Aan Milo Sajna, Amar Prem, Bobby, Karz, DDLJ, etc.

Anand Bakshi (Lyricist)

4. Rehman (Actor)

Known for his roles in films such as Pyar Ki Jeet, Badi Behen, Pyaasa, Chaudhvin Ka Chand and Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam, Rehman had joined the Royal Indian Air Force in 1943 after receiving training as a pilot in Pune. The job in the Air Force did not appeal to him and soon left for a career in films at Bombay. After assisting director Vishram Bedekar initially, he got his first break as an actor in Chand in 1944. His first major hit as a lead was Pyar Ki Jeet opposite Suraiya. The mid-60s and 70s saw him playing supporting roles, which included films like Waqt, Intaquam, Aap Ki Kasam, Chacha Bhatija and Rajput.

Rehman (Actor)

5. Ravi Chopra (Producer - Director)

Not many know that son of doyen filmmaker B.R. Chopra, Ravi Chopra had served in the army as an officer in the corps of E.M.E. He served as a short service commissioned officer before quitting as a captain to assist his father and uncle (Yash Chopra) in filmmaking. Ravi made his directorial debut with Zameer in 1975, which starred Amitabh Bachchan, Saira Bano, Shammi Kapoor and Vinod Khanna. He later directed movies like The Burning Train, Mazdoor, Baghban and Baabul and the epic TV serial Mahabharat along with his father.

Ravi Chopra (Producer - Director)

6. Colonel Kapoor (Col. Raj Kumar Kapoor) (Actor)

Colonel Kapoor’s claim to fame was making the TV series titled Fauji in 1989, which marked the debut of Shah Rukh Khan on the small screen. Colonel Kapoor served his full term as an officer in the army before joining Bollywood as an actor and producer. Known for appearing in supporting roles, he made his acting debut in Chetan Anand’s Hanste Zakhm in 1973 and later appeared in films like Dostana, Angoor, Inteha, Jawab and Dillagi. He also produced the Rajesh Khanna starrer Oonche Log in 1985.

Colonel Kapoor (Actor)

7. Achyut Potdar (Actor)

Achyut Potdar is a familiar face in Bollywood films and TV serials. Known more for playing elderly character roles, he joined the Indian army after quitting his job as a university professor. After a short stint in the army, he quit as a captain in 1967 and went on to join the Indian Oil Company where he simultaneously started doing theatre. He made his Bollywood acting debut in 1980 by appearing in Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyoon Aata Hai and Aakrosh followed by Sazaye Maut in 1981. His other famous films include Tezaab, Ishq, Lage Raho Munna Bhai, Dabangg 2, Ferrari Ki Sawaari and 3 Idiots.

Achyut Potdar (Actor)

8. Bikramjeet Kanwarpal (Actor)

Bikramjeet Kanwarpal served as a Major in the Indian army before joining Bollywood as an actor. He was commissioned into the army in 1989 and retired in the year 2002. Coming from an armed forces background, his father too was in the army and a recipient of the Kirti Chakra. Bikramjeet made his debut in a small cameo in Pooja Bhatt’s Paap in 2003 and later went on to do supporting roles in films like Corporate, Don, Om Shanti Om, Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge, The Ghazi Attack and Saaho. He died due to Covid complications on 30 April 2021.

Bikramjeet Kanwarpal (Actor)

9. Jack Gaud (Actor)

Known for supporting roles, especially as the main villain's henchman in several Hindi films, Jack Gaud had served in the Indian Navy for some years before heading to Bollywood. Making his debut with Insaaf Kaun Karega in 1984, he is remembered more for his roles as Mukut Bihari in Tezaab, Shamsher Singh in Karan Arjun and as Fracture Bandya in Vaastav. He had also played the lead in Jungle Ka Beta, which he produced as well. His other known works were in films like Beta, Lootere, Saajan Chale Sasural, Judwaa and Koyla.

Jack Gaud (Actor)

10. H. G. Dattatreya (Actor)

If one talks about the top 10 Bollywood actors who served in the armed forces and later joined films it would surely include the name of H. G. Dattatreya who impressed everyone as Ananth Iyengar, the Structural Engineer in the Akshay Kumar starrer Mission Mangal (2019) had served in the Indian Air Force as an officer for over 20 years. As a Wing Commander, he occupied academic positions in HAL before turning towards films. Predominantly known for his work in Kannada cinema, Dattatreya began acting in plays in the late 50s and 60s while studying in Engineering College in UVCE. He has bagged many State and National awards for his performances including the Karnataka State Film Award for Best Actor for Munnudi in 2001.

H. G. Dattatreya (Actor)

11. Nazir Hussain (Actor, Director & Screenwriter)

Yesteryear actor Nazir Hussain who was considered as the Pitamah of Bhojpuri cinema had served in the British Army during World War II. After being freed as a prisoner of war, he joined the Indian National Army led by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. After India gained independence Nazir joined New Theatres to assist Bimal Roy in Pahela Aadmi in which he not only acted but also co-wrote it. His notable works remain in Do Bigha Zamin, Devdas, Naya Daur, Paying Guest, Jewel Thief, Kati Patang, Amar Akbar Anthony, etc.

Nazir Hussain (Actor, Director & Screenwriter)

12. Dev Kumar (Actor, Writer)

Chamanlal Kohli, better known by his screen name Dev Kumar had served in the Indian Army for a few years and then later joined the police force and customs anti-smuggling before joining films. Well-built with a strong voice and big frame, Dev Kumar made his screen debut in the 1965 film Shahi Raqasa and followed it up as the main lead in Mere Lal in 1966. He later shifted to playing negative characters in the 70s while some of his notable films were Balidaan, Lalkar, Gora Aur Kala, Manoranjan, Saazish, Khel Khel Mein, Dharam Veer, etc. Dev was also a motivational speaker at many events and often wrote poetry by the pen name of Falak Dehalvi.

Dev Kumar (Actor, Writer)