The most powerful indians in 2009: 96-100
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96. Rajnikanth, 58
He is god to his fans, a phenomenon for millions. If his last film, Kuselan, bombed at the box office, it was because the audience didn't get enough of him—he played a cameo. With a pay cheque of around Rs 15-20 crore, Rajni was said to be the highest paid Indian actor in 2006. Now, he's paid Rs 40 crore per movie, plus distribution rights in a few markets.
"Not even God can save Tamil Nadu if Jayalalithaa comes back to power," he thundered in 1996, adding wind to the then anti-AIADMK tide and leading the DMK-TMC combine to electoral victory in state elections.
His fanatic followers continue with their demand that he enter active politics. Some even floated a party on his behalf, with the flag and insignia carrying his image. His film-in-progress, Enthiran, is being made at a cost of Rs 150 crore—that makes it the most expensive Indian movie ever.
97. Akshay Kumar, 41
Inane comedies become box office hits when Akshay Kumar stars in them. He gets Rs 50 crore a film as fee plus profit percentage. Of all Bollywood stars, Akshay Kumar has paid the highest advance tax of Rs 19 crore.
The producers were so sure of Akshay Kumar's star power that for Singh Is Kinng—in which Akshay rapped with Snoop Dogg—they did away with the outdoor publicity and hoardings, a first for any Bollywood film.
What nextAkshay plays a negative character in Blue, which is based on a deep sea treasure hunt. Then there is Priyadarshan's De Dana Dan and Nagesh Kukunoor's 8 by 10. Last heard, Carmen Electra is coming to jig with him for the film Kambhaqt Ishq.
98. BKS Iyengar, 90
Hailed as one of the greatest living masters of yoga, he is responsible for introducing yoga to the West. Iyengar yoga is the most widely practised form of yoga in Europe and America today.
Iyengar gave yoga lessons to Elisabeth, the octogenarian Queen of Belgium, making her stand on her head. He also did a demonstration for the former Soviet Union premier, Nikita Khrushchev. With Iyengar schools in over 250 cities, Yogacharya counts Michael Richards and Annette Bening among his followers.
Into his ninth decade, he continues to practise yoga on a daily basis—he can stand on his head and stay in that position for half an hour. His daughter Geeta and son Prashant are carrying forward his legacy.