Pan-India is a long-existent term that has caught up to people only after the barrier-lifting success of the nation’s highest-grossing film series, ‘Baahubali’How does one define a ‘Pan-India Actor’? Is it someone who makes big-budget movies in a large film industry? Is it someone who can draw all kinds of audiences to the theatres across the nation? Or is it someone who releases their movie in multiple major languages? Well, there’s another definition.‘Pan-India’ is a long-existent term that has caught up to people only after the barrier-lifting success of the nation’s highest-grossing film series, Baahubali. Etymologically speaking, the word ‘pan’ is believed to have its origins in Ancient Greek and Sanskrit, and is associated with Greek & Vedic gods “who delighted & nourished All”. So, in this context, when I say ‘Pan-India Actors’, I’m talking about actors who hailed from a particular region, but have worked across different language industries and appealed to wider audiences of those regions so much so that they owned them as the people hailing from their own land and culture, and not as ‘outsiders’ working in their region.Here’s a list of remarkable individuals who fit this description way before today's era of pan-India stardom.Kamal Haasan:Surely, this ‘Universal Hero’ is the flagbearer of the term ‘pan-India’. Originally hailing from Tamil Nadu, he worked across multiple languages and made his mark as an illustrious ‘Indian’ actor. Beginning his journey as a child artist and after his ‘Arangetram’ as an adult in Tamil cinema, he got his breakthrough in Malayalam with ‘Kanyakumari’. Upon becoming a lead actor under the guidance of his mentor K Balachander, he entered the Telugu film industry with Anthuleni Katha. Then with K Vishwanath and Singeetam’s films, he made a permanent place in the hearts of Telugu. He also debuted in Bengali with 'Kabita' and ventured into Kannada cinema with 'Kokila’. There’s not a soul in India that doesn't know his Hindi cult classics ‘Ek Duje Ke Liye’, ‘Sadma’ or ‘Chachi 420’. Kamal Haasan's command over each language and his adeptness at understanding cultural nuances while embodying his characters endeared him to people across India, making them feel a deep connection with him as if he were one of their own, rather than an outsider. If you look at his 230-films-old career, you’ll agree that his exceptional artistic talent is above and beyond any boundaries or barriers.Sridevi:Known as the ‘First Female Superstar of Indian Cinema’, Sridevi built a massive fan base across Telugu, Tamil, Hindi, Kannada, and Malayalam film industries in her 50-year career. After appearing in several films as a child artist, she received her first big break in Tamil cinema with the film 'Moondru Mudichu' and went on to deliver blockbusters thereafter. In Telugu cinema too, she earned huge fandom on par with that of the superstars and worked with the best actors, filmmakers and technicians across generations. Vetagadu, Premabhishekam, Jagadeka Veerudu Athiloka Sundari, Kshana Kshanam are some of her Telugu blockbusters. In Hindi cinema, she reached new heights with films like 'Himmatwala', ‘Khuda Gawah’, ‘Sadma’, 'Mr India', 'Chandni' & more, and has raised the bar in her second innings with films like 'English Vinglish' and ‘Mom’.When her tragic demise shook the whole nation in 2018, national media referred to her as a Bollywood actress, Telugu media called her a Telugu actress, and Tamil media addressed her as the Tamil actress. Large number of people have turned out to pay their last respects. If she’s living beyond her life even today, then imagine how insignificant are the borders within and of a nation.Jaya Prada:Described as ‘the most beautiful face on the Indian screen’ by one of India’s greatest filmmakers, Satyajit Ray, Jaya Prada became an iconic and influential actress in the late '70s, '80s, and early '90s. Beginning her career in Telugu cinema with Bhoomi Kosam, in which she made a brief appearance as a dancer, Jaya Prada quickly transitioned to playing lead roles and achieved success in the industry with films like Siri Siri Muvva, Sagara Sangamam, Seeta Kalyanam, Adavi Ramudu, Yamagola & more. Tamil audiences applauded her in hits such as 'Manmatha Leelai', '47 Natkal' and 'Ninaithale Inikkum'; She became close to Kannada audiences with films like 'Sanaadi Appanna', 'Huliya Haalina Mevu', 'Kaviratna Kalidasa', and reigned in Hindi cinema with the super duper success of 'Sargam', ‘Sanjog’, ‘Aakhri Raasta’, ‘Tohfa’, etc.Jaya Prada worked across Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Bengali, Marathi languages and even in an Indo-Chinese film. Her popularity became so far and widespread that the people of Rampur constituency in Uttar Pradesh have elected her to represent them in the Indian Parliament.Siddharth:What’s compelling about Siddharth is his ability to create an instant relatability with the audiences of any kind, and maybe his flair for and sincere effort to learn languages plays a crucial role in that. Siddharth chose a career in filmmaking after completing his studies and began by assisting director Mani Ratnam. He made his acting debut in Tamil with Shankar's Boys, followed by Mani Ratnam's 'Aayutha Ezhuthu' (Yuva). Telugu audiences fell in love with his Nuvvostanante Nenoddantana, Bommarillu, Konchem Ishtam Konchem Kashtam, and more.Be it as ‘Karan Singhania’ in Rang De Basanti, ‘Munna’ in Boys, ‘Santosh’ in NVNV or ‘Siddhu’ in Bommarillu, Siddharth easily convinced the audiences of the respective films. He even built a strong rapport with lyricists and literary enthusiasts across the regional film industries. As Artist Edmund De Waal rightly said “With languages, you’re at home anywhere.” Rana Daggubati:Even before his iconic role in 'Baahubali', Rana had already carved a niche for himself, enjoying commendable popularity across Telugu, Tamil, and Hindi cinema. Like Siddarth, he too elicits the feeling of familiarity in the audiences, but because of his brief-but-pronounced roles in the films of other languages. Hailing from a prominent film family, he embarked on a career in cinema and worked behind the scenes before making his acting debut in Telugu with Leader. Shortly thereafter, he ventured into Bollywood, starring in the Hindi movie 'Dum Maro Dum'. Throughout his career, Rana maintained a delicate balance, alternating between Telugu and Hindi cinema, and even made notable appearances in Tamil films such as 'Aarambam' and 'Bangalore Naatkal'.It's not uncommon to spot him at diverse gatherings, whether it be a star-studded party in Chennai, an award ceremony in Mumbai, or a film shoot in Hyderabad. Rana's linguistic prowess is equally impressive and he dubs for himself in all the languages.R Madhavan:Not everyone is aware that Madhavan made his lead debut in cinema with a Kannada film ‘Shanti Shanti Shanti’, before which he appeared in a few Hindi television serials, advertisements and made a couple of guest appearances. However, life took a great turn for Madhavan when he was casted in Mani Ratnam’s ‘Alaipayuthey’ (Sakhi), post which he starred in hit films across multiple languages. Memorable performances in ‘Minnale’ (Cheli), ‘Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein’, ‘Anbe Sivam’ (Sathyame Sivam), ‘Rang De Basanti’, ‘3 Idiots’, ‘Tanu Weds Manu’, etc., cemented his place in the film industries of different languages. He’s one of the few actors who earned fame in different regions with dubbed films, and even before acting in a direct film across the languages.Besides films, his presence on the Television shows and in brand advertisements added to his wide popularity. At one point, when there was a lack of access to information, it was hard for people to tell as to where Madhavan is actually from?Pan-India Appeal of Actors Post-Baahubali:Apart from the above listed actors, other prominent stars such as Rajinikanth, Amitabh Bachchan, Chiranjeevi, Mammootty, Mohanlal, etc., have also made forays into different language film industries, but their primary focus remained on regional cinema, where they became iconic figures in the respective film industries and built a loyal fan base over decades.However, the landscape of Indian cinema underwent a significant transformation with the release of ‘Baahubali’, a magnum opus that wiped out the traditional boundaries between regional film industries, ushering in a new era for actors who aspired to achieve pan-India stardom. This shift, in addition to the rise of OTT, has paved the way for regional stars like Prabhas, Allu Arjun, Vijay Deverakonda, Yash, Dhanush, Dulquer Salmaan, and others, to earn nation-wide fame. Let's see what the future may hold for the evolving definition of a ‘Pan-India Actor / Star’.