10+ Famous Buddhist Celebrities in South Indian Cinema | Buddhist actors in Tollywood

Know about some male and female Buddhist actors in Tollywood and South Indian film industry. In this article, we are going to tell you about those South Indian films celebrities, who declare their religious identity as ‘Buddhist’ in public platform and also practice Buddhism.

 इस लेख को हिंदी में पढ़ें 

Buddhist actors in India – The way the stars of Bollywood (Hindi cinema) are liked among people and their name is famous all over the world, similarly the stars of South Indian film industry are also second to none. If we talk about the celebrities of South Indian film industry, then there are many such actresses who have won the hearts of millions of people with their best performance, and their fans are also in the number of millions in the world. Some of these actors and actresses are such who practice Buddhism.

Tollywood includes both Telugu cinema and Bengali cinema. The cinema of South India collectively refers to the four distinct film industries — Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, and Kannada cinema. We are going to tell you about some Buddhist actors in Tollywood and South India, who declare their religious identity as ‘Buddhist‘ in public platform and also practice Buddhism. You will also see these South Indian Buddhist actors in Bollywood films.


Buddhist Actors in Tollywood

1. Paoli Dam

Buddhist actors in tollywood
Paoli Dam – Instagram

Paoli Dam (born 1980) is an Indian actress who started her career with the Bengali television serial Jibon Niye Khela (2003). She is a Bengali Buddhist celebrity, and has acted in many Bengali films and Bengali TV serials. She has also acted in some Hindi movies. Paoli Dam is a Tollywood actress because Bengali cinema is also called Tollywood. Paoli Dam is a follower of Nichiren Buddhism and also adheres to Buddhist philosophy. She gives full credit for her success to Buddhism. She has also introduced her brother to the beautiful and wonderful philosophy of Buddhism.

In an interview in 2012, Paoli Dam said, “Buddhism has been a huge support in my life and whatever I have done till date has only been possible because of my mentor Dr. Daisaku Ikeda and by chanting Nam Myoho Renege Kyo (Glory to the Sutra of the Lotus of the Supreme Law). It brings out my true spirit from within. I have been following this Buddhism for seven years now. Within the initial years of my practice, my life changed completely and new opportunities in my career suddenly opened up. Through Buddhism, I am able to maintain peace and balance in my life. It just feels so good.” (Sources1, 2, 3, 4)



2. Poonam Bajwa

buddhist actors in marathi
Buddhist actors in tollywoodbreezemasti.com

Poonam Bajwa (born 1985) is an Indian film actress and model who appears in Malayalam, Telugu, Tamil and Kannada films. She made her acting debut in 2005 with the Telugu film Modati Cinema, after that she was featured in more Telugu film, such as Boss (2006). Her debut Tamil movie was Seval (2008). She practices Buddhism. Shraddha Das has revealed that another bubbly beauty Poonam Bajwa has introduced her to Buddhism. (Sources1, 2)



3. Chetan Kumar

Chetan Kumar – Facebook

Chetan Kumar (born 1983) also known as Chetan Ahimsa, is a Kannada film actor, public intellectual and socio-political activist. Chetan made his on-screen debut in the 2007 cult classic film Aa Dinagalu and was awarded as the best debut actor in Udaya Film Awards for the film. He and his wife Megha are well educated. They are both Ambedkarites and followers of Buddhism. On the second anniversary of their marriage, they both went to a Buddha Vihara in Bangalore to pay their respects to the Buddha. Chetan often expresses his views on evils like inequality, brahminism, caste system, violence. (Source)



4. Hansika Motwani

Buddhist actors in Tollywood

Hansika Motwani (born 1991) is an Indian actress who mainly appears in Tamil films, alongside Telugu and Hindi films. She made her film debut in Telugu cinema with Desamuduru (2007) and became the recipient of numerous accolades, including a Filmfare Award. Hansika Motwani follows Buddhism and she loves to do meditation daily. She was quoted as saying in an interview, “The best way to effectively de-stress for me is to chant – Nam Myo Ho Renge Kyo, as I strongly follow Buddhism.” Chanting has helped her personally and professionally. Hansika Motwani is one of the famous Buddhist actresses in South India.  (Source 1)


Buddhist Actors in South India

5. Shraddha Das

shraddha das buddhist actress
Buddhist actors in tollywood – Getty Images

Shraddha Das (born 1989) is an Indian film actress, model and singer who appeared in different film industries like Telugu, Hindi, Kannada, Bengali and Malayalam. Shraddha follow Buddhism and she has revealed that another bubbly beauty Poonam Bajwa has introduced her to Buddhism. In an interview, she described herself as a Buddhist.

The lockdown across Maharashtra to combat the second wave of COVID-19 has affected the celebrities as much as the man in the street. Shraddha Das, who is currently in Mumbai, says she’s having a tough time, but Buddhist chants are helping her cope with the situation. “Those 20 days were a test of endurance, and the anxiety took a lot out of me.” Shraddha says she has been practicing Buddhism, and if it hadn’t been for this, she would have gone crazy.  “I chant Nam myoho renge kyo. It gives me peace, strength and makes me stay composed,” she shares. (Sources 1, 2, 3)



6. Akshara Haasan

buddhist actress akshara haasan
Getty Images

Akshara Haasan (Born 1991) is an Indian film actress who has appeared in Hindi and Tamil-language films. She is the daughter of actor Kamal Haasan, and the younger sister of Shruti Haasan. She follows Buddhism and describes it as “a way of life and in an individuals way of life”. Akshara Haasan is a Buddhist Kollywood actress.



7. Pa. Ranjith


Pa. Ranjith (born 1982) is an Indian director and filmmaker who makes Tamil language films. He made his directorial debut with the 2012 romantic comedy Attakathi, before earning unanimously positive reviews for his second film, the political drama Madras (2014). In 2016, he wrote and directed the gangster-drama Kabali and in 2018, Kaala both starring Rajinikanth. In 2021, he directed Sarpatta Parambarai, which was well received by both critics and audiences. He is inspired by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar and the Buddha.



8. Mari Selvaraj

Mari Selvaraj – Facebook

Mari Selvaraj is an Indian film director and author who works in the Tamil film industry. He made his directorial debut with Pariyerum Perumal, which opened to positive reviews and received many awards and accolades. After he paired up with actor Dhanush for a movie Karnan, which opened positive reviews and was successful at the box office in the year 2021. He is inspired by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar and the Buddha.



9. Vanitha Vijaykumar

Buddhist Actress in South India

Vanitha Vijaykumar (born 1980) is an Indian actress who has predominantly appeared in Tamil language films. He has also acted in Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada language films.

Tamil film and television actress Vanitha Vijayakumar is a follower of Buddhism and she converted to Buddhism several years ago. She said that he chose Buddhism for a happier and more peaceful life.

In an Instagram post on 28 March 2022, Vanitha wrote, “I chose Buddhism for a happier peaceful life many years ago…ever since no looking back…(Sources 1, 2)


10. Gavemic U. Ary

Buddhist celebs in India
Gavemic U. Ary (wikipedia)

Gavemic U. Ary is an Indian cinematographer. He was born Hariharan and later converted to Buddhism and changed his name to Gavemic U Ary. He began his career in Indian film productions in the 2000s, when he started working as an Assistant Cameraman under the supervision of cinematographer Santosh Sivan. His first film as a cinematographer was the 2012 independent film Mastram, which followed the journey of a writer, in which he used the Arri Alexa.


11. Sai Dheena

Sai Dheena is a South Indian Buddhist actor
Sai dheena is a Buddhist actor (google image)

Tamil actor Sai Dheena is a Buddhist by religion. He has acted in many films in Tamil cinema including ‘Vada Chennai’ and ‘Theri’. On 10 November 2022, along with his family, Sai Dheena embraced Buddhism by taking Ambedkar’s 22 vows in the presence of the Buddhist monk Maurya. Source

New names are constantly added to this post, and this post is always updated. However, if you think any name should be on this list write it (with references) in the comment box.

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Articles are written on ‘Dhamma Bharat’ in Marathi, Hindi and English:

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