Sreenivasan, Mukesh, Laalu Alex,Jagadish,Siddique, Innocent,Oduvil Unnkrishnan (Malayalam)
Some names we know but probably Sony Max may never promote a movie by saying 'watch blockbuster Don - starring Iftikar, Sunday 9pm' will they?
So do supporting actors remain supporting actors without being supported? (ok don't support me in my puns!) Well I don't think so. Whoever coined the term did a fab job because its true. They truly do support the actor and not just that. They actually do carry the movie when the script is weakened by the over imposition of the 'superstar' and one man shows kind of movies.
Can you think of Don without Iftikar's balanced,quiet and evolved acting compared to Amitabh's aggressive AYM role? ( that's angry young man in case you didnt know...haww!! ) Iftikar has always been so and probably why he features in most of these AYM roles as the still water to the tsunami which AB's roles were meant to be. Similarily Sanjeev Kumar in Sholay and Utpal Dutt in,well,all his movies.
Imagine Naadodikaatu without Sreenivasan ( actually I still cannot see Lal without him) such is the affect of those golden stuff. Think how Godfather would be without Jagadish's nervous,comical antics which scaffolded Mukesh's attempts to bring Kanika down. What about Shubhayatra where Siddique is like a bookend to Jayaram?
All said and done, the brilliance of such actors is so much that I'm not comfortable calling them supporting. They have carved their identity in singular lead roles too. Vadakku Nokki Yanthram can never be better performed by anyone else other than Sreeni.( imagine Mammootty in front of the mirror applying powder). In Harihar Nagar was an ensemble cast of actors who started out with secondary roles. Saath Saath, Chashme Baddoor and Kisi Se Na Kehna were all better off without the big shots of that time and moreover, needed the calm of actors like Farooque Shiekh.
Just few examples of popular cinema but the shine of these stars are bright like Venus in the evening sky,not overwhelming but you can spot them nevertheless,