Pran - the name that spelled 'danger' on screen during the golden era of Indian cinema, the actor who continues to inspire generations after generations finally at the age of ninety three gets his biggest souvenir the Dadasaheb Phalke Award - the highly coveted and the most prestigious award given by the Union Government to a veteran of the film industry.
A wise man once remarked 'it's better late than never' and truly the veteran name was in the running for the last few years. At last the recognition has come as a crowning glory to this 93 years old versatile living legend's highly illustrious 67 year old acting career story..
What made Pran a 'cult' figure amongst the industry and the masses was his 'lion' hearted approach towards life, his simplicity and concern towards his colleagues, friends and family which was in complete contrast to his characters which he played on screen.
Not only villainy. Pran mastered the art in character roles too.. the range of characters in Jangal Mein Mangal, Sadhu Aur Shaitan, Isi Ka Naam Zindagi, Karz speak volumes of his versatility..
An actor by chance Pran Krishan Sikand was born on 12 February 1920 in Ballimaran,Kotgarh Old Delhi, after school Pran had a desire to be photographer he joined A. Das & Co., as an trainee.
This job took him first to Shimla, where he played the role of Sita in a local staging of "Ramlila". Rama was played by Madan Puri.
A chance meeting with the writer, Wali Mohammad at a paan shop in Lahore led to Pran winning his first role in Pancholi's Punjabi film Yamla Jat (1940). Wali Mohhammad was impressed by the way Pran ate his paan. Directed by Moti B. Gidwan, the film featured Noor Jehan and Durga Khote. Followed by small roles in the film Chaudhary and Khajanchi, Pancholi cast him again in Khandaan (1942), which was the first Hindi film in which Pran became a romantic hero, opposite Noor Jehan,
Pran went on to act in 22 films from 1942-46 in Lahore and of them 18 got released by 1947.
Partition brought him to India and the struggle for the 22 films year old actor began in Mumbai.. Writer Saadat Hasan Minto and the top vamp of those days Kuldeep Kaur were of great help to Pran in his struggle days in Bombay.
Pran worked in Delmar Hotel, Marine Drive and eight months later, in 1948, writer Saadat Hasan Manto helped him in getting a role in Bombay Talkies' Ziddi which starred Dev Anand and Kamini Kaushal. Ziddi turned out to be a big game changer in Dev Anand's career and Pran too was noticed..
Pran who used to ask for daily expenses during the filming of Ziddi later turned out to be the first and the only superstar villain of Hindi cinema.. His presence added value to the film. Pran was a contemporary of the three greats of Hindi cinema of those times Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand. He played the villain opposite these heroes in numerous films. The biggest banners of that era had either thespian Dilip, the showman Raj or the evergreen Dev as the hero but the villain facing them was invariably Pran.
Pran appeared with Dev in "Munimji," "Amar Prem," "Jab Pyaar Kisise Hota Hai" and "Johny Mera Naam." With Dilip Kumar he appeared in "Azaad," "Madhumati," "Devdas," "Dil Diya Dard Liya" and "Ram Aur Shyam."
With Raj Kapoor, he appeared in "Aah," "Chori Chori," "Chhalia," "Dil Hi Toh Hai" and he is unforgettable as the dacoit Raka in "Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai."
Pran mostly played the 'Shaarif' (gentleman) Badmaash who had the intention to marry the heroine..
Such was his charm as a villain that parents were fond of naming their sons Raj, Dilip, Dev, Ashok or Kishore, but nobody wanted to name their sons as Pran. Pran use to take it as a token of appreciation of his work.
Manoj Kumar transformed Pran's profile as an actor with the role of the wandering lame minstrel Malang in "Upkaar." Prakash Mehra added new versatility with the role of Sher Khan in "Zanjeer" and he paired with Ashok Kumar in the comic caper Brij's "Victoria No. 203."
Off screen Pran is a true gentleman cordial, friendly with a caring heart and hand. He did Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia launch pad 'Bobby' (1973) for just 1 rupee for Raj Kapoor. Raj Kapoor's Mera Nam Joker flopped and he was going through a rough patch. Pran acting fees during that times was next to Hindi cinema's first superstar Rajesh Khanna..
With his good friend Ashok Kumar he did Victoria no.203 without a proper script.. they both use to enact the scenes with their own inputs to complete the makers deadline..
Pran was a man of principle and respected good art.. he refused to accept the Filmfare in 1972 for his role as a constable in Be-imaan. As a protest against the neglect of the publication for recognizing the outstanding genius of Ghulam Mohammed for the music of Pakeezah.. Filmfare found musical duo Shankar Jaikishan for Be-imaan as the deserving winners. Today's top names in Bollywood may think many times before daring to do this.. After this incident Filmfare turned a blind eye to the achievements of Pran in the acting department.
There are many incidents which speak in volumes of Pran's goodness and strong character off screen.. this one is the major highlight.. when Bobby turned out to be a big success Raj Kapoor gave a cheque of Rs one lakh to Pran which he refused.. (he already did the film in 1Rupee and his price was more than one lakh).
There are growing speculations whether Pran who is not keeping well nowadays may or may not be able to travel to Delhi to receive the award from the President at the award function to be held in the capital on May 3. But he is Pran the sher jaan who is endowed with a tremendous will power. He attended Amitabh Bachchan's birthday celebration on a wheel chair. Hopefully, he makes it for the awards ceremony in Delhi as well.
Pran's recognition for the Dadasaheb Phalke Award is not only a crowning glory to this 93 years old versatile living legend's highly illustrious 67 year old acting career story..
It's a grand salute and applause to the first and the only superstar villain of Hindi cinema with an echo.