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Villainy, Subtlety, Style……….And Pran



For nearly 7 decades, he oscillated between petrifying his audiences, to being a sensitive man, to a comic character and to a tender hearted grandfather. As a villain he struck extreme fear in the hearts of his audiences. But he was equally loved in his lighter roles.

Born Pran Krishan Sikand on February 12, 1920 into a very rich family in Ballimaran, New Delhi, Pran’s father, Kewal Krishan Sikand, was a civil engineer in government service and his mother Rameshwari, a housewife. He didn’t care to study further after his matriculation. He pursued his interest in photography by joining the famous A. Das & Co., Delhi, as an apprentice. He was transferred to Shimla during this stint. He got his first acting break at Shimla, where he enacted the role of Sita opposite Madan Puri, who played Rama in the local stage execution of Ramleela. After his success in Ramleela, he earned a role as a villain in a Punjabi film “Yamla Jat” (1940). He was also offered lead roles though he wasn’t interested in doing those. He was more interested in doing roles with negative and darker shades. Just when his career began to flourish he was compelled to leave Lahore because of the partition. After his arrival in Bombay, he had an unexpectedly long wait before getting a role in “Ziddi” (1948) with Dev Anand and Kamini Kaushal. It turned out a turning point in his career. Thus began the most eventful and impressive journey in Hindi Cinema called Pran.

He acted in almost every major Hindi film release for decades. With a cold voice, a smirk and a taunt, he brought villains into limelight. He brought the villain’s role at par with the lead man, though in some films he outclassed the lead actors. Pran always had an impact over his audiences while he made an entry with a bang, whether it was in a movie or in an important scene. His introductory scene in “Badi Bahen” made him famous and the trend continued. He was to blow smoke rings that were to hit Geeta Bali, and the smoke rings wafted into the view.

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Having a last word in conversations with a powerful dialogue became a must for all his films. The audiences expected a stunning performance and he never let them down.

Who can forget this scene from Kaalia, where he played the role of Jailor Raghuvir Singh!!

Pran is also known for his famous one liners.

“Kashmir ki Kali”……..Shatale shatale mera bhi shamay aayega!
“Love in Tokyo” he said…….Tokyo mein rehte ho par tokne ki aadat nahi gayi
In “Patthar ke Sanam” we heard him saying……..Kyon? Theek hai na?
“Upkaar” where he played Malang chacha, he said………..Zindagi mein chadhte ki pooja mat karna, doobte ki bhi sochna.
While delivering these dialogues, he created his own styles which became immortal.

He teamed these one liners with different mannerisms. Blowing smoke rings, tossing a coin, all these added to his aura as villain. In “Maryada” (1971) he inverted a lit cigarette in his mouth, using his tongue and placed it back between his lips or in “Dus Lakh” (1966) he smoked a cigar as if he was playing a flute. Who can forget “Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai” where he played Raka, the dacoit or “Dil Diya Dard Liya” where he plays the notorious Thakur.

The audiences were so affected by his screen presence that he was often cursed by the public. He also received death threats. Known to be the villain responsible for evil deeds on screen, he did not like repeating himself with same type of roles. He rather experimented with different roles. With his rare acumen, each bad character played by him, came alive on screen. Being there and done that in his roles as villains, Pran also made a cross over to lighter roles, comic roles and positive roles. His intensity was well defined even while playing a good character. Upkaar, Zanjeer, Parichay to name a few.

Pran also had a significant role in comedy films starring Kishore Kumar and Mehmood, in particular. Pran’s memorable collaboration with Kishore Kumar in films like Half Ticket, Pehli Jhalak, Naya Andaz, Aasha, Bewaqoof, Ek Raaz, Jaal Saz can’t be forgotten. The song from Half Ticket gives the example of his comic timing which is at par with Kishore Kumar, providing wholesome entertainment for the audience.

Pran also has some very well known songs picturised to his credit. The topmost being from Upkaar…….Kasme Vaade pyar wafa sab…….rendered by Manna Dey. This role of Malang Chacha brought many accolades for him, including the Filmfare award for Best actor in Supporting Role.

At the peak of his career, Pran was paid more than his co-stars who played lead hero. Among supporting actors, Pran remained one of the highest paid in Hindi cinema. Pran and Ashok Kumar, remain the only male actors in Hindi cinema to have relished many successful films throughout their active career without any low phase in their long career. With his range including black deeds, heroics, comedy, emotions and even songs, Pran is counted as one of Hindi cinema’s all time legends. His unique dialogue delivery, booming,clear voice and lucid characterizations have engraved the memories of his movies in our minds forever. This man with style, substance and sophistication remains Hindi Cinema’s most beloved villain.

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