Greatest Villain Passes Away!
Pran, the iconic villain with golden heart, passed away today, Friday July 12.
Hindi cinema's legendary actor and last century's greatest villain, Pran started his career in films in pre-Partition Lahore. He lived in Qilla Gujjar Singh. He was a skilled photographer and took photographs of famous artistes. One day – while standing at a pan shop in Lakshmi Chowk – he met Wali, a leading film director of the time. Wali asked Pran if he was interested in acting and Pran said yes. Wali wrote the address of Pancholi Studios on the back of a cigarette pack and asked Pran to see one of his friends there. Dalsukh M. Pancholi, one of the well-known cinema producers of the time. Offered pran a role. A sceptical Pran promptly refused the offer – as an actor he would earn a meagre Rs. 50 a month while he was already making Rs. 200 at the photography studio.Later , though, he accepted on condition that he could continue work at the studio and doned greasepaint for the first time for “Yamla Jat”, where he played the villain. A spate of roles followed and not all of them as the bad man. In 1942 he played hero for the first time opposite Baby Noorjehan in “Khandaan”. He went on to play romantic lead in several films after that, Hindi as well as Punjabi.
Pran cut a romantic figure in real life as well. Always flawlessly turned out, complete with silk tie, handkerchief, he was easily recognized in Lahore, stylishly driving his tonga. Partition changed all that. Pran arrived in Mumbai in August 1947 with his young wife and infant son and little else. No job, no money and very few prospects. After several months of futile waits outside studio walls, he finally came full circle with “Ziddi” where he played the villain once again. After that, though, there was no looking back.
The 'Villain of the Century' had marathon six decades long career in Hindi cinema and was one of the most celebrated actors in the industry. After Ziddi (1948) became a super hit, he became the star attraction of hits (Apradhi, Badi Behen, Afsana, Bahar, Pehli Jhalak, Azad, Devdas, Kundan, Munimji, Chori Chori, Madhumati, Chhalia, Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hei, Raaj Kumar, Ram Aur Shyam, Milan and so on). He worked extensively with the 'Trimurti' of the golden era, Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand and Raaj Kapoor and won several awards- Filmfare (1967, 1969, 1972, 1997), Stardust (Villain of the Millaneum-2000), Screen (Lifetime Achievement Award-2000), Zee TV (Lifetime Achievement Award-2000) and Government of India (Padmbhushan-2001). He was presented the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the Indian government's highest award for cinema, in May this year at his Mumbai home.
Pran is especially remembered for his supporting role in 1973's smash hit “Zanjeer”, which is also remembered as the launch pad for Amitabh Bachchan to superstardom as the 'angry youngman of Hindi cinema', . Pran went on to team with him in over a dozen films and no better tribute can be paid to him than what Big B wrote in his blog after visiting the ailing legend in hospital in November last year:
“A true professional, an earnest colleague, a gentleman and in possession of an elephant's memory of some of the most incredible 'shari' of the times gone by. Irrespective of the heavy makeup that he wore for most of his films – the heavy false beards and wigs interpreting various characters that he played – he was always the first on the set and never left it to get back to his room. He would sit quietly after the shot was over, in the heat of the studio, with gentle demeanor throughout the shift, leaving after the 'packup' sound. On outdoor scedules, he was a delight to spend time with – his daily evening drink and his numerous anecdotes and knowledge of Urdu poetry. This evening too he is filled with those numbers and at 92, God bless him, has not lost any of his sense of humor and humility.”
May his soul rest in peace!