‘Pran Krishan Sikand (born 12 February 1920), better known by his short name, Pran, is a multiple Filmfare award-winning Indian actor, known as a movie villain and character actor in Hindi cinema from the 1940s to the 1990s. He acted as the hero from 1940–47 and as a villain from 1942–1991 and played supporting and character roles from 1948–2007.
In a long and prolific career, he appeared in over 350 films. He played the leading man in films like Khandaan (1942), Pilpili Saheb (1954) and Halaku (1956). His roles in the films like Jis Desh Men Ganga Behti Hai (1960), Upkar (1967), Shaheed (1965), Aansoo Ban Gaye Phool (1969), Johny Mera Naam (1970), Victoria No. 203 (1972), Be-Imaan (1972), Zanjeer (1973), Don (1978) and Duniya (1984) are considered to be among his best performances. He was awarded as the ‘Villain of the Millennium’ by Stardust in 2000. The Government of India honored him with the Padma Bhushan in 2001 and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2013 for his contributions towards Indian cinema. In 2010, he was named on the list of CNN’s Top 25 Asian actors of all time.’ (source: Wikipedia)
I used to get scared to watch Pran on the Hindi film screen, when I was about 7 or 8 years old – such was the impact of his acting in the Hindi movies then. Later, in the box-office hit film ‘Bobby'(1973) – ‘Prem hai Naam Mera, Prem Chopra !’, uttered…the new villain Prem Chopra and he captured the imagination of mine for some time, followed by other villains like Kulbhushan karbanda, the terrorizing bald-headed villain in the film ‘Shaan (1980)’ who is very happy to let his detractors get killed by the crocodile and after him, Amrish Puri (‘Mogambo kush hua ! from Mr India (1987)’) was the villain I preferred to watch. Then, Villainy had a definite place in the Indian movies like the James Bond movies (from the Hollywood) have.
There were definite roles designed and screenplay written distinctly for a Lady vamp, a submissive heroine, a tricking ‘relative’ traitor and the usual fight scenes for many character actors who depicted the Good and the Evil in many ways. The box-office formula was to entertain, amuse, scare (caution), enlighten and teach the movie audience with what is worthwhile. But now, these concepts have drastically changed in Hindi movies – with the film Hero himself doing the negative roles or the heroine taking up the role of a vamp in the movie or even enacting a item dance number epitomizing obscenity to tempt the gullible. The whole idea of Indian movie-making is set to meet international audience; with parallel cinema ( that which is based on the art ) and commercial cinema merging to deliver a cocktail international box office hit. New film stories based on ‘already well-run’ western movies and Indian regional hit movies have been added in plenty. This has led movie-making to be a commodity manufacturing factory like in case of other consumer driven goods or services. And so, the typical Hindi film villain has got lost somewhere and is not as noticeable as he was earlier.
Pran deserves the Dadasaheb Phalke award – I would not say that he should have received it much earlier, like many of his contemporary actors have opined. Raj Kapoor got his Dadasaheb Phalke Award in May 1988 and everyone said it was late because Raj Kapoor was really unwell and wheelchair bound when he came to receive his award. Raj Kapoor died of Asthma and related complications in June 1988, a month later.