Millennium Post

Belated nod to doyen of villainy

It would appear that villainy pays. Pran Krishan Sikand, better known simply as Pran, known to us as one of the most horrific villains of Hindi cinema, the man we love to hate, has been named for the prestigious Dadasahib Phalke Award for his contribution to it. Pran, 93, is no stranger to awards, having garnered many during his long odyssey in Hindi cinema, having spent 70 years in it. However, he richly deserves the Dadasahib Phalke Award, India’s highest tribute given annually for a lifetime contribution to Indian cinema. The actor had a long career spanning six decades and was actively involved in films as late as 2002. Beginning his career in 1940 with
Yamala Jat,
acting as a gentleman villain in it, Pran went on to achieve fame playing negative roles in numerous films, including classics like Milan, Madhumati and Kashmir Ki Kali. Such was the charisma of his unique onscreen villainy, that people stopped naming their children ‘Pran’ at the height of his fame as an actor. He formed a fruitful screen partnership with the triumvirate of Dilip-Raj-Dev and did nine films each with all three. His roles ran parallel to that of the heroes’ and he was paid only marginally less than them. He later favoured character roles, playing the friend, beloved father and grandfather in movies like Amitabh Bachchan starrer
Zanjeer, Upkaar
and Parichay. Pran was easily Bollywood’s first-choice villain from the 1950s to the 1980s, although he successfully broke that mould several times to prove himself equally adept at comedy and drama. It was Manoj Kumar’s Upkaar that brought a change in his career when he was cast in the role of a straight-speaking character in 1967.
Pran has been one of Hindi cinema’s all-time greatest acting talents and a versatile actor and, be it with black deeds, heroics, comedy, emotions or even songs, he has excelled with a style and sophistication uniquely his own. In his long winding career, Pran has appeared in over 400 films, which have included almost every blockbuster released in the 1960s and ’70s. He has been voted ‘Villain of the Millenium’ and also made it to CNN’s list of top 25 Asian actors of all time. It is, therefore, somewhat surprising that this outstanding talent has been recognised for the Dadasahib Phalke Award this late in his life and career. It would have been more fitting had the committee deciding these matters bestowed the award on him much, much earlier.
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