Pran – Zanjeer (Photo credit: Kaddele)
“Sherkhan khud aaya tha, khud chala jayega.” And so he did. Pran Kishan Sikand, the gentleman villian, is no more. He epitomised villainous characters without making them inhuman. Who else could add little touches of comedy to the character of a villian, like he did in Half Ticket? I think we laughed as much at and with Kishore Kumar during the film as we did when Pran decided to jiggy with the cross-dressed genius (Kumar) during Aake Seedhi Lagi Dil Pe Jaise Nazariya.
The news of Pran’s death left a deep sadness among many of us – even for those of us who were born after his active years of 1940 to mid-1980s.
Till date villian means Pran (at the top of the list), followed by Amjad Khan, Prem Chopra, Ajit, Mac Mohan and a few others. Later villians, like Shakti Kapoor and even Gulshan Grover came across more like caricatures when compared to Pran’s quiet wickedness or Amjad Khan’s madness.
But how many of us don’t remember Sherkhan? Or Mangal Chacha in Upkar? Can you forget that man and the pain during the song Kasme Vaade Pyaar Wafa Sab Batein Hain?
Pran was a legend. Truly. If he played villainous roles with so much conviction that generation after generation parents refused to name their children ‘Pran,’ he also made us laugh in Victoria No. 203. He made our hearts melt in Zanjeer as Sherkhan, the benevolent brave-heart who was ready to lay down his own life to protect a friend; and as the stern grandfather, conflicted with his own pride and love for his rebellious grandchildren in Parichay he also made us weep silently.
Pran, the artiste is no more. And, unfortunately, we never did appreciate the man enough while he was alive. He got the Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian honour in the country, in 2001 – at the age of 81. He was selected for the Dadasaheb Phalke Award only this year – just a few months before he left the world. The man never got the National Film Award for Best Actor. I am sure many of you will remember some of the recent, younger awardees.
But, maybe, Pran Saheb, as he was known in the industry, didn’t need any of these awards. His fans would remember the man for everything he was, for years. The void left by Pran Saheb in the film industry could not be filled by anyone. It is yet to be filled.
(This blog first appeared in The Hindu Business Line. Pran: The ‘Life’ of Hindi Cinema | Business Line.)