On 12 February 2020 the late actor Pran credited as ‘Number 1 Villain of Indian Cinema’ would have completed 100 years had been alive but the actor bid adieu from this would 7 years before attaining the elusive century. Nevertheless, the actor in his remarkable career played an inning that was studded with boundaries and sixes! Each role that he played was lauded by the masses and the critics alike! Hence the Government of India saluted his contribution to Indian cinema with the country’s highest civilian honor the Padma Bhushan in 2001 and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the highest national award for cinema artists. Though, Pran was a multifaceted and versatile actor yet it was his awesome Villainy that made him the Number 1 Villain of Indian Cinema’. Acknowledging his Prowess as an All-Time Favorite Villain Mumbai’s prominent Film Magazine honored Pran with an apt award titled – Villain of the Millennium in the year 2000!
On the Centenary Year of Pran, Indian Film History (IFH) pays homage to the great actor in six-part series exploring the different shades of Pran!! In the first edition, we take look at the Villainy of Pran and how inspired a generation of villains.
When actors require weird make-up and heavy garbs to look villainous Pran was one villain who evoked terror in the hearts of the audience by his fierce eyes and his terrifying rich baritone. Besides, Pran added charm to his character using striking mannerism that would soon become a craze on the film’s release. For instance, in Raj Kapoor‘s film Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai in which Pran played a dreaded dacoit Raaka, Pran adopted a unique mannerism of running his figures around his neck! Similarly, in the film Majboor, Pran played the role of a Michel D’Souza, a small crook. To add charisma to the character Pran used a style of watching people by circling his fingers around his eyes like binoculars. The style became famous in the ’70s.
In addition, to make his character look dark and scary, Pran created menace by smoking cigarette in various styles like in the film Bari Behan (1949) he started the trend of blowing of smoke rings which were later copied by many villains. In fact, Pran has been an institution in villainy and a generation of villains have copied his style and achieved stardom following his style. For, instance Shatrughan Sinha used in his smoking style creating circles in the film Khilona (1970) and became a top villain of the 70s’!!
In the film Maryada (1971) staring Rajesh Khanna and Raaj Kumar, Pran left an incredible mark on the audience with his weird smoking style!! In the film, he would gulp the flaming cigarette in his mouth and then invert it with his tongue with such a sophisticated style that the cigarette would be placed back between his lips!! The audience went gaga over his style!! This was one style which no actor could mimic!!