“Today I feel like I have lost my father. Pran saab gave all us bad men dignity, stardom and importance. He was so popular that each of his films would show his name at the end of the credit titles with a special ‘And Pran’. He was the first actor who demanded respectability for negative characters and went on to become as popular as leading heroes of his time, if not more.
He even earned more money than some of the leading heroes of his time.
Truly iconic, he had this cool confidence about himself.
He never let fame or his enviable position go to his head, which is perhaps the sign of all great men. Till the end, he was this modest person who gave immense respect to everyone he met. I remember I used to visit him when he was unwell, and even though he was in wheelchair and ailing, he would make it a point to call me the next day to thank me for the visit.
His professionalism was legendary.
In fact, it was his punctuality that inspired actors like Amitabh Bachchan to follow him. If he was told that the shift would start at nine, he would be already sitting on the sets at nine with his makeup on. Even in the later years, he would be on time and would keep sitting there between shots, till it was lunch time.
He was so ahead of his times. He would go the extra mile to create each of his characters differently, which actors today try to do. Each of his characters was distinct and he would make sure that he worked on them before the shooting of the film began.
Once he told me about a unique approach he takes before tackling a character. He told me, “ If you want to rise and shine, work on your character yourself. Think of yourself as a character and improvise it on your own, a little more than is written in the script. Every director is going to like that.” He told me how he developed the signature move of caressing his neck while playing the bad man in Raj Kapoor’s film Jis Desh Me Ganga Behti Hai. Raj Kapoor later came to him and said that he loved that gesture, because every bad man is secretly worried about a noose tightening around his neck, and his action symbolised that.
Pran saab was an extremely intelligent man who constantly contributed his ideas in a bid to improvise on the script.
He didn’t cringe while playing the bad man. In fact, he essayed his roles with such conviction that it was said parents had stopped naming their children Pran after he became popular.
A truly iconic star who went beyond being just an actor. He was also magnanimous and generous with his fellow actors.
I was a new actor when I worked with him and he need not have given me the kind of attention and validation that he did. I feel blessed to have known him so closely.
He was not merely a star. He was truly a genius.