Pran birth centenary: How Bollywood got its baddie, by chance

Updated: Feb 12, 2020, 08:32 IST | Shaheen Parkar | Mumbai

Pran's daughter Pinky shares memorable events of their life, as family marks his centenary birthday

Pran's kids, Arvind, Pinky, Sunil at Pran Chowk's inauguration in 2018
Pran's kids, Arvind, Pinky, Sunil at Pran Chowk's inauguration in 2018

Hindi films' most celebrated villain Pran would have turned 100 today. The actor, who switched to playing character roles later in his career, passed away in 2013. While his family has not planned a mega celebration to mark the occasion, they will begin the day by visiting the Pran Chowk at Carter Road, Bandra, to pay floral tributes. The corner, which leads to Union Park, was named after him in 2018.

Pran's daughter Pinky Bhalla tells mid-day, "The family will get together at my place in Juhu. It will be a quiet affair, just the way he would have wanted it to be. We will go to the Pran Chowk in the day."

Though Pran's career spanned six decades, his three children kept their distance from the industry. An exception was son Sunil Sikand, who worked as an assistant to the late filmmaker Manmohan Desai, with whom Pran collaborated on several projects, including Dharam Veer (1977), Amar Akbar Anthony (1977) and Naseeb (1981). Sunil directed Farishta (1984) and Lakshmanrekha (1991), which featured his father, but did not pursue Bollywood, thereafter.

"Now, Sunil leads a retired life in Goa," informs Bhalla. "My other brother Arvind Sikand is a businessman, based in London. He has been [living] there for decades."

The family at Pran's 90th birthday celebration in 2010The family at Pran's 90th birthday celebration in 2010

Bhalla recalls that in their childhood, they were kept away from the industry. "We barely watched films. Dad made sure we had a normal upbringing. We never went on the sets or attended filmy events."

This stemmed from the fact that before Pran, the family had no connection with the industry. "It was a chance meeting with a film writer that landed him [Pran] his first role. The elders of the family realised only later that he was pursuing acting. Dad was born in Delhi, and did his schooling there. The family moved to Lahore, but returned to Delhi before the Partition."

Pran did not resort to any over-the-top gimmicks to make the villain look like a caricature. Flaunting suits and boots, and with his penetrating eyes, deep baritone and trademark whiff of the cigarette, he emerged to be among the most stylish and suave baddies in B-Town. His iconic catchphrase "Barkurdhar" was enough to instil fear among audiences, so much so that it is suggested that parents refused to name their kids Pran, owing to his menacing on-screen persona.

Pran

The actor's other memorable performances include Upkar (1967), Johnny Mera Naam (1970), Victoria No 203 (1972) and Don (1978). One of his most applauded acts was in the Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Zanjeer (1973), which had the chartbuster, Yaari hai iman mera yaar meri zindagi.

Bhalla recalls that apart from acting, "dad was a cricket buff. He would not miss a single match when India was playing."

Even later on in his life, while he was ailing, he would stay abreast about matches, with the scores.

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