Pran Krishan Sikand (12 Feb 1920 – 12 Jul 2013)
With the sad news of Pran's passing today, I wanted to put up a brief tribute to his work. I have not seen nearly as many of Pran's astonishing number of films as I would like. I haven't seen any as old as the picture at the top of this post, any of his early films in which he played the hero. And I have yet to see even so many of his villainous roles.
Yet he is a house favorite here at Filmi Geek, one of those actors whose name in the cast is always a plus. Here is a brief rundown of some of my favorite Pran roles. What are some of yours?
Raja, Half Ticket (1962) - Quite possibly my favorite of all. In this incarnation Pran chases a pretend-crazy Kishore Kumar across Bombay, trying to recover a stolen jewel he slipped into Kishore's pocket to hide it from police. But the very best thing about this role is that Pran is in not one, but two magnificent songs. How can you not love a song in which Pran romances Kishore?
Kishanlal, Amar Akbar Anthony (1977) - Apart from just being a superb movie all around, this is one of Pran's less villainous 70s roles. Married to Nirupa Roy, the father of the three stars, Pran is that quintessential masala character separated from his family for decades. He is also a rags-to-riches story, turning the tables on the villainous Robert. It is a great story arc with many ups and downs.
Mohan, Kashmir ki kali (1964) - Quintessential Pran at his sneering, conniving best. If the way he leers at Sharmila Tagore's character isn't enough, he turns out to be a baby-snatcher too. This is the Pran that audiences love to hate.
Daljeet, Kab? Kyoon? aur Kahaan? (1970) - This makes the list only because Zombie Pran popping his eyeballs out is far and away the best thing about this movie.
Sher Khan, Zanjeer (1973) - Well, duh. This is almost too obvious to mention. From the flaming orange henna to the superb qawwali to some of the best dialogs of his career, this dushman-ban-gaya-dost, won over by the heart and fighting spirit of Amitabh Bachchan, is sure to make many a best-of-Pran list coming out this weekend. But that doesn't mean he shouldn't be on my list too.
Godspeed, Pran saheb, and thank you so much for all the memorable movies and rich, gripping, larger-than-life characters.