New Delhi: Biggest honour of Indian cinema, Dada Saheb Phalke Award, will be conferred on legendary actor Pran for lifetime contribution to this field. Prior to this announcement, many film critics had expressed disappointment for the prestigious award not being given to Pran, one of the most promising actors of Hindi cinema.

READ MORE: B-town hails Phalke honour for Pran

The ailing nonagenarian actor who played innumerable roles depicting various shades of life on celluloid ruled the roost in Bollywood as character artist for over five decades.  

He bagged several awards including villain of the millennium by stardust in 2000. He appeared in over 350 films and won four Filmfare Awards. He was also conferred on Padma Bhushan in 2001.

The award, named after the father of Indian cinema Dada Saheb Phalke, will be conferred on Pran on May 3. This year also marks the 100 years of Indian cinema.

Welcoming the announcement, his son Sunil Sikand said that the family was happy that Pran was recognized for his contribution to Indian cinema. "It is amazing. We are happy and honoured." When asked whether the recognition came too late for the veteran actor whose name figured in the past also, Sunil said, "I don't want to get into these details. We are happy with the award. My father is watching the news on TV right now."

Honour comes too late

The film industry, however, feels that the honour came too late for Pran. "... why so late recognition? He should have been given this years back. I am delighted for Pran sahab. We grew up seeing him as a villain but he was a hero," said actor Rishi Kapoor, who worked with Pran in films such as 'Karz', 'Naseeb' and 'Bobby'.
Actor Prem Chopra, famous for his negative roles, too felt that it was a late honour. "He is the most deserving case. He should have been awarded much earlier. But it is never too late. He has been a source of inspiration for many people and stayed in the profession for such a long time," he said.

Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt called Pran "a thorough gentleman and a man whom you can depend upon".

Born on February 12 in 1920 in old Delhi, Pran was educated at places like Kapurthala, Unnao, Meerut, Dehradun and Rampur as his father Lala Kewal Krishnan Sikand was in government service.
Pran initially wanted to become a photographer but destiny had different plans for him. A chance meeting with a film producer got him his first break in Punjabi film 'Yamla Jat' in 1940. There was no looking back for the actor after that as he went on to star in films like 'Chaudhary' (1941),
'Khandan'(1942), 'Kaise Kahun' (1945) and 'Badnami (1946).
After Partition, Pran came to Mumbai with his wife Shukla and sons Arvind and Sunil but found it difficult to get work as an actor in the city of dreams. He had almost given hope when writer Saadat Hasan Manto helped him get a role in Dev Anand starrer 'Ziddi' in 1948 which revived his career.
Pran will be forever remembered for bringing villains on par with the heroes, ruling the industry from 1969 to 1982. He commanded equal money and respect for his negative characters in 'Madhumati', 'Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai', 'Ram Aur Shyam' and 'Devdas'.
The actor's baritone and good looks helped him bring charm to his villainy which was very unique to Pran. Such was the magic of his onscreen roles that parents stopped naming their children 'Pran' at the height of his fame.
His chameleon-like ability helped Pran transform himself from one of the most hated onscreen villains to one of the most beloved character actors -- be it the 'Mangal chacha' in 'Upkar', Sher Khan of opposite Amitabh Bachchan in 'Zanjeer' or the discipline-loving but soft-hearted grandfather in Gulzar's 'Parichay'.


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