Pran Krishan Sikand Ahluwalia
Pran in a 1954 publicity photo
Pran Krishan Sikand Ahluwalia

(1920-02-12)12 February 1920
Died12 July 2013(2013-07-12) (aged 93)
Other namesVillain of the Millennium, Pran Sahab
Years active1940–2007
Shukla Sikand Ahluwalia
(m. 1945)
Children3 (including Sunil Sikand)
Awards3 Filmfare Awards for Best Supporting Actor
HonoursPadma Bhushan (2001)
Dadasaheb Phalke Award (2013)
WebsiteOfficial Website

Pran Krishan Sikand Ahluwalia (12 February 1920 – 12 July 2013), better known by his mononym, Pran, was an Indian actor, known as one of the greatest villains ever in the history of Indian cinema and a character actor in Hindi cinema from the 1940s to the 1990s.[1] He has been one of the most highly successful and respected veteran actors in the history of Indian cinema. He was also one of the highest-paid actors of his time.

He played hero roles from 1940 to 1947, negative characters from 1942 to 1991, and played supporting and character roles from 1967 to 2007. The late 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s were the peak periods of Pran's stint as a villainous character actor, especially 1950s and 1960s. Pran was the first true personification of "evil" on the Indian screen. The intensity of his portrayal of negative/villainous characters on the screen was effective enough to desist the Indian people from naming their children "Pran" in the 1950s & 60s & subsequently thereafter (when Pran was at the peak of his villainy). In a long and prolific career, Pran appeared in over 362 films. He played the leading man in works such as Khandaan (1942), Pilpili Saheb (1954) and Halaku (1956). He is known for his roles in Madhumati (1958), Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai (1960), Shaheed (1965), Upkar (1967), Ram Aur Shyam (1967), Aansoo Ban Gaye Phool (1969), Purab Aur Paschim (1970), Johny Mera Naam (1970), Victoria No. 203 (1972), Be-Imaan (1972), Zanjeer (1973), Majboor (1974), Amar Akbar Anthony (1977), Don (1978), Sharaabi (1984) and Duniya (1984).

Pran has received many awards and honours in his career. He won the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1967, 1969 and 1972 and was awarded the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. He was awarded the "Villain of the Millennium" by Stardust in 2000.[2] The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Bhushan in 2001[3] for his contributions to the arts. He was honoured in 2013 with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the highest national award for cinema artists, by the Government of India. In 2010, he was named on the list of CNN's Top 25 Asian actors of all time.[4][5]

Pran died on 12 July 2013 at the age of 93 after suffering from a prolonged illness in Mumbai's Lilavati Hospital.[6]

Early life and education

Pran was born on 12 February 1920 in Lahore,[7] into a wealthy Punjabi Hindu family but raised in Ballimaran of Old Delhi in Delhi. His father, Kewal Krishan Sikand Ahluwalia, was a civil engineer and a government civil contractor, his mother was Rameshwari Ahluwalia. Pran was one of seven children; four sons and three daughters.[8]

Pran was academically gifted, especially in mathematics. His father had a transferable job, and so Pran studied in various places, including Dehradun, Lahore, Kapurthala, Meerut and Unnao (Uttar Pradesh), finally completing his matriculation from Hamid School, in Rampur (U.P.). After that, he joined A. Das & Co., Delhi as an apprentice to become a professional photographer. He travelled to Shimla and played Sita in a local staging of "Ramlila". Madan Puri enacted the role of Rama in this play.[9]


Early career (1940–1967)

Pran got his first role in Dalsukh M. Pancholi's Punjabi film Yamla Jat (1940) because of an accidental meeting with writer Wali Mohammad Wali at a shop in Lahore.[10] Directed by Moti B. Gidwani, the film featured Noor Jehan and Durga Khote. This was followed by small roles in the film Chaudhary and Khajanchi, both in 1941. Pancholi cast him again in Khandaan (1942), which was Pran's first Hindi-language film. It featured him as a romantic hero, opposite Noor Jehan, who had acted with him in Yamla Jat as a child artist.[11][12][13] In Khandaan, she was under 15 years old and compensated for the difference in their heights in close-up shots by standing on top of bricks.[14] In the pre-independence era, director Gidwani cast Pran in more films like Kaise Kahoon (1945) and Khamosh Nigahen (1946).

Pran had acted in 22 films from 1942 to 1946 in Lahore; 18 were released by 1947. Due to India's partition in 1947, his career had a brief break. His films from 1944 to 1947 were made in undivided India, but Taraash (1951) and Khanabadosh (1952) (both co-starring Manorama) were released only in Pakistan after Partition. He left Lahore and arrived in Bombay. For a few months, he looked for acting opportunities while doing other jobs. He worked in Delmar Hotel, Marine Drive for eight months, after which he got a chance to act in 1948.

Because of help from writer Saadat Hasan Manto and actor Shyam, he got a role in the Bombay Talkies' film, Ziddi which starred Dev Anand and Kamini Kaushal and was directed by Shaheed Latif. The movie launched Pran's career in Bombay. Incidentally, it proved to be Dev Anand's big break as a hero.[8][15] By 1950 he had been gradually established as a premier villain in Hindi cinema. Within a week of Ziddi's success, he had signed three more films – S M Yusuf's Grihasti (1948), which became a diamond jubilee hit, Prabhat Films's Apradhi (1949) and Wali Mohammad's Putli (1949). By then, Wali Mohammad, who was responsible for Pran's first role, had come to Bombay and became a producer, setting up an office at Famous Studios, near Mahalaxmi Racecourse.[16][17] In the 1940s, romantic duets featuring him, like the songs "Tere Naaz Uthane Ko Jee Chahta Hai" from Grihasti, opposite Shardha, and from Khandaan (1942), with Noor Jehan, became popular in the 1940s. The way he expressed his dialogues in films such as Sheesh Mahal (1950), a series of disguises he made in Adalat (1958), and the rapport he shared with vamps like Kuldip Kaur in Jashan (1955) showcased his versatility in the 1950s.

As a villain, Pran's initial successful films were Ziddi and Bari Behan (1949). Pran's trademark blowing of smoke rings first appeared in the latter film.[18] He was regularly offered the role of the main villain or of a negative character in films with Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand and Raj Kapoor as the lead hero in the 1950s and 60s. From the 1950s directors like M. V. Raman, Nanabhai Bhatt, Kalidas, Ravindra Dave, I. S. Johar and Bimal Roy repeatedly cast him. Similarly in the 1960s, he was frequently in the directorial ventures of A. Bhim Singh, Shakti Samanta, Bhappi Sonie, K. Amarnath, Nasir Hussain and others. In the 1970s, newer, younger directors and producers cast him in their films even though Pran asked for the highest price among supporting actors from 1968 to 1982.[19]

Pran's performance as the negative character was appreciated especially in Dilip Kumar starrers such as Azaad (1955), Devdas (1955), Madhumati (1958), Dil Diya Dard Liya (1966), Ram Aur Shyam (1967) and Aadmi (1968); and films with Dev Anand as the lead man such as Ziddi (1948), Munimji (1955), Amar Deep (1958), Jab Pyar Kisi Se Hota Hai (1961); and with Raj Kapoor in Aah (1953), Chori Chori (1956), Jagte Raho (1956), Chhalia (1960), Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai (1960) and Dil Hi Toh Hai (1963). Films with him as the lead hero, Pilpili Saheb (1954) and then Halaku in 1956, were big hits too. He had roles in several genres, like as a pirate in Sindbad the Sailor (1952) and Daughter of Sindbad (1958); in action-packed thrillers like Azad (1955); historicals like Aan (1952) and Raj Tilak (1958); social themes like Baradari (1955); and light romances like Munimji (1955) and Asha (1957).[20] In the 1960s and early 1970s, despite being in his 40s, he continued to play pivotal roles as a character in the age range of 25 to 30 in films with Shammi Kapoor, Joy Mukherjee, Rajendra Kumar and Dharmendra as the lead heroes.[21] From the early 1950s to the early 1970s, Pran gained particular notoriety due to his frequent roles as a villain.[22] From 1964, with Pooja Ke Phool and Kashmir Ki Kali, he also brought a comical side to his negative characters. While Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor's careers as the young hero started to decline in the late 1960s and Rajendra Kumar and Shammi Kapoor stopped playing the lead by 1973, Pran continued with his roles. His association with Dev Anand, begun in 1948, continued even during the 1970s and the 1980s with Johny Mera Naam (1970), Yeh Gulistan Hamara (1972), Joshila (1973), Warrant (1975) and Des Pardes (1978).

Pran played roles in comedy films starring Kishore Kumar and Mehmood Ali in the lead. His collaborations with Mehmood include Sadhu Aur Shaitaan (1968), Lakhon Me Ek (1971) and with Kishore Kumar include Chham Chhama Chham (1952), Aasha (1957), Bewaqoof (1960), Half Ticket (1962) and Man-Mauji (1962).

Later career (1967−retirement)

In the late 1960s, Pran played Malang Chacha, a veteran war hero, in Manoj Kumar's film Upkar (1967). The Kalyanji Anandji song "Kasme Waade Pyaar Wafaa" was picturised on him. In this film, Pran played a more sympathetic role. He received his first Filmfare Award for Upkar. Kumar continued to cast him in pivotal roles in films such as Purab Aur Paschim (1970), Be-Imaan (1972), Sanyasi (1975) and Dus Numbri (1976).

From 1967 onward he also acted in Bengali films, beginning with Ashim Banerjee's Sonai Dighe, where Joy Mukherjee was the hero.[23]

Pran played the supporting role in several of these, which replaced his image as the villain with that of a character actor. After 1969, he was offered the lead role in films like Nanha Farishta (1969), Jangal Mein Mangal (1972), Dharma (1973), Ek Kunwari Ek Kunwara (1973) and Rahu Ketu (1978).[24]

Pran and Ashok Kumar were very close friends in professional and real life. They acted in 27 films together from 1951 to 1987 starting with Afsana (1951). Their other films include Mr. X (1957), Adhikar (1971), Victoria No. 203 (1972), Chori Mera Kaam (1975) and Raja Aur Rana (1984). Sung by Kishore Kumar, the songs "Hum Bolega To Bologe Ke Bolta Hai" from Kasauti (1974) and "Micheal Daru Peeke Dandha Kartha Hai" from Majboor (1974), picturised on Pran, were very popular.[citation needed]

From 1969 to 1982, Pran was one of the highest-paid actors in Bollywood.[25] He played the lead role in the film Aurat (1967) paired opposite Padmini, with Rajesh Khanna in a supporting role. Pran and Khanna worked in five more films — Maryada (1971), Jaanwar (1983), Souten (1983), Bewafai (1985) and Durgaa (1985). In 1973, he recommended Amitabh Bachchan to Prakash Mehra for the character of Vijay in Zanjeer, a role earlier offered to Dev Anand and Dharmendra. Pran's role as Sher Khan, with his red wig and beard and Pathan I style was well appreciated.[26] Pran acted with Bachchan in about 14 films with notable ones being Zanjeer (1973), Majboor (1974), Don (1978), Amar Akbar Anthony (1977), Dostana (1980), Kaalia (1981), Naseeb (1981) and Sharaabi (1984).

Pran occasionally accepted antagonistic roles from 1971 to 1992. He appeared as a villain in films like Maryada, Naya Zamana, Jawan Muhabat, Aan Baan, Roop Tera Mastana, Yeh Gulistan Hamara, Gaddar, Rahu Ketu, Andha Kanoon (1983), Duniya (1984), Insaaf Kaun Karega, Durgaa, Bewafai, Hoshiyar, Dharm Adhikari and Azaad Desh Ke Ghulam.[24] Pran had dual roles in Khoon Ka Rishta, Insaaf and Jangal Mein Mangal.[27]

He produced the movie Lakshmanrekha in 1991, the only one he produced in his Bollywood career, and played Kishan Lal Sharma in the movie.[28]

Pran at his 90th birthday in 2010.

In 1998, at the age of 78, Pran suffered a heart attack,[29] after which he started rejecting film offers due to age-related problems. But in the 1990s, Amitabh Bachchan requested Pran to do roles in his home productions Tere Mere Sapne (1996) and Mrityudata (1997). Pran made an exception by acting in them to help Bachchan through a difficult time in his career. In 1997, his character in Mrityudaata was modified to compensate for Pran's shaking legs in real life and in Tere Mere Sapne, his shots were taken with him seated. After 2000, he made a few guest appearances.[23]

Personal life

Pran married Shukla Ahluwalia in 1945 and has two sons, Arvind Ahluwalia and Sunil Sikand Ahluwalia, and a daughter, Pinky Ahluwalia.[7]

Illness and death

He was treated at the Lilavati Hospital and died on 12 July 2013. He had been admitted to hospital a few times in the last few months for deteriorating health; at some point he was battling pneumonia.[30] Pran's death was widely noted by statesmen and his fellow entertainers.[31] Prime Minister Manmohan Singh paid his condolences on his death and called him "an icon".[32] Veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan tweeted his feelings about his death calling him a "magnificent pillar" of the film industry.[33]


Pran had a six-decade career in Hindi cinema and is one of the most celebrated actors in the industry. His acting is said to have been effective enough to desist people from naming their children "Pran" because of his negative roles,[22] while the industry had started calling him "Pran Sahab".[34] His favourite line "Barkhurdaar" became immensely popular.

In 2000, Bunny Reuben, a film journalist, authored a biography on Pran, titled "...and Pran". The name of this book arises from the fact that in the majority of Pran's movies, his name was credited in the last after all the other actors, "....and Pran". His biography, "...and Pran", was a tribute to about 250 of his 350 movies that had his name at the end of the credits, usually with the words "...and Pran" and sometimes "...above all, Pran".[35]

In 2012, he gave his handprint for "Legend's Walk", a waterfront promenade in Bandra.[36]


Main article: Pran filmography

Source: Official website. See also articles on individual films.

Awards and honours

Pran has been honoured with awards for his portrayal of negative characters. He has received three Filmfare Awards in the Best Supporting Actor category for Upkar, Aansoo Ban Gaye Phool and Be-Imaan. However, in 1973 when he was awarded for his role of constable Ram Singh in Be-Imaan, he refused to accept the award stating that the Filmfare Award for Best Music Director should have gone to Ghulam Mohammed for Pakeezah and not to the musical duo Shankar Jaikishan for Be-imaan.[37][38] He was awarded three Bengal Film Journalists' Association Awards for his supporting roles.

For his vast contributions to Indian cinema, Pran has been honoured with Lifetime Achievement awards, including those of Filmfare, Star Screen Awards and Zee Cine Awards. In 2001, the Government of India conferred the Padma Bhushan on him. In April 2013, he was announced to be the winner of the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the most prestigious award of Indian cinema, presented by the Government of India. The award was presented to him at the 60th National Film Awards for his lifetime of work in the film industry.[39] He could not attend the 60th National Film Awards in May 2013 where he was to be presented the Dadasaheb Phalke Award. Instead, Information and Broadcasting minister Manish Tewari presented the award at Pran's home in Mumbai. Celebrities congratulated him on this occasion with Amitabh Bachchan calling him "a large pillar of the Indian Film Industry" on Twitter.[40] He was a contender of the award for the previous year with Manoj Kumar and Vyjayanthimala, but Soumitra Chatterjee was chosen as the awardee.[41]

Civilian Award

National Film Awards

Pran being felicitated with Dadasaheb Phalke award at his residence on 5 August 2011.

Filmfare Awards

Bengal Film Journalists' Association Awards

Other awards and recognitions


  1. ^ Gulzar, Govind Nihalani, Saibal Chatterjee (2003). Encyclopaedia of Hindi Cinema. Encyclopædia Britannica (India) Pvt. Ltd. p. 605. ISBN 8179910660. Retrieved 15 April 2013.((cite book)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ "Pran, Bollywood's black gold". NDTV. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  3. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  4. ^ "Big B in CNN's top 25 Asian actors list". Hindustan Times. New York. 5 March 2010. Archived from the original on 1 November 2011. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  5. ^ "Asia's Best Actors". The Indian Express. Archived from the original on 26 January 2013. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
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  7. ^ a b "Pran – The legend of Hindi cinema – About Pran". Retrieved 15 April 2013.
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  11. ^ "Pran chosen for Raj Kapoor award". The Times of India. 15 July 2004. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
  12. ^ a b c A lifetime of villainy Prerana Trehan, The Tribune, 25 July 2004.
  13. ^ "Villains". Archived from the original on 31 May 2009.
  14. ^ "Villain of the Millennium Pran turns 89". Retrieved 15 July 2013.
  15. ^ "My Best Year – PRAN:1948". India Today. 3 July 2006. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
  16. ^ a b ..In March 2000, he was honoured with the Zee Lifetime Achievement Award Rediff, 5 April 2000.
  17. ^ Bollywood: a history, by Mihir Bose, page 161, published by Lotus Collection, Roli Books, 2007. ISBN 81-7436-508-7.
  18. ^ "Tribute: 92 Facts You Didn't Know About Pran". Retrieved 15 July 2013.
  19. ^ "And Pran – The Most Loved Bad Man of Indian Cinema". Sakal Times. 12 February 1920. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
  20. ^ "Pran Krishan Sikand-Bollywood Legend". Calcutta Tube. Archived from the original on 21 November 2010. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
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  22. ^ a b Kumar, Anuj (15 November 2012). "Talking talkies". The Hindu. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
  23. ^ a b Kohli, Suresh (12 February 2012). "Ninety-plus and counting". Deccan Herald. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
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  28. ^ "Top 10 Facts about Pran Saheb". Archived from the original on 8 November 2013. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
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  30. ^ "Veteran actor passes away at 93". Zee News. 12 July 2013. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
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  32. ^ "Pran was an icon: Prime Minister". New Delhi: Zee News. 12 July 2013. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
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  34. ^ Pran is eighty – His is the kind of life (Pran) life will always be proud of Archived 17 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Screen.
  35. ^ Reel evil The Tribune, 24 October 2004." Bimal Roy presents, Madhumati, starring Dilip Kumar, Vyjayanthimala, Johny Walker, Tiwari ... and Pran."
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  37. ^ Super Admin (27 February 2006). "Things that u dont know about Filmfare Awards". One India. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  38. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x "PRAN – Awards". Retrieved 12 April 2013.
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  40. ^ Bachchan, Amitabh (13 April 2013). "Amitabh Bachchan @SrBachchan". Archived from the original on 15 June 2013. Retrieved 13 April 2013 – via Twitter. A glorious tribute to a great human and a large pillar of the Indian Film Industry .. PRAN..the Dada Saheb Phalke award by the state
  41. ^ "Veteran actor Soumitra Chatterjee to get Dadasaheb Phalke award". The Financial Express. Kolkata. 22 March 2012. Archived from the original on 2 January 2014. Retrieved 13 April 2013.
  42. ^ Lata, Bismillah Khan get Bharat Ratnas Rediff, 25 January 2001. "The Padma Bhushan...veteran actor Pran,".
  43. ^ "Actor Pran to receive this year's Dadasaheb Phalke Award". The Times of India. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
  44. ^ 1962:25th Annual BFJA Awards – Awards For The Year 1961 BFJA Awards website. Archived 7 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  45. ^ 1967:30th Annual BFJA Awards – Awards For The Year 1966 BFJA Awards website. Archived 28 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  46. ^ 1974: 37th Annual BFJA Awards – Awards For The Year 1973 BFJA Awards website. Archived 22 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine

Further reading