By Subhash K Jha
MUMBAI: Veteran Bollywood actor Pran, 93, has been given the country’s highest cinema honour — Dadasaheb Phalke award – for his services to Indian cinema.
The actor, who played villain in about two dozen films, is known for his role in Dil Diya Dard Liya, Naya Daur, Love in Tokyo, An Evening in Paris, etc. He is most famous for his role in classics such as Zanjeer and Madhumati.
So what does Bollywood think of its highest award going to Pran?
Amitabh Bachchan: “I am delighted. A most deserving recognition.”
Saroj Khan: “Thank God they gave him the honour while he is breathing.Pran Saheb should have got this award long back.I congratulate him from the bottom of my heart. Long live Pran Saheb.”
Subhash Ghai: “Pran Saheb deserved the Dadasaheb Phalke award long back. He has worked with me in Vishawnath, Karz and Krodhi playing completely different characters. He was the king of villainy for two decades and a star character-actor for a decade. I wish legends like him get honored at the right time so that they can appreciate and enjoy the recognition. I think Pran Saheb should have got this award at the age of 70.”
Gulshan Grover: “I applaud the jury for giving this honour to Pran Saab and thereby ending the discrimination between villainy and heroism that often exists in these awards.I’ve learnt so much from Pran Saab and by observing him personally.I’ve been fortunate not only to have received his guidance but also his appreciation. I am inspired by his professionalism, dedication and his ability to stand out in each and every role.”
Raza Murad: “Why this delay in honouring the most deserving person of our film fraternity? The 93-year old frail acting powerhouse is bedridden. How is is he going to receive the award in person now when he is unable to stand on his feet? His contribution was worthy of the Dadasaheb Phalke award 30 years ago . Then why this delayed recognition?The President Of India should be kind enough to go to Pran Saab’s home with the award and hand it over to him.We owe him that much.”
Asha Parekh : “I am so happy for Pran Saab. He thoroughly deserves the award. I’ve worked with him in many films. He has played both the villain and the good Samaritan in my films with him. He was never shy of changing sides on screen. Contrary to his serious image Pran Saab is every entertaining on the sets. He would always have stories to tell and he would tell them in a very interesting way. But once the camera was on he was fully into his character. I think he deserved to be honoured long back.”
Raj Babbar: “That an actor who has excelled for 70 years is finally being honoured is a matter of great pride and relief for the entire film industry.I have always been hugely inspired by Pran Saab’s personal and professional conduct.We worked together in Durga where I was struck by how softspoken Pran Saab was. When the camera was on his voice would transform into a boom. He played both black and white characters with equal aplomb. When he was a villain he was despicable for years and years.When he started doing positive roles he was equally effectual in what he did.Woh kehte hai na, ek kalaakar ka noor uske kaam mein jhalakta hai.When Pran Saab played villains he looked absolutely evil.When he was a good man in Upkar, Zanjeer, Adikhar he looked noble.His elaborate get-ups at a time when there was none of the comfort of airconditioned vanity vans were exemplary for actors like us. In that sweltering heat on location Pran Saab would sit with the beard, costumes, makeup and the accessories.Like Pran Saab I too refused to let myself be slotted in any one image. Like Pran Saab I’ve shuffled between black and white roles throughout my career. I have played the leading and the villain keeping in mind Pran Saab’s ability to cross over from one moral zone to another without tripping over. I am happy Pran Saab has received this award during his lifetime.I’ve heard he isn’t keeping good health.I wish him quick recovery.
Saira Banu: “Very well deserved.What a range of roles and emotions he has portrayed for decades!I’ve worked with him in the strong, negative desh drohi image of Purab Aur Paschim and the comic trickster in Victoria 203.What a gamut of emotions!”
Hema Malini: “It’s wonderful to see someone so deserving get the award.I’ve worked with him in some of his best films like Kasauti and Naseeb.”
Shabana Azmi: “It’s a well-deserved recognition.Pran Saab was so effective as a villain that generations didn’t name their children Pran, although it’s such a lovely name for fear they would infuse villainy in their kids by naming them after the ‘villain’! In real life he’s a gentleman ,well-read and an aficionado of the Arts.”
Pinky Sikand (Pran’s daughter): “It’s a proud moment for all of us. (Responding to Pran Saab getting the honour too late)…Pran Saab has no complaints or regrets about life career or the film industry. He is a content humanbeing.”