Veteran actor Pran’s demise after a prolonged illness on Friday (July 12) night left a sense of emptiness in every fan’s heart, including his closest friend, legendary actor Dilip Kumar. Even though Dilip sahab’s wife Saira Banu and the rest of the staffers learnt about the sad news on Friday night, it wasn’t disclosed to the senior actor till the next day.
Madhumati directed by Bimal Roy stars Dilip Kumar, Vyjayantimala, Pran, and Johnny Walker.
“It’s a rare thing that Pran and I were friends in the real sense of friendship. We met at the work place and informally caught up as often as we could either at his house or mine since we lived in the same locality in Bandra,” says Dilip Kumar.
Even though the two veteran actors were in touch, gradually their visits were restricted due to Pran’s failing health. The last time Pran visited the Kumars was on Dilip Kumar’s birthday (December 11) two years ago. Otherwise, Pran’s daughter Pinky was their source of connect. “At work we were invariably pitted against each other, our characters were always caught in conflict over something or the other. It used to be very amusing for onlookers to watch the change that would come over him when he faced the camera with me in the same frame, after all the friendliness and affection they had seen a while ago between us. Well, that’s the challenge we actors face all the time. To become what we are not in reality and to assume the character and persona of an unfamiliar chap who has no resemblance whatsoever to our real self is not as easy as it appears,” Dilip Kumar recalls.
They worked together in some of the most memorable films of the time. “We enjoyed being together during the shooting of Madhumati (1958). We shot in the forest, where everybody else spoke in Bengali while we conversed heartily in Punjabi. He loved the evenings we spent sitting around a bonfire reciting good poetry,” says the actor, reminiscing about the beautiful bygone era.
They had some wonderful times shooting together especially in Chennai for Ram Aur Shyam (1967). “We were simultaneously shooting for Aadmi (1968) those days. We had just completed Dil Diya Dard Liya (1966) and the joke on the sets in Madras was that Pran aapka peechha nahin chodta (Pran isn’t leaving you be). It was fine with me and him because we liked each other’s company and respected each other as artistes and co-stars,” says the legendary actor.
Dilip Kumar says that it was not easy at all when Pran plunged into those wily, indecent and deceitful characters that he played in the movies, and that made him famous as a first-rate villain. “It must have taken quite some effort for him to keep the goodness, gentlemanliness and honesty in his real nature subdued and hidden under the ferocious sneer and fiery looks he adopted for that transient moment before the camera. I salute him,” says the yesteryear star.