As an actor and as a film persona he has given dignity and stardom to the villain and khalnayak in the film industry. As a person he was at par excellence. Whether it is me, or others who have met him in personal capacity, all came out with this shockingly pleasant experience of having met one of the nicest persons in the film business.
I personally had the pleasure of getting his blessings and guidance. To me he was like a parent and the person with most magnanimity. It was the time when I had started playing some of the roles like Soni Mahiwal (1984) and Heer Ranjha that he had done before. During the set of Soni Mahiwal, where he was my co-star and was playing Soni's father, I ran up to him to ask him how could I reprise his role. It was his sheer magnanimity that he kept saying I have given a new dimension to the character.
I have shared screen space with him in many films. I had the fortune of him coming to my make-up room and reworking my look. He personally stuck some of the moustaches and supervised everything so that I look best as my character. There have been many instances where in the middle of the night I have run to his house for advice and guidance. He always guided me patiently. Some of the legendary roles that I have done have had his secret participation.
To me, he was no lesser than a hero. I remember Amitabh Bachchan's statement where he says that in Zanjeer, Pran shab was the bigger name and he brought dignity and true attention to the characters in the movie, though he was not a villain in the film.
He was responsible for making the villain - the star. I was in constant touch with him until the end.
(As told to Dibyojyoti Baksi)