Pran Krishan Sikand, known to his fans as only Pran, passed away at the Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai on Friday evening following a respiratory failure. He was 93.
The thespian was awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke award recently at the time when Indian cinema was celebrating its 100 years. One of the most versatile actors of Bollywood, Pran was also India's most popular villain.
Since he was unable to come personally to receive the award, I&B minister Manish Tewari had visited his home in Mumbai to present the coveted honour.
An extremely stylised actor, Pran added a new dimension to his roles. Remembered best in negative presentations for Madhumati, Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai, Himalaya Ki Godh Mein and Ram Aur Shyam, this talented actor became a character artiste after Manoj Kumar's blockbuster, Upkaar.
He went on to give stellar performances in Johnny Mera Naam, Victoria 203, Bobby, Beimaan and Zanjeer amongst scores of other memorable films.
In Zanjeer, he played the role of a Pathan alongside Amitabh Bachchan, whose super stardom started immediately after that. From 1969 to 1982, he remained the highest paid character actor of Hindi cinema.
Pran, who was born in Delhi, was also a champion for justice. In 1972, Pran declined to accept the Filmfare award for Best supporting actor for Beimaan because he felt that Ghulam Mohammad had been wrongly denied the Best music award for Pakeezah.
He was also amongst the few eminent film stars to protest against the Emergency and - along with Dev Anand, I.S. Johar and Shatrughan Sinha - raised his voice for the restoration of democracy.
Starting off as an actor in the early forties in a Punjabi film, Yamla Jat, he also played a lead role opposite Noor Jehan in Khandaan and received praise for his histrionics in Halaku.
In his private life, Pran was considered to be quite the opposite of the dark roles he essayed on screen and was often described as a 'Gentleman Villain'.
Pran is survived by his wife Shukla Sikand and two sons, Arvind and Sunil, and daughter Pinky.