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India's legendary actor Pran dies at 93

Updated Jul 13, 2013 12:12am
Pran was best known for his roles as a villain from 1942 to 1991 in movies such as ''Zanjeer'' (Shackles), ''Bari Behen'' (Elder Sister), Azaad (A Free Man) and ''Johnny Mera Naam'' (Johnny Is My Name).    — File Photo by AFP
Pran was best known for his roles as a villain from 1942 to 1991 in movies such as ''Zanjeer'' (Shackles), ''Bari Behen'' (Elder Sister), Azaad (A Free Man) and ''Johnny Mera Naam'' (Johnny Is My Name). — File Photo by AFP

NEW DELHI: Bollywood's legendary actor Pran, who played both heroes and villains in several Hindi film classics over six decades, died of pneumonia at Mumbai's Lilavati Hospital on Friday, his doctor said. He was 93.

Pran acted in more than 350 Hindi movies in a long, prolific career dating back to the 1940s.

He played a vast range of roles, a hero, villain and character actor, but was best known for his villains.

Sanjeev Mehta, his doctor, said Pran Krishan Sikand, popularly known as Pran, was hospitalised more than two weeks ago in the Mumbai hospital and died on Friday.

He was presented the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the Indian government's highest honor for cinema, in May at his Mumbai home by Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari.

He also received several other prestigious awards, including Filmfare magazine's ''Lifetime Achievement Award'' in 1997 and the 'Villain of the Millennium' by Stardust magazine three years later.

He acted as a hero from 1940 to 1947 in hit films like ''Khandaan'' (family) and ''Aurat''” (Woman).

He became best known for his roles as a villain from 1942 to 1991 in movies such as ''Bari Behen'' (Elder Sister), ''Azaad'' (A Free Man), ''Jis Desh Men Ganga Behti Hai'' (A Country Where the Ganges River Flows),'' ''Half Ticket,'' and ''Johnny Mera Naam'' (Johnny Is My Name).

Pran is especially remembered for his supporting role in 1973's smash hit ''Zanjeer'' (Shackles), which helped launch Amitabh Bachchan to superstardom. Pran went on to team with Bachchan in over a dozen films.

He is survived by his widow, two sons and a daughter.

His cremation will take place in Mumbai, India's financial and entertainment capital, on Saturday, the Press Trust of India news agency said.

The son of a civil engineer, Pran wanted to become a professional photographer.

However, a chance meeting with writer Wali Mohammad Wali in Lahore, now in Pakistan, led to his first role opposite actress Ranjhana in a Punjabi film ''Yamla Jat'' in 1940.

He acted in several films produced in Lahore before shifting to Mumbai after the partition of India in 1947 by British colonialists.

A year later, he got a role in ''Ziddi'' (Haughty) with Dev Anand and Kamini Kaushal as lead actors.

Pran never looked back after that. He acted as a villain in several hit movies with Bollywood's top actors, including Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand.

Bachchan, recalling the actor's magic in a foreword to Pran's biography, ''And Pran'' by film journalist Bunny Reuben, wrote, ''Onscreen villainy is a thankless job which Pran accepted and carried out with such a degree of perfection that he became the actor the entire nation loved to hate,'' the Press Trust of India reported.