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Pran: Filmoon Ke Jaan

by Biman Baruah

(An overgenerous tribute to Villain of the Millennium)

Mohd Rafi and Pran

Mohd Rafi and Pran

Pran Krishan Sikand popularly known as Pran passed way on 12th July, 2013 at the age of 93 who was born on 12 February, 1920 in Old Delhi to a wealthy Punjabi family. Pran started his livelihood as a photographer and accidentally got his first role in Punjabi film Yamala Jat (1940) in Lahore. He had done his first Hindi Film as romantic hero opposite Noor Jahan in Khandaan (1942). He acted more than 20 films in Lahore from 1942 to 1946. Due to partition in 1947, there was break in Pran’s film career for a while and he shifted his base from Lahore to Bombay.

Mohammed Rafi Saheb and Pran Saheb had following top ten similarities.

  1. Both were the legends of Hindi Cinema and great human beings too.
  2. Both started their film career in Punjabi Films in Lahore, Mohammed Rafi in GUL BALOCH (1944) and Pran in YAMALA JAT (1940).
  3. Both help various people in Film Industry or outsiders financially at the time of need.
  4. Director Manmohan Desai was very fond of Mohammed Rafi and Pran. Trio worked together in hit films like Chhalia, Bluf Master, Dharam Veer, Amar Akbar Anthony and Naseeb.
  5. Both had a unique voice which can be modulated as the situation demand. Mohammed Rafi modulated his singing voice matching with the actor’s voice so that audience will feel that the actor singing on screen. Pran Sahab modulated his soft voice to lure, abuse, warn and as per his role or situation demand.
  6. Both were universal in their field for decades. Rafi Sahab was the universal voice of all actors and Pran Sahab was the universal villain with all actors from Ashok Kumar to Rishi Kapoor.
  7. Both were best known in the Film Industry as a “man of principle” who raised their voices for any unmerited act and practice.
  8. Both were sports lover, Mohammed Rafi: Tennis and Pran: Football.
  9. Though both were highest paid singer and actor of their time, they were not at all money minded and money is not factor for their work. Mohammed Rafi charged Re. 1 from music director Nisar Wazmi and Pran charged Re. 1 from Raj Kapoor for acting in Bobby.
  10. Both were passed away in the month of July, the holy month of Ramzaan.

Though he started his career in Hindi Films as a hero in films like Khandaan (1942),  Grihasti (1948), he got accolades of villain after working in Bombay Talkies’s ZIDDI (1948) with Dev Anand and Kamini Kaushal. He was typecast as villain with Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Raj Kapoor in 1950-60s and with Rajendra Kumar, Shammi Kapoor, Sunil Dutt, Joy Mukherjee, Biswajeet, Dharmendra in 1960s. No Producer-Director dares to cast him in their films, as character and supporting artist for level of Pran’s dare devil villainy. But actor, producer-director Manoj Kumar made an exception and cast him as a handicap war hero in Upkar. The huge success of the film and popularity of his role as “Malang Chacha” creates more opportunity for Pran in lead central or character roles. Manoj Kumar and Pran acted together in Purab Aur Pachim, Be-iman, Sanyasi and Dus Numbari. He was also known for his comic timings for acting with Kishore Kumar and Mehmood in number of comedy films.

Pran was best known for his impressive body language and he was very eccentrically related with songs. In 1940s, the romantic duets picturised on Pran, “Udd Jaa Udd Jaa Panchhi”from Khandaan (1942) and “Tere Naaz Uthane Ko Jee Chahta Hai” from Grihasti (1948) were very popular. Mukesh sung for Pran when he was hero in 1940s, but probably Rafi Sahab never sung for hero Pran. He was in the frame in the popular duet songs like “Dil Ki Umangein Hai Jawaan” from Munimji (1955), “Tum Kisi Aur Ko Chahogi Toh Musqil Hogi” from Dil Hi To Hai (1963) and “Husn Chala Kuchh Aisi Chaal” from Bluf Master (1963) picturised on lead actor-actress. In the Munimji song, Pran sung himself few un-tune lines for himself. There was a multi-singer song in the film NANHA FARISHTA (1969), “Bachche Mein Hai Bhagwan” sung by Mohd. Rafi, Manna Dey and Mahendra Kapoor. The song was picturised on trio Pran, Anwar Hussain and Ajit played as dacoits in the film and they kidnapped a loving child who makes them reform as good men, so they sing this song for the child. Unfortunately, Manna Dey sung for Pran in this song.

As a universal voice of Indian Cinema, Mohammed Rafi sung for Pran in ADHIKAR (1971),DHARMA (1973), SHANKAR DADA (1976), GANGA KI SAUGANDH (1978) and MAAN GAYE USTAD (1981). The solo, “Jeena Toh Hai Ussi Ka Jisne Yeh Raaz Jana, Hai Kaam Aadmi Ka Auron Ke Kaam Aana” from Adhikar and the duet, “Raaz Ki Baat Keh Doon Tu Jane Mehfil Mein Phir Kiya Ho” from Dharma were super hit qawwali composed by R.D. Burman and Sonik-Omi respectively. The solo from the Adhikar portrays real life philosophy of both the legends. The duet from Dharma picturised on Pran and Bindu made audiences humming & jumping and the film was declared as musical hit for this song. The lovable Rafi solo, “Chal Musafir Teri Manzil Door Hai” from Ganga Ki Saugandh composed by Kalyanji-Anandji did not get much popularity which gives a message to common man to become strong in critical situation. The solo “Ameeron Watan Se Garibi Hatao” from Shankar Dada and multi-singer song, “Mera Ek Sawaal Hai, Swaal Ka Jawaab Do”  from Maan Gaye Ustad again composed by Rafi loyalist composer duo Sonik-Omi with social message.

The other popular songs picturised on Pran Saheb sung by Manna Dey, Kishore Kumar and Mahendra Kapoor. The emotional number from Upkar, “Kasme Wade Pyar Wafa Sab, Baatein Hain Baaton Ka Kya” and superb qawwali from Zanjeer, “Yaari Hai Imaan Meri, Yaar Meri Zindegi” both sung by Manna Dey for Pran are everlasting composition of Kalyanji-Anandji. The song “Yari Hai Iman Mera” won Filmfare Best Lyricist Award for Gulshan Bawra and nominated for Filmfare Best Playback Singer for Manna Dey. Kishore Kumar also sung two popular comic numbers for Pran, “Hum Bolega To Bologe Ke Bolta Hai” from KASAUTI and “Micheal Daru Pike Danga Karta Hai” from MAJBOOR which were became enormous hit. Mahendra Kapoor also sung for Pran in VICTORIA NO. 203, a duet,“Do Bechare Bina Sahare” and in ZINDA DIL, a solo “Shaam Suhani Aayee” very soulfully.

Pran Saheb acted with his professional and real life friend Ashok Kumar in 27 films from Afsana (1951) to Raja Aur Rana (1984), out which 20 were hits. Amitabh Bachchan was not able to do well in first one dozen films, so decided to leave Bombay for his home town Allahabad with bag-baggage. Pran Sahab insist him to try his luck by doing a last film and suggested Amitabh’s name to Producer-Director, Prakash Mehra  for ZANJEER which was already declined by Dev Anand, Raaj Kumar and Dharmendra. The film was a big hit with a point of attraction having Pran in the role of “Sher Khan” in stylish Pathani get-up which established Amitabh Bachchan in Hindi Cinema with the title of “Angrey Young Man”. Later they work together in 15 films Kasuati (1974), Majboor (1974), Amar Akbar Anthony (1977), Don (1978), Ganga Ki Saugandh (1978), Dostana (1980), Naseeb (1981), Kaalia (1981), Nastik (1983), Andha Kanoon (1983), Sharaabi (1984), Shahenshah (1988), Toofan (1989), Jadugaar (1989) and Mrityudata (1997). On death of Pran, Amitabh Bachchan remarked him as “Magnificent Pillar” of Film Industry.

For his contribution to Indian Cinema, Government of India honoured him with Padma Bhushan in 2001 and Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2013. He was awarded the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. He also won three Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award for UPKAR (1967), AANSOO BAN GAYE PHOOL (1969) and BE-IMAAN (1972). In 1972, as a man of principle he refused to accept the award for Be-imaan, since he had an opinion that Filmfare Best Music Director Award should have given to Ghulam Mohammed for Pakeezah and not to Shankar-Jaikishan for Be-imaan.

Pran Biography

Pran Sahab best known for his stylish make-ups using different types of caps, wigs and smoking a cigarette or bidi different way in various roles. He was a very conscious actor who had a true sense of villainy, fatherhood and comic timings. Though Pran acted almost 360 films in last six decades, he will be best remembered for his role as “CHENGEZ KHAN” in Halaku (1956), “RAKA” in Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hain (1960), “MALANG CHACHA” in Upkar (1967), “SHER KHAN” in Zanjeer (1973). Though, he was a character or supporting actor in his later films, his role in some films more imperative and powerfully built than lead actor. His name always appears on screen in name casting as And PRAN. The mannerism of Mohammed Rafi and Pran will be long live in Indian celluloid. Pran’s life will always be remembered in Indian celluloid as a hero, villain and dignified character artiest.

Goodbye “BARKHURDAAR” …………. And  PRAN.

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14 Blog Comments to “Pran: Filmoon Ke Jaan”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wonderful writing. Mr. Biman you have done lot of research work. Rafi sahab and Pran…..both will remain in our hearts for ever.

  2. khaja Aliuddin,MD says:

    Paresh Dubey Sahib, You are right. This song was picturized on Pran and Nigaar in Sheesh Mahal, music by Vasant Desai and lyrics by Naazim Raanipati in the year 1950.

    An die-hard fan of Rafi Sahab,
    Dr. Khaja Aliuddin

  3. PARESH DUBEY says:

    I remember Rafi saab sang a song for PRAN JI in SHEESH MAHAL 1950 SONG WAS jise dhoodti firti hai meri nazar tum wohi to nahin ……WITH geeta dutt.
    music by Vasant desai .a minerva movitone film.M I RIGHT OR NOT

  4. Anwar-ul-Haque says:

    Dear Biman Baruah,

    Thanks for a beautiful article on a great actor, and Pran!

    One more beautiful song sung by Rafi Sahab and picturised on Pran Sahab is from film “Do jhoot (1975)” and it goes “Na mujh ko hichki aayi, na paaon mera phisla”.



  5. Jay-Bee says:

    Rafi sahib did sing at least one song for hero Pran sahib (thanks to you-tube) The movie is Sohrab Modi’s “Sheesh Mahal” md Vasant Desai the song “Jise Dhoondti Phirti” duet by rafi-geeta. Hope there are more as Pran the hero. Rafi sahab also sang for Pran in Lakhomein Ek, but don’t know if Pran was the hero or Mehmood? Also in Maan Gaye Ustad. And in Gaddar md LP rafi sahab sang the tiltle song for Pran, Vinod Khanna, Ram Kumar etc.

  6. ali says:

    only two names in Bollywood be not compare with any………..

  7. nitish sinha says:

    beautiful article.
    Putting aside all the info about rafisaab’s first song available and if we believe an interview of shamshad begum taken by a senior journalist in his book, rafisaab debut his singing career with her in yamala jat very early in 1940 (and not in gul baloch!!)
    waiting for the reaction by our fellow music lovers …………..

  8. Binu Nair says:

    Lots of Info…..Versatile Pran Saheb. Adhikar Quawali stands out for Mohd Rafi singing and its lyrics and tune by RDB.

    Pran Saheb retuned his award when the notorious movie Be-imaan was given the Filmfare award and Pakeezah’s claim was rejected. Many had alleged then that Money was paid to get that Black Lady Trophy called Filmfare award – for Be-Imaan.
    The composer had also proudly claimed that “This” award is purchased By Be-Imaan ways and the movie name is also Be-imaan.

    We are talking of Pran Saheb who gave Unparalled Performances in Ram Aur Shyam, Zanzeer and so many movies. He is one of a Kind.

    Sadly, God does’nt make great actors or singers in Present times.

    We miss our great.

    From the Rafi Foundation

    Cell : 9833 250 701

  9. u.k.achan says:

    “Main Chandan Hoon” sang rafi Saab for Pran Saab in the Qwali with Ashaji.
    It is Rafi saab’s greatness that he sang for everybody with the same elan……
    “Maine Rakha Hai Muhabbat” for Mehmood,”Sar Jo thera Takarai” for Johny
    Walker,”Tum Apni Saheli se” for Prem Chopra……the list goes on.Remember
    Saab ke mill ke lagta hai aisa koi nahi hai mera…the way his voice caresses each word or the way he matches the shehnai in”Taqdeer ka Fasana” or “Yeh Zulf agar khul ke bikhar jaye to acha” for Raaj Kumar.Rafi saab the great.

  10. K P Hassan says:

    Dear Bimanji, your article on the life of veteran actor Pran Sahab is excellent. Is true that as our beloved Rafi Sahab, Pran Sahab was also a gentle and humble man. Thanks for giving us valuable information.

  11. shammi says:

    Thank you for a great article and both gentlemen and the word gentlemen really does apply in this case to both of these well loved and respected legends in their own field. May they be remembered for many decades to come as both have brought so much joy and entertainment to the bollywood industry for many many years.

  12. sabnavees says:

    Biman Ji its a very GOOD article & you have done a tough home work to prepare this article. So many things in common between our Rafi Sahab & Pran Sahab have come to light. Thank you so much.
    Apunake mor onek Dhonnobaad.

  13. Dear Baruah ji thanks for this beautiful article on two legends of Bollywood.
    Pran saab was played villain or charactor roles in reel life but actually Pran saab was a hero in real life. Many stories we have read on his generocity and kind nature. Such person in today’s world very hard to findout.
    Same our great rafi saab was the singer of millenium and universal favourite.
    I salute the both legends.
    Birendra Singh Bisht

  14. r l arora says:

    Excellent presentation of facts by Baruah ji. bundle of thanks for the similarities of two great legends, Rafi Saab and Pran Saab.

    I was listening Rafi Saab’s gazal Rang or NOOR ki baraat kise pesh karu when i received this beautiful email about similarities of two legends. i am now listening the songs of the related email. wud hear later rang or noor ki barat.

    kindly keep sending all such pleasing facts as these give true energy to the soul.

    my rich regards to Baruah ji

    r l arora

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