Bollywood's hero villain bids alvida

Mumbai, July 13 (IANS) Legendary actor Pran, the Bollywood villain audiences loved to hate, was cremated at the Shivaji Park electric crematorium here Saturday in the presence of his family and a handful of members from the Hindi film fraternity. He was 93.

Pran, who showcased his natural acting acumen in as many as over 400 projects in a span of six decades, died at the Lilavati Hospital here late Friday evening, following prolonged illness.

His family members - wife Shukla, sons Arvind and Sunil, and daughter Pinky, as well as his beloved grandchildren, along with scores of fans and colleagues from the film fraternity were in mourning. Social networking sites were also abuzz with celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan and Dilip Kumar, as well as common people paying their tributes via messages and photographs.

Condoling the death of the "icon", Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Pran's "versatility in etching a lasting impression on cinema audience's mind improved with time for which he was bestowed with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award."

The thespian, real name Pran Kishan Sikand, was bestowed the 44th Dadasaheb Phalke Award for Lifetime Achievement earlier this year. His condition was frail, and his family and friends felt the honour came too late in the day for an actor, whose veratility and body of work set an example for generations to come.

Pran's funeral saw only a few members from the Hindi movie industry in attendance. Veteran writer Gulzar was among the early attendees, and he was followed by Karan Johar, Shakti Kapoor, Shatrughan Sinha, Anupam Kher, Danny Denzongpa, Raj Babbar, as well as megastar Amitabh Bachchan and writer Salim Khan.

Several stars were expected to pay their last respects to the thespian, but many like Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Arjun Rampal, Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit chose the social networking route to say their "aakhri salaam".

Amitabh remembered Pran as a "considerate human", who was "admirable" and a "delightful companion", while Dilip Kumar recounted how he used to share Punjabi jokes with the late actor.

During his long and prolific career, Pran was marked for his roles as a villain, hero and even a character artist.

His journey began as a photographer in 1940. But a chance meeting with a film producer turned his life - he gave the actor his debut role in a film called "Yamla Jat".

Later, when Pran moved from Lahore to Bombay (now Mumbai), with the help of renowned writer Saadat Hasan Manto and actor Shyam, Pran got a break in Bombay Talkies' film "Ziddi", in which Dev Anand played the lead role.

That set the momentum for the versatile talent, who brought new mannerisms and style and lent new dimensions to negative characters.

If he played villain convincingly in films like "Madhumati", "Ziddi" and "Ram Aur Shyam", with the same ease he slipped into character roles like the lovable Malang Chacha in "Upkar" or a loyal friend Sher Khan in "Zanjeer".

Among his memorable movies are "Azaad", "Madhumati", "Devdas", "Dil Diya Dard Liya", "Ram Aur Shyam", "Aadmi", "Ziddi", "Munimji", "Amardeep", "Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hai", "Chori Chori", and "Chhalia".

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