The 93-year-old actor recalls his journey as a Dadasaheb Phalke Award comes his way. When I was acting in Punjabi films, I never thought in my wildest of dreams that I would later become a villain of Hindi films. I still have fresh and fond memories of my debut in Hindi , Ziddi in 1948. In one shot, I had to look straight into the eyes of Dev Anand and smile with an evil intention.
Dev Anand reacted with his divine smile, and I openly confessed after the shot, “Dev, you have eclipsed me.” He was polite enough to say that we were equally good in the shot. I got branded as a wicked villain from the 50s, and my dialogue delivery as well as style helped me carve a secure niche for myself. Getting fed up as a villain, I used to often tell my dear friends Dilip Kumar and Shammi Kapoor how boring it was to be repetitive. It was ultimately the X-ray eyes of young Manoj Kumar who cast me as Malang Chacha in Upkaar in 1967. He totally changed my image and extracted commendable work out of me.
As I receive the news of winning this award, I thank God Almighty and all the performers as well as directors who are responsible for my getting such an honour. Also I cannot but bow down my head to my audience which has made me what I am, Pran. I feel villainy should be performed with a right blend of dignity and reality.