The obits call him Bollywood’s most feared villain. Not for me. To me Pran Saheb was the most hero-like of all the villains of Hindi cinema. By hero-like I don’t mean the most good looking, that was of course Vinod Khanna, before he inevitably turned a hero. Pran didn’t strike terror in my childhood heart (as Amrish Puri did), watching his fims aired on Doordarshan on a black & white Keltron TV. Pran mesmerised, with his hypnotic eyes and steely voice. His movements and postures had an elegance that we do not usually associate with villainy. His was always a dignified presence, much like the hero’s.
Also he was not always the hero’s arch enemy. Zanjeer‘s Sher Khan epitomises friendship and is the most memorable of the roles he played and therefore is on the unofficial Google doodle in his honour.