Special Series: Getting to know Pran
In this Nostalgia series, we salute some of our greatest movie stars, legends like Pran, who worked in over 400 films in a career spanning 60 years.
Pran Krishan Sikand made every part he protrayed -- whether it was sinister sophisticated villains or positive characters like the Pathan in Zanjeer -- his very own, giving each role a stamp of unbelievable class.
In the first part of this month-long series saluting Pransaab's most memorable career, his daughter Pinky Bhalla -- speaking exclusively to Rediff.com's Patcy N reveals a fascinating part of her father few people know about:
When we were young, we did not know our father was such a big name in the film industry. My father never discussed films at home.
We got all the film magazines at home and read the gossip in them. He would read them too, we thought he would talk about it, but he never did. We were really quite cut off from the film industry.
Image: Pran in Adalat
'We attended very few film parties'
There would be parties after the premieres of films he acted in, but we attended very few of them.
We would usually attend parties hosted by those really close to the family like Raj Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor, Manoj uncle (Kumar), Dilip Kumar.
Raj Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor, Manoj Kumar and Dilip Kumar were very close friends of my dad's. Dilip uncle, my father and my father-in-law were good friends. All these people would meet at least once or twice a week just to party.
We were sent to boarding school in the fifth standard. My classmates knew I was Pran's daughter, but no one treated me differently.
I have never been on shoots in Mumbai with him, but I did go a few times for outdoor shoots -- to Shimla for Purab Aur Paschim, Kulu-Manali for a Rishi Kapoor movie, to Madras for Dus Lakh and to Mahableshwar for Sawan Ki Ghata. Very rarely did our whole family go with him.
Image: Pran with his wife (seated), daughter Pinky Bhalla (on his left) and his family on his 92nd birthday
'My father wanted to be a photographer'
My father wanted to be a photographer and was working in a shop in Shimla where he learnt photography. Then he went to Lahore, and that's where he got his first break.
When my father signed his first film, Yamla Jat (1940), he did not tell his father he was acting in a film because his father would not approve. My grandfather was a civil engineer.
When an article appeared in the newspaper about the upcoming film and mentioned my father's name, he told his sisters to hide the paper from their father!
By the time the movie was released, my grandfather was okay with him acting in films.
He played his first positive role in Khandana with Noor Jehan in 1942.
Image: Pran and Helen in Gumnaam
'He never wanted to live in Mumbai, but couldn't go back to Lahore'
My father had insisted my mother leave Lahore because of the unrest, so she was staying with her sister in Indore. Dad came to Indore for my brother's first birthday on August 11, and intended to go back to Lahore, but couldn't.
He never wanted to live in Mumbai, but couldn't go back to Lahore. He had to start all over again, and it was quite a struggle. We knew very little about it because our parents never told us about it.
I know a few things like money was running out for them. When they came to Mumbai they stayed at the Taj Mahal hotel, but gradually had to move to smaller hotels and then into paying guest accommodation.
Image: Pran and Mumtaz in Brahmachari
'My father is very generous'
I was born six years after Independence. By then he was established, but we still lived in a rented place. We bought a house when I was three years old.
He became very popular and by the 1960s he was very busy, but he took time off for his kids. He taught me cycling and roller skating. He would play chess with my brothers.
Whatever he could do, time permitting, he did. He is good at mathematics and card tricks. He was good at drawing and I remember his helping me with some school projects.
He has a photographic memory; he is good at shayari and recites poems.
My father was always concerned about us if we were travelling and would keep calling to see if we had reached safely.
I remember being mobbed by his fans when we went out. If my father went out on the streets, someone or the other would come to touch his feet.
Once we went to Punjab for my father's brother's wedding, and the fans went crazy there. They stopped the car and wouldn't let him move. This happens more in places outside Mumbai where the source of entertainment is just movies, but he doesn't get flustered about it.
My father is very generous. He has helped lots of people that we know of only now when they write to us about it.
Image: Pran in Dharamveer
'He would prepare for his roles at home'
His older films like Halaku are amazing, his get-up in that film is superb, he has a change of voice and he has done it brilliantly.
He would prepare for his roles at home. If he was doing a new role he would go through books and look up pictures to get the look right.
If he had seen somebody walk in a particular way he would try to copy that, he would sometimes rehearse his dialogues at home if he got them in advance because in those days there were no bound scripts.
My father reads in Urdu so he needed his dialogues in Urdu only.
My father stopped working in movies when he had a heart problem 15 years ago. My parents still stay in Bandra (a Mumbai suburb). My brother goes there every day for lunch and I visit them three or four times a week and we all have lunch together. They always have somebody visiting them.
Image: Pran in Don
'Now I will be 100 and then out'
Initially, he did not want a party, but when he entered the hall, he was very happy to see so many people around him.
He told my brother, 'Now I will be 100 and then out.'
I just want to tell my dad, 'You can never be out, you will always be in our hearts and our souls, you will always be "not out" for us.'
Image: Pran with his great grandson Ryan