24 June, 2021

Pranayama: Evil Breath

The villain was meant to be hated, but that is what has come to be loved about him

Pranayama: Evil Breath
There is a photograph in this book of Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor and Pran at a party. It is the late 1960s and already Raj has put on weight and Dilip’s looks do not have the same Andaaz. Only slim, pencil-moustached Pran, whisky glass in hand, appears untouched by time—handsome and fit. The secret of Pran’s success as a villain was always that he was not just the "zalil badmash", he was also the hero’s love rival. He was often better-looking than the hero—curled lips notwithstanding—and it was plausible that the heroine could be swept off her stilettos by his suave, slit-eyed charm.

Pran starred in more than 350 films as the villain extraordinaire. He was sophisticated, well-dressed—even when it was the ubiquitous white jacket—and he was evil down to his gentlemanly white shoes. His early years in Lahore saw him cast as both hero or villain but once he had arrived in Bombay after the Partition, his oeuvre was the stylish scoundrel. He succeeded so well that he played the baddie to three generations of heroes. In those early days, he was already so typecast...

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