This is my acclamation of an actor par excellence and there are others who will write better praise than me. My acclamation though focuses on my favorite Pran character - Ramesh Thakur in the Movie Dil Diya Dard Liya (took pain in exchange for heart)
I saw the said movie on Doordarshan a long time back and the character still sits in my mind, the vehemence, the hatred and the "look" he gives as he eyes Dilip Kumar's character as if he were the lowest of life forms. Dilip kumar was consumed by those eyes. As I watched the film, the grey cells in the back of my mind were churning "Which book is this story similar to?" I scratched and pondered all the while watching the movie. A few days later I was reading Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights and then it stuck me that I saw a movie adapted from this story and I conveniently forgot the title of the film and there it was back in reverse, reading the book I kept trying to recollect the name of the film. All I knew was Pran playing Hindley Earnshaw with so great an elan that I waited to watch the film again just to watch Hindley Earnshaw brought to life by Pran. Tis was a period of technology ice age. There were no one in my very small circle of friends and acquaintances in Hyderabad who saw b&w hindi cinema and there was no internet to run a query on a search engine. And doordarshan was not very generous in replaying that film again. I waited for them to broadcast it again now that I knew the book and wanted to match frame and page. There is a scene towards the middle where Dilip Kumar's Shankar (Raja saheb) asks for his love (Played by Waheeda Rehman) and towards the end of his suit, he says मैं तुमसे अपनी प्यार का भीक मांगता हूँ | (I beg you to give me my love)
The camera then pans to show Pran in close up and then draws away but still focussed on the eyes as they grow dark, pained and finally defiant. Ramesh Thakur (nee Pran) goes hysterical (and does nor recover after) and with a lot of glee and spiteful pleasure retorts
तुम हमेशा से सिर्फ भीक मांग सकते हो। तुम भिकारी ही रहोगे | (you will always remain a beggar) or something to that effect.
The above line is a long monologue and Pran's eyes are in sync with the dialogue as they do a deadly dance ranging from fear, defiance, contempt and finally doing the dance of victory and elation as Ramesh thakur realizes that even though he has lost everything, he still has power over Shankar (Raja Saheb) and he exercises the power to deny Shankar his love.
After that scene bollywood takes over and spoils the film.
C'est la Pran that stays with me since in later years Pran the actor was replaced by Pran the actor in not so great movies. Movies like Zanzeer, Victoria 203 and many other such stupid roles dented my awe and respect for the actor. But then along came two other movies (but none in class of Dil Diya aur Dard liya) Parichay and Chori Chori. They restored my faith in the actor par excellence and tis no wonder that the film credits would always go "And Pran"
When I am publishing this post, Pran was awarded the Dada saheb phalke award and I am sure the mandarins in our bureaucracy and news media (print and visual) would talk about the inconsequential roles and leave out Pran's pie la mode roles in the age of Black and white cinema...
NOTE: The movies mentioned above are in the chronological order in which I watched them and not in the order of their release dates.