Retrograde. Bamboozlement! More Bamboozlement!

Pran's Debut

Taken from an old article by K. Razdan for a film magazine.
The story of his long, long struggle begins from Lahore, now in Pakistan, It was 1938 - one moonlit midnight. A young boy of eighteen, who was employed in a photographer's shop on a monthly salary of Rs.150/-,stood in a relaxed mood before a 'paan' shop. He was slightly tipsy because he had taken one or two "chhotas". He was handsome, smart and he wore a confident look on his face. He waited for his turn to pick up the 'pan' from the 'paanwala'...and here, he had a date with his destiny.
Walli Sahib, the well-known writer (who later married Muntaz Shanti, the heroine of the Bombay Talkies hit."Kismat") arrived there, also to buy a 'paan'. He stared at the young man, examined him from head to toe and felt he had found the one he was looking for. Walli Sahib was fanatically on the look-out for a young man to fit the villain's role for a Punjabi film. Walli Sahib, who was himself slightly high in spirits at that time, offered the role to the young man who, in fact, did not care much for the offer. the young man, however, asked him curiously,"May I know your name, please?" "Walli," Walli Sahib replied. The young man laughed mischievously and muttered to himself that everyone after a few drinks at midnight considers himself to be a "Walli". Walli, in Urdu, means a self-realized person. the young man reluctantly promised to turn up at the studio but he actually forgot all about it the very next moment. After three or four days, he went to see an English movie at a matinee show and as luck would have it, Walli Sahib once again bumped into him during the interval. Walli Sahib asked him,"What happened?You did not turn up. Why?" The young man realized the seriousness of the offer for the first time, since the offer was made in the daytime. He went to the studio the next day and was selected to play the villian's role in a Punjabi film "Yamla Jat", on a monthly remuneration of Rs.50/-. This is how Pran, the young man of 18, started his career in films. Directed by Moti B.Gidwani, for producer D.M. Pancholi, "Yamla Jat" became a big hit. It was edited by Shaukat Hussain who introduced Pran in the leading role after a few months in "Khandaan' (directed by Shaukat Hussain himself) opposite Noor Jehan, described as the Nightingale of Punjab on account of her great singing faculties. "Khandaan" was also a big hit of its time and soon Pran hit the headlines.


  1. Nice post Vinayak Bhai,perhaps Pran may be the oldest surviving mainstream Hindi cine artist at the moment.I wish him long life with good health.
    Personally i feel that it would have been better to read if the scanned image of that article itself has been posted rather than only its textual version.
    In future pl try to post the high resolution images of the original page(s) where these articles did appeared.

  2. What a find! It's so hard to imagine the voice I know from so many 70s roles coming out of a young man - and probably without the wigs! :)

  3. Zaheer,
    these old magazines have really big pages and scanning them is quite a task. So I just post sections that interest me, also saves me headache of copyright issues. Full articles I often give out in emails on demand and need.
    he had a knack for sketching characters with quirky attributes, but that somehow made the character more real. Like in some movies you can watch him deliver a nasty dialogue while snapping fingers and holding a cigarette between ring finger and the pinky. I have seen some old-timers smoke-talk that way.

  4. RIP Pran (2 February 1920 - died 12 July 2013).


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