13.7.13

And life dies...Pran




Pran means life. The actor is gone. Age 93. What we would call a full life.

I am hearing words like legend, complete actor, good human being in the few obituaries telecast. It was recently that he received the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for his contribution to cinema.

His most talked-about role remains the one in 'Zanjeer'. I found the character of the Pathan a caricature. However, it was it a departure from his villainous roles.

And a full-blooded villain he was. Just the other day they telecast an old film in which his character is a village bumpkin with a limp, desirous of marrying the beauteous heroine. I just could not accept him as the character. Therefore, I do not quite go along with the 'complete actor' theory.

He was way too suave, the bad guy version of Dev Anand, if I may say so. Best suited to the urban and urbane milieu, or the regal one. He was meant for large mansions, leather whips, armours, gladiator-like stance.

He killed softly.

There were times I wondered why the rich spoilt woman he liked chose the pink-lipped, rosy-cheeked heroes over his swarthiness.

It is said that no one named their children Pran because they did not want their offspring to have his traits. Was he fearsome?

His voice was grating to listen to, and whether by design or a natural ability, he managed to use it to devastating effect. 'Chewing words' was not a phrase; he seemed to chew and taunt with every line. A tad bit dramatic, as those films were. But loud he wasn't.

With only a crooked smile and a glint in the eye he could convey his intentions. And top it with a most stylish flick of ash from his cigarette.

If we can remember those ashes, would we forget him?

I am sharing a song not from his villain days, but his first 'positive' role in 'Upkaar'. For, this image represents finality...



The song from Upkar has been composed by Kalyanji-Anandji, sung by Manna Dey, written by Indeevar.

A rough translation of the lyrics follows:

“Kasme waade pyaar wafa sab baatein hain baaton kaa kya
Koi kisee kaa nahee yeh jhuthe naatein hain naaton kaa kya

Hoga masiha saamane tere, phir bhi na tu bach paayega
Tera apna khoon hee aakhir tujhako aag lagayega
Aasmaan me udane waale mitti me mil jaayega

Sukh me tere saath chalenge, dukh me sab mukh modenge
Duniya waale tere bankar teraa hee dil todenge
Dete hain bhagwan ko dhokha, insaan ko kya chhodenge

Kasme waade pyaar wafa sab baatein hain baton kaa kya"


promises, vows, love, trust are all words in the wind
no one belongs to anyone, bonding means nothing

a prophet might well be before you, but saved you shall not be
for your very own blood will burn you, in the pyre's flame
your flight in the sky will end only in meshing with the soil.

In your joy who walk with you will in your sorrow turn away
they who claim to belong to you will your heart break
they who deceive god, why would they spare humans?

9 comments:

  1. Farzana,

    >>promises, vows, love, trust are all words in the wind
    no one belongs to anyone, bonding means nothing

    a prophet might well be before you, but saved you shall not be
    for your very own blood will burn you, in the pyre's flame
    your flight in the sky will end only in meshing with the soil.<<

    Wow. The first two lines seem somewhat sharp-ish; while the last three have a more . . . well, “natural” resonance? Bitter/Sweet?

    M.

    ReplyDelete
  2. FV,

    Popular cinema thrives on caricatures. Not just Pathans but also Tamils, Bengalis, Punjabis, Marathis, Biharis, Pakistanis all have a bollywood prototype which has little in common with the flesh-n-blood people of these ethnicities / cultures. It is as true of hollywood as of bollywood. That does not take away from the calibre or popularity of actors portraying them.

    We may say that such characters are not sufficiently challenging to portray or satisfying to watch. But then, popular cinema is a pre-sealed pact between the makers and the viewers. What is asked for is what is served.

    RIP Pran.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Mark:

    I am not sure whether the bitter-sweet was intentional. Perhaps, I translated it not too well? I have added the last stanza as well.

    Let me give you the literal words of those first two lines...

    Promises, vows, love, trust are all talk, what does talk amount to
    Nobody belongs to anyone all false relationships are these...

    Did I lose out on the essence by not translating literally? I agree that the second bit is more natural, even in Hindi...I choke each time I hum it.

    The stanza I added would seem pedestrian, but I see the whole song as a profound paean to futility.

    ReplyDelete
  4. F&F:

    Absolutely true. Bollywood has stock images of ethnicities. Hollywood too has its caricatures. I mentioned the Pathan character of Pran because it has been rated as among his best. I do not agree, just as I found Mehmood's Tam-Brahm in Padosan a bit off. The latter being a comedy afforded it some licence.

    This has little to do with the calibre of the actors. I am aware that if Sher Khan were was enacted by, say, a Madan Puri it would have been more two-dimensional.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Farzana,

    >>I am not sure whether the bitter-sweet was intentional. Perhaps, I translated it not too well? I have added the last stanza as well.<<

    Well, there does seem a “what came first?” question here. Was the music composed to fit the lyrics or vice-versa? Certainly, we might suppose the words came first; but it remains a supposition. Does the singer himself (not necessarily Pran) convey the lyricist's breadth and depth of feeling (and/or meaning) contained in his/her chosen words and the arrangement thereof? Does the actor, Pran, convey the same in movement, facial expression, gesture? Then there's the setting and the framework of the camera man/woman as directed by the director, i.e. certainly the agrarian setting would seem to have some relevance to the soil and meshing with therof – the expressions portrayed on the farmers' faces, the glances exchanged by the farmer's wives, villagers, field workers, etc. . . .

    Was it important to the story-line or indeed the moment captured by the video-clip for Pran's character to be not entirely whole? Would he have been made whole had the beauteous heroine received his suit favorably? Can we read into Pran's character's physical debility some broader neediness on the part of men generally that can only be made right by a woman? In other words, is there a sub-text to this scene depicting of a certain kind of wooing a man does with a woman, i.e. that only she can fix whatever it is that ails? Does that not imply man has a “right” to the medicine only a woman can provide? Does that explain the somewhat (to me) 'sheepish' looks exchanged between the villagers; or are those sidelong glances more culturally informed and thereby also needing translation?

    >>In your joy who walk with you will in your sorrow turn away
    they who claim to belong to you will your heart break
    they who deceive god, why would they spare humans?<<

    Certainly the added stanza seems to further underscore the first two lines of your translation. As to whether you translated it not too well, I can only say your poetic license appears valid to me.  :)

    M.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Mark:

    All your queries are indeed worth introspecting about in a general sense of discussing what lyrics convey. Are they made to 'fit in', a design not uncommon in mainstream films. There is also the question about the singer and the song. I personally think Manna De is wonderful, and given that he was a trained classical singer this mellow singing is a different league.

    About the character, he was not part of the main plot. He was 'Malang chacha'. Malang, as you know, is a dervish, a seeker. I think his role here was to be salve as well as a link.

    Perhaps you'd like to read this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upkar

    PS: He had no designs on the heroine! But, one can always add a subtext somewhere :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Farzana:

    >>All your queries are indeed worth introspecting about in a general sense of discussing what lyrics convey.<<

    Thank you.

    >>Are they made to 'fit in', a design not uncommon in mainstream films. There is also the question about the singer and the song. I personally think Manna De is wonderful, and given that he was a trained classical singer this mellow singing is a different league.<<

    Well, yes, certainly some of us may find it necessary to compromise our art – get our “hands dirty,” so to speak. However, that said – and now that I am knowing somewhat more of the plot, lol – there does seem room to suggest a parallel between Bharat's sacrifice for and betrayal by thievish brother Puran and the Indo-Pak conflict – a conflict so classical as to be a cliché. In this respect, perhaps Manna De's singing is not out-of-place?

    >>About the character, he was not part of the main plot. He was 'Malang chacha'. Malang, as you know, is a dervish, a seeker. I think his role here was to be salve as well as a link.<<

    I did not know 'Malang” is a dervish/seeker. Thanks again. Going by the expressions on the villagers faces, perhaps his salve was a bit strong? Or were Malang Chacha's crutches symbolic of – a “link” to – the injury the brothers' conflict had done to the community at large?

    Thanks also for the Wikipedia synopsis.

    >>PS: He had no designs on the heroine! But, one can always add a subtext somewhere :)<<

    One can indeed.  :)

    Mark

    ReplyDelete
  8. RIP Pran Saheb. The article misses some of the prominent villains. K N Singh, Kanhaiya Lal, Jankinath, C S Dubey, Rahman, Jayant, Ajit, Prem Chopra, Prem Nath, Madan Puri, Ranjit, Danny and Shakti Kapoor can't be forgotten.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Can say Pran Sahab is really great actor and awesome entertainer, RIP Pran Sahab we really miss u...

    ReplyDelete

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.