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Veteran Bollywood acting legend receives life achievement award

One of India's most accomplished and successful actors was recently honored for his career in the film industry, bringing entertainment to millions of people for more than half a century.

Pran Krishan Sikand, better known to fans of his and the movie business in general as "Pran," is the 2012 recipient of the Dadasaheb Phalke Award. What the lifetime achievement award is to the Oscars, the Saheb Phake is to India and Bollywood.

Anupam Kher, a contemporary of Pran's and Bollywood legend – featured in U.S. films including "Silver Linings Playbook and "Bend It Like Beckham," congratulated the 93-year-old movie icon via Twitter.

"Delighted that Pran Saab is finally given the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke Award," said Kher, according to the Times of India. "Sir, in my mind I congratulated you 20 years back."

Also offering salutations through the social media provider was director Madhur Bhandarkar.

"Congratulations Pran saab for the Dadasaheb Phalke award – this is much deserved," said Bhandarkar, the newspaper reports. "This award is mainly for the varied kind of roles he played right from menacing to extremely positive characters, which he brought alive on the silver screen."

Those who transfer money to India have likely provided their family members with the ability to see Pran in action at some point over the years. Known for portraying the role of the villain or antagonist, the 93-year-old has been in more than 400 movies, most of which have been shown only in India. He's had a lot of time to pursue these title rolls, entering the movie business in his early 30s.

Routine portrayal of 'bad guy' role came later
Pran wasn't cast in the antagonist's role throughout his career, however. For seven straight years, he mainly served as the hero. But by the time the 1950s rolled around, Bollywood experts say that he truly found his niche, portraying villainous characters with a great deal of authenticity.

The Times of India points out that Pran is best known for five movies in particular, those being "Zaneer," "Don," "Madhumati," "Ziddi," as well as "Ram Aur Shyam."

As talented and well-suited for the film industry Pran may have been, it wasn't the line of work he set out to do. In a recent feature published by The Hindu, Pran didn't want to work in front of the camera, but rather behind the lens as a professional photographer. But by happenstance, at one point in his twenties he was window shopping outside a paan shop when a film writer, Wali Mohammad Wali, approached him. Feeling that he had a knack for acting, Wali had him perform in a movie he was working on the time called "Yamala Jat."

As with many actors, Pran didn't make it to the big time immediately after his first role. His career went through a variety of starts and stops but once he played the lead role in the film "Ziddi" in 1948 he shortly thereafter became a household name and was able to find work on a regular basis.

The Dadasaheb Phalke Award is a highly revered distinction that a Bollywood celebrity is given every year by the Government of India. Since 1969, a prominent personality has been bestowed with this honorific as a symbol of the country's appreciation for their life of work bringing entertainment to the Indian public. Last year, actor Soumitra Chatteree was given the award and director K. Balachander received it in 2010. In the 43 years that it's been awarded, it's usually gone to either an actor or director, but there have been singers and lyricists who've been formally recognized by Indian officials.

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