This actor from royal family played same role in 61 films, was Bollywood's biggest villain, not Pran, Amrish Puri, Ajit

This actor was famous for playing Narad muni in 61 films but found stardom as a villain

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This actor from royal family played same role in 61 films, was Bollywood's biggest villain, not Pran, Amrish Puri, Ajit
A young Jeevan with his wife


Villainy in Indian films is as old as cinema. The first talkie of Indian cinema – Alam Ara – had Prithviraj Kapoor play the bad guy. But this was 1931, still a decade before actors became stars for playing villains. The first to achieve it was an actor who initially starred in devotional films. But eventually found his true calling as a bad guy on screen.

The actor who went from rishi to villain

Jeevan was born Omkar Nath Dhar in 1915. The actor came from an aristocratic family of Kashmir. His grandfather was a nobleman who served as a governor under the Dogra kings’ rule in Kashmir. Intent on becoming an actor, something his aristocratic family did not agree with, Jeevan ran away from home at age 18. He began work as a technician before landing a role in the 1935 film Fashionable India. In the early part of his career, Jeevan was famous playing Narad muni in devotional films. His son Kiran Kumar once told Dainik Bhaskar that Jeevan played the muni in as many as 61 films. But by the 50s, Jeevan had begun to play negative roles in Hindi films.


How Jeevan became Bollywood’s first great villain

Having tasted success as a villain in the 1948 hit Mela, Jeevan did negative roles in hits like Nagin, Naya Daur, Do Phool, Waqt, and Kohinoor all through the 50s and 60s. Before the emergence of Pran as the bad guy in the 60s, Jeevan ruled the roost. He was so popular at one point that he began to appear on films’ posters as well, unheard of for a villain in those days.

Jeevan’s later career and death

By the 70s, Jeevan moved to supporting roles, both positive and negative, appearing in films such as Heer Ranjha, Dharmatma, Amar Akbar Anthony, Suhaag, Lawaaris among others. The actor passed away in 1987 at the age of 71, having appeared in over 300 films. His last release was in 1991, a delayed film called Iraada.

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