Meet only villain who was India's highest paid actor, richer than superstars, refused lead roles; was so hated that...

This villain was India's highest paid actor, was paid more than superstars like Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, and even rejected lead roles.

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Heroes have always been the biggest box office draws in films across the world. Sometimes, the top heroines can rival their male counterparts in terms of popularity and remuneration. But when have you ever heard of a villain being the top star in an industry? The answer is – not in the last four decades. But there was a man who commanded greater fees than even Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra during their peak.

The villain who was paid more than heroes

Pran, born in 1920, began his film career as a hero in 1940 and largely played positive roles for the next few years. But at the turn of the decade, Pran began experimenting with negative roles and soon found fame as the top villain of Bollywood. By the end of the 1960s, Pran was recognised as one of the top stars in Hindi films. From 1969-82, he worked in eight films with Amitabh Bachchan and even though the latter was Bollywood’s top hero at the time, Pran commanded a bigger salary. For the first half of the 70s, the only Indian actor who commanded a greater salary than Pran was Rajesh Khanna. After that, Pran was the number one actor in the country till Amitabh Bachchan hiked his fees in the 80s.

How Pran rejected lead roles and awards

Pran began as a hero but soon moved to negative roles. After he became a star, he was again offered leading roles in romantic films. But as per reports, he rejected them all, saying he did not like to ‘dance around trees’. Pran also won a number of awards for his performances but in 1973, he famously refused one. The actor was awarded Best Supporting Actor for Beimaan at the Filmfare Awards that year. However, the veteran actor refused to receive the award because he felt the committee was unfair in giving the Best Music Director award to Shankar Jaikishan and not to Ghulam Mohammed for his music in Pakeezah.

How much Pran was hated and feared in the 50s and 60s

During his peak of villainy in the 1950s and 60s, Pran was the top villain in India. His name alone was used in posters to highlight the film’s scale. Given his iconic negative roles, he became a synonym for evil and menace in the country. This was testified by reports that parents refused to name their kids Pran in the 1950s and 60s. Pran continued to act in supporting roles through the 80s and 90s before finally taking retirement from acting after 2000. He passed away in 2013 at the age of 93.

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