Veteran Bollywood actor Pran, who played villain and character roles with elan in classics like 'Milan', 'Madhumati' and 'Zanjeer', was chosen for the country's highest cinema honour - Dada Saheb Phalke award.
The 93-year-old actor, who was in hospital recently due to ill health, retired from acting after an illustrious six-decade-long career that saw him performing in over 400 films.
The award, named after the father of Indian cinema Dada Saheb Phalke, will be conferred on Pran on May 3. This year also marks the 100 years of Indian cinema.
Pran initially wanted to become a photographer but destiny had different plans for him. A chance meeting with a film producer got him his first break in Punjabi film 'Yamla Jat' in 1940.
There was no looking back for the actor after that as he went on to star in films like 'Chaudhary' (1941), 'Khandan'(1942), 'Kaise Kahun' (1945) and 'Badnami (1946).
After Partition, Pran came to Mumbai with his wife Shukla and sons Arvind and Sunil but found it difficult to get work as an actor in the city of dreams.
He had almost given hope when writer Saadat Hasan Manto helped him get a role in Dev Anand starrer 'Ziddi' in 1948 which revived his career.
Pran will be forever remembered for bringing villains on par with the heroes, ruling the industry from 1969 to 1982.
He commanded equal money and respect for his negative characters in 'Madhumati', 'Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai', 'Ram Aur Shyam' and 'Devdas'.
The actor's baritone and good looks helped him bring charm to his villainy which was very unique to Pran.
Such was the magic of his onscreen roles that parents stopped naming their children 'Pran' at the height of his fame.
His chameleon-like ability helped Pran transform himself from one of the most hated onscreen villains to one of the most beloved character actors be it the 'Mangal chacha' in 'Upkar', Sher Khan of opposite Amitabh Bachchan in 'Zanjeer' or the discipline-loving but soft-hearted grandfather in Gulzar's 'Parichay'.
Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt called Pran a thorough gentleman and a man whom you can depend upon.
He has been a source of inspiration for many people in the industry.
Pran was born on February 12 in 1920 in old Delhi.
He was educated at places like Kapurthala, Unnao, Meerut, Dehradun and Rampur as his father Lala Kewal Krishnan Sikand was in government service.
Actor Prem Chopra, famous for his negative roles, felt that it was a late honour and Pran should have got the Dadasaheb Phalke award sooner.
Actor Rishi Kapoor who worked with Pran in films such as 'Karz', 'Naseeb' and 'Bobby' said he grew up seeing Pran as a villain but in reality he was a hero.
Pran's son Sunil Sikand said the family was happy that he was recognised for his contribution to Indian cinema.
Pran hasn't been keeping well and was hospitalized twice in November and December last year.