Bollywood is elated after hearing the news that veteran actor Pran has been selected for the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke award.

Describing Pran as soft-spoken and large-hearted, seasoned actor Gulshan Grover said: “The honour has come late but I would like to thank the government for rising above the hero-villain debate to honour a great actor.”

Director Subhash Ghai, who worked with him in Vishwanath and Karz, agreed that the honour had come too late in the day. “The government should ensure that the artist should get the award at a time in life when he could enjoy it. And Pran sahib has a really long innings.”

Talking about his experience with Pran, Ghai said, “He was an inspiring actor. Vishwanath was my second film and he would take time out to tell me the technical details of filmmaking. Unlike his screen image, he was a gentleman who was always eager to experiment with characters.”

Putting his contribution in perspective, Tapan K. Ghosh, author of “Bollywood Baddies,” said Pran provided the counterpoint in the so-called idealist 1950s and 60s.

“Look at the dignity he provides to Ugra Narayan, the zamindar in Madhumati or the smile of Raka in Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai at the idea of surrender. It is a mix of smirk and cynicism. Dilip Kumar Raj Kapoor and later Amitabh Bachchan owe a substantial portion of their charisma to him.”

PTI reports:

Prem Chopra, who also achieved fame as a Bollywood villain, said: “This is great news and he is the most deserving case. He has been a source of inspiration to many people and stayed in the profession for such a long time. He credited a big name for himself and to the entire film fraternity.”

Actor Rishi Kapoor, who worked with Pran in films like Naukar Biwi Ka, Karz, Naseeb and Bobby, said he was happy to see the veteran finally being honoured.

Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt said there was a time when Pran became the “metaphor for evil,” thanks to his fame as villain.