Pran was one of the dominant character actors of Hindi cinema. Pran did his studies at different cities namely Unnao, Kapurthala, Dehradun, Meerut, and Rampur. Pran began his professional career by learning the art of photography in Lahore. A chance meeting with a film producer landed him in his first break in the Punjabi language film 'Yamla Jat' in the year 1940.
After partition in 1947, Pran relocated to Mumbai and furthered his film career after a minor struggle. In his career, he acted in over 400 films in different roles. He was best known as a villain. His best film in negative roles is 'Ram Aur Shyam'. People used to shiver with fear and detested him, and yet loved him as the kind, memorable 'Mangal chacha' in the film 'Upkar'. He worked in films with the mainstream actors of different decades from Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan, Dev Anand, Dharmendra to Sunny Deol, Sanjay Dutt, and Salman Khan. He was the highest paid and arguably the most sought after character actors of his era, starring in some of the most acclaimed and biggest hit films of all time.
He was a sports enthusiast and he avidly supported his own football team "Dynamos Football Club" by financing for a number of years during the 1950s. In addition to his acting career, he actively participated in a number of Social activities, including the Maratha Sikshan Sanatha, the Chief Minister's Relief Fund and Film Industry Welfare Trust amongst others. He himself organised cricket matches and charity events to raise money for the needy people.
In an illustrious career which lasted almost six decades, Pran was conferred with many awards. For his contribution India Government awarded him the third highest civilian award, Padma Bhusan in 2000 and the DadaSaheb Phalke Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2012.