K.N. Singh or Krishna Niranjan Singh was a very popular actor and, in fact, the top villain of the Hindi film Industry from the late 1930s till the mid 1950s. He was best known for playing extremely sophisticated villains, suited-booted and all.
He was born on 1 September 1908 in Dehradun.K.N. Singh came to acting by way of law, giving up his first career in 1937 to pursue his newfound interest in performance. More often than not, Singh found himself portraying a “gentleman” type of villain, usually costumed in a fine suit and hat, and smoking a pipe. His style included expressive eyes and sarcastic remarks as a ruthless but articulate villain, often playing roles of evil genius; mafia dons who have a double persona to the rest of the world. He also played positive roles in C I D (starring Dev Anand-Shakila), Wo Kaun Thi and Agent Vinod starring Mahendra Sandhu. His career spanned six decades and included over 200 films.
He broke the image of the stereotypical villain in popular Indian cinema. Unlike the conventional baddie – with his tough looks, loud and nasty talk, and horrible laugh – he always maintained a poised, cultured and soft exterior.
Every time Singh entered the screen, it was clear that he was up to no good. And he did not have to rave or rant, use abusive language or wear garish clothes to achieve this menacing effect. One penetrating look, a couple of hissed-out commands and everyone on the scene would cringe. It was the moment of the villain.
K.N. Singh was a sophisticated villain who regaled the ‘50s audiences and in nearly all his 250 odd films. He was always dressed immaculately in a suit, overcoat, had a hat on and smoked a pipe. When he entered the scene, it was clear that he had a devious plan. To achieve this effect, he did not rave or rant, use abusive language or wear garish clothes. He would give one penetrating look, raise his brow and utter his favourite dialogue, “Apni bakwas band karo”, and all those present on the scene, would simply freeze.
K.N. Singh passed away in Mumbai on 31st Jan 2000 at the ripe old age of 91, having left behind a legacy of more than 200 films and several immortal performances.