With his subtle, underplayed performances, Krishna Niranjan Singh gave the stereotypical villain of Hindi cinema a new dimension. He replaced histrionics with style and sophistication — the raise of an eyebrow and a piercing look were all Singh employed — and imparted to his characters a dignity never before given to screen villains.
Born in Dehradun, Uttar Pradesh, Singh intended to follow the legal profession like his father. But family friend Prithviraj Kapoor introduced him to Debaki Bose, who offered him a role in Sunhera Sansar, the Hindi remake of a Bengali film. Singh moved to Bombay in 1937 and joined Fazalboy brothers. His first big hit came in 1938 with A.R. Kardar’s Baghban. He went on to work with such leading studios as Bombay Talkies and Sohrab Modi’s Minerva Studios. Amongst his most notable films are Raj Kapoor’s Barsaat and Awara, Guru Dutt’s Jaal and Baazi, and Raj Khosla’s CID.