In the late 1960s, with the character of Malang Chacha in Manoj Kumar's Upkaar in 1967, he turned to positive character roles, wherein the popular Kalyanji Anandji song, Kasme vaade pyaar wafaa was picturised on him. Ironically in this movie Kamini Kaushal also moved to character roles. Manoj Kumar continued to cast him in his films as the lead hero like Shaheed, Purab Aur Pachhim, Be-Imaan, Sanyasi, Dus Numbri and Patthar Ke Sanam. Many roles with him playing the supporting role to the hero were released and this way he reinvented himself as a character actor from being earlier the main villain. Pran from 1967 till 1997 became a well-known character actor in Hindi films and the most famous are the roles in Humjoli, Parichay, Aankhon Aankhon Mein, Jheel Ke Us Paar, Zinda Dil, Zehreela Insaan, Hatyara, Chor Ho To Aisa, Dhan Daulat, Jaanwar(1983), Raaj Tilak, Insaaf Kaun Karega, Bewafai, Imaandaar, Sanam Bewafa, 1942: A Love Story, Tere Mere Sapne(1997), Lav Kush. His films with Shashi Kapoor as the lead actor, too were big hits, notable being Biradari, Chori Mera Kaam, Phaansi, Shankar Dada, Chakkar Pe Chakkar, Rahu Ketu, Apna Khoon and Maan Gaye Ustaad.
In the seventies, Pran was also offered the role of leading man, on whose shoulders the film ran like Dharma(1973), Ek Kunwari Ek Kunwara, Jangal Mein Mangal, Rahu Ketu. Since the fifties till late eighties, Pran was often casted with Ashok Kumar, to play either the role of two friends,around whom the story revolved, in films like Victoria No. 203, Chori Mera Kaam, Chor Ke Ghar Chor, Apna Khoon, Aap Ke Deewane and Raja Aur Rana or as two different characters in films like Pooja Ke Phool, Purab Aur Pachhim, Adhikar, Naya Zamana and Aansoo Ban Gaye Phool.The two veteran actors, Ashok Kumar and Pran were very close friends in both professional and real life too and have acted in 17 films together.
Pran recommended the then newcomer Amitabh Bachchan to Prakash Mehra for the character of Vijay in Zanjeer, which was earlier offered to Dev Anand and Dharmendra but was rejected by them due to some reason. Pran acted with Amitabh in 15 films, the most notable being Zanjeer, Don, Amar Akbar Anthony, Majboor, Dostana, Naseeb, Kaalia and Sharaabi. He was at the peak of his career in the 1970s,when he acted in action thriller, Don, and in those days Pran was paid much more money than Amitabh Bachchan.The actors to be paid higher than Pran was Rajesh Khanna in the 70's and 80's and in the 50's and 60's it was the trio of Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand and Raj Kapoor along with Rajendra Kumar.Pran remains the only male actor in Hindi Cinema to have tasted many box office success throughout his active career for six decades without any dip or low phase in his long career.
Pran had started accepting more of versatile roles since the late sixties but occasionally continued to accept the role of a bad man in the 70's, 80's and 90's too in films like Kab? Kyoon? Aur Kahan?, Gaddar, Andhaa Kanoon(1983), Duniya (1984), Hoshiyar, Dharm Adhikari and Azaad Desh Ke Ghulam. Director Prakash Mehra always casted Pran in most of his directorial ventures in his career like in Ek Kunwari Ek Kunwara, Zanjeer, Aan Baan, Khalifa,[disambiguation needed] Jwalamukhi, Sharaabi, Jaadugar. Pran was a hot favourite with Manmohan Desai too having directed Pran regularly in his directorial ventures like Chhalia, Bluff Master, Dharam Veer, Naseeb, Amar Akbar Anthony.Subhash Ghai casted him in Vishwanath,[disambiguation needed] Karz and Krodhi.
In the late nineties, Pran started rejecting film offers citing his old age related problems.But in the nineties when Amitabh was going through the bad patch in his career,he requested Pran to do roles in his home productions Mrityudaata and Tere Mere Sapne and Pran made an exception by acting in them. Pran's legs had begun to shiver in 1997 so his character in Mrityudaata was modified accordingly to justify his shivering legs and in Tere Mere Sapne, his shots were taken with him being seated. Post 2000, he made few guest appearances.
The legendary "Villain of the Millennium" has had a marathon six decades long career in Hindi Cinema and is one of the most celebrated actors of the industry. So effective was his acting that it said that people stopped naming their children 'Pran' because of his villain roles, while the industry had started calling him 'Pran Sahab'. His favourite line "Barkhurdaar" became immensely popular.
His biography, ...and Pran was so named because, in most of the movies that he acted in, his was the last name in the cast portion of the credits, with the words "...and Pran" and sometime "..above all Pran".