Dev Anand wanted Imran to star in Awwal Number

Legendry actor Dev Anand wanted Pakistan cricket captain-turned-politician Imran Khan to act in Awwal Number, a film he directed and released in 1990.

Anand (88) passed away in London yesterday. In his autobiography, Romancing with Life (published by the Penguin Group in 2007), Anand revealed that he wanted the Pakistani cricket star to play the role of a star in decline. Aamir Khan played the up-and-coming cricketer. Imran however didn't accept the offer from Anand, who then approached actor Aditya Pancholi.

After Pakistan cricketer Imran Khan turned down the offer, Dev Anand
cast Aditya Pancholi in the film

Anand wrote that Imran was speechless when he was first told about the film. "You have bowled me over, Mr Dev Anand. But I don't think I am a good actor," said Imran.

Anand made the call from Bangalore and told Imran that he would be on the next available flight to London in order to convince him further.

In London, Imran invited Anand to his flat in Soho. "Imran was hospitable and obliging, a gracious host, warm and friendly, the sign of a great sportsman," wrote Anand. But Imran "kept harping" on his political ambition. Anand left the script of the film with him and Imran returned it the very next evening with a note that said he wouldn't be able to take up his offer.

Pancholi, according to Anand, "did a very good job of it."

"Dev sahab approached me for Awwal Number and I was a little surprised because I was new to the industry. He called me to his office in Navketan and didn't offer me the film, just told me that I am doing the movie. As we all know, no one can refuse Dev sahab. He told me that Imran Khan was supposed to do the role, but since he couldn't I have been considered. It was a huge thing for me. Later, I went on to do three films with him," Pancholi told MiD DAY yesterday.

He added: "Such a charming and polished man � he always brought a smile to everyone's lips. I still don't believe he has gone away and surprisingly I am not feeling sad either. He lived his life to the fullest and went away gracefully, just as he spent his entire life."

Anand also included radio commentator Suresh Saraiya in the film, which was shot at the Cricket Club of India on several occasions.

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