American supermodel, Cindy Crawford’s photography wasn’t meant to be the only odd element in Dev Anand’s 1990 action movie Awwal Number.
The film’s composer, media analyst and former president of Reliance Entertainment Amit Khanna recalls using Sunil Gavaskar’s office to arrange a meeting between Dev Anand and Imran Khan, when the latter was performing in London. Dev Anand, in fact, used to visit London just to watch Wimbledon matchups and cricket matches.
Imran Khan declined Dev Anand’s offer to star in Awwal Number, saying he was too entrenched in his cricket career.
The connection to Cindy Crawford, of course, was limited to the blue-taped photo of her that appears in a scene where Dev Anand’s character, DIG Vikram Singh, tells her half-brother, Ranvir Singh, aka Ronny, played by Aditya Pancholi: “Like every year, this year I have also placed her favorite blue ribbon in her photo. Do you remember that she tied the ribbon in her hair? The DIG says this to Ronny when he, seeing The photo refers to her as “my mother.” Upon hearing this, the DIG corrects Ronny: “Our mother”.
Going back to the casting story, Khanna says that after being politely rejected by Imran, Dev Anand reached out to producer, director, and writer Tahir Hussain. He knew Tahir Hussain because they had worked together on movies. The reason for this was Aamir Khan.
After Imran Khan, Dev Anand was interested in Aamir, the son of Tahir Hussain, rehearsing the role of Sunny, the street boy who had become the new cricket star replacing Ronny on Team India for a series. day cricket match against Australia. Dev Anand was the director and writer for Awwal Number.
Aamir had just had great success with his first film, “Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak”, directed by his cousin (and Nasir’s son) Mansoor Khan, who is now a cheese maker in Coorg. It was not about Aamir saying “no”, he says to this day that it is the only movie he signed without reading the script.
The result: Aamir played as the match-winning cricketer for India with a six, despite being hit on the head by a fierce goalkeeper. Ronnie de Pancholi plays with his rival. Dev Anand, in addition to being the DIG of Mumbai, is also the chairman of the “selection committee”, which thwarts an attempt by terrorists to blow up the stadium in a helicopter.
Awwal Number launched the career of Ekta Sohoni, who married Mohnish Behl (now better known as his daughter, southern movie star Pranutan Behl), and featured several humble songs written by Amit Khanna, set to the music of Bappi Lahiri.
Most prominent among them was “Poocho na kaisa mazaa aa raha he”, which talks about Aamir’s impoverished background and his rise to the Indian cricket team. Khanna also organized the party sponsors, Garware, of the India-Australia movie day match.
Awwal Number, by the way, was not Bollywood’s first cricket movie. In 1959, Dev Anand had played a cricketer in “Love Marriage,” directed by Subodh Mukerji and co-starring Mala Sinha. In 1984, Mohan Kumar made “All-Rounder” starring Kumar Gaurav as a budding cricketer, but it didn’t work out at the box office.
It wasn’t until “Lagaan” (2001) that cricket and Bollywood proved to be a successful combination and coincidentally starred Aamir Khan, also its producer.
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