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Not even Randeep Hooda, but Arjun Kapoor was supposed to play Kapil Dev

Arjun Kapoor had even started practising cricket, according to a source. The project was offered to Yash Raj Films, but things did not work out and everything changed after Madhu Mantena came on board as co-producer.

Mayur Lookhar

The Ranveer Singh-starrer '83 is throwing up interesting googlies even before it has gone on the floors. That has nothing to do with Ranveer Singh, of course, but just with the history of the project.

On Monday 22 April, producer Vishnu Induri denied that Randeep Hooda was the first choice to play all-rounder Kapil Dev. Yesterday, we learnt that he was right. It wasn't Hooda but Arjun Kapoor.

We never thought of Randeep Hooda playing Kapil Dev, says '83 producer

Apparently, producer Induri had first held talks with Yash Raj Films to produce and distribute the sports film. “The film, with Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan as director, had been pitched to Yash Raj first. YRF, though, wasn’t sure of having Chauhan as director. YRF proposed Arjun Kapoor for the lead role. Kapoor, I think, had all but signed for the film. He had even started practising for the role," said a source.

A big studio like YRF backing the film, it could not have got better for writer Chauhan and producer Induri. So what transpired that saw YRF and Induri part ways?

“I don’t know the exact reasons," the source said. "Honestly, YRF had loved the story. Perhaps they wanted to own the complete rights. After YRF left, Induri got Madhu Mantena on board as co-producer. That’s when things changed and Kabir Khan was brought in as director. Out went Chauhan and out went Arjun Kapoor as Kabir Khan wanted Ranveer Singh.”

Speaking to Cinestaan.com, Induri acknowledged that Kabir Khan pitched the film to Ranveer Singh. Induri also stated that they had 2-3 faces in mind, but Hooda was never one of them. Asked whether '83 was earlier offered to YRF and Kapoor was chosen to play Kapil Dev, the producer responded, "I wouldn't want to comment on this speculation because it is becoming a never-ending process. One thing I can say clearly is I never met either Arjun or YRF in connection with this film.”

YRF did not respond to queries, but a source at the studio dismissed these tales as speculation. Efforts to reach out to Arjun Kapoor were futile. Chauhan also refused to comment.

Induri has said Chauhan would be credited for the story for the project first initiated in 2013-14. Distributed by Reliance Entertainment, '83 will be released on 10 April 2020.