New Delhi, April 17 -- On screen, he made his name as the ultimate villain. Off screen, veteran actor Pran is a hero to many, including legendary cricketer Kapil Dev.
The 93-year-old, who was recently honoured with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, used to be a keen sports lover, and particularly enjoyed cricket and football. And the most endearing sporting tale about Pran comes from Dev, who led India to a World Cup victory in 1983.
In 1979-80, barely two seasons after Dev emerged as a rare pace weapon for India, he suffered a knee injury.
But the Board of Control for Cricket in India was some years away from emerging as the commercial behemoth it is now, and that meant there were concerns over funds required for the surgery.
That is when Pran offered to foot the entire bill of the treatment.
"Pran saab is like a father to me," Dev said.
"He offered to bear all expenses to get my knee treated. At that point, the board wasn't that rich. Although the expense was finally taken care of, his offer itself was so nice. I can never forget that."
"He told me, 'Look, if you have a problem, go and get the best treatment. I will bear the expenses.' I went to England to get the knee operated," said Dev about the actor, who had legends such as former West Indies skipper Sir Frank Worrell among his circle of friends.
"The support he gave me is bigger than anything in my life," said Dev.
"He is a wonderful person, a great human being. If I had a son, I would have named him Pran."
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.