As they say, nothing unites India as much as cricket and Bollywood and when you get the two most popular things together – you know you have a winner at hand. Director Kabir Khan has long been known for her skilful handling of important topics such as cross-border terrorism and turning it into entertaining and informative films. His latest team ’83’ documents India’s historic victory in the 1983 Cricket World Cup. The team that was thought to be coming home after the preliminary matches, stunned the world when they lifted the country’s first World Cup.
The plot is well known to all cricket fans. Defending champion India played for the West Indies in the 1983 World Cup in the United Kingdom. No one, including the India Cricket Board members and some players, thought the team had a chance of winning the coveted trophy. But as the team continued to win the preliminary matches, hopes rose not only in the team but for Indians all over the world.
The beauty of ’83 lies in the players’ little tidbits that are beautifully highlighted. How ‘crazy’ captain Kapil Dave (Ranveer Singh) with his English, tense moments with some of his teammates, Gavaskar (Tahir Raj Pasin)’s little tips on the field, Srikanth and another player’s hilarious banter in the locker room, Balfinder Sandhu (Ammy’s insecurities) Virk) on not being an engineer or a doctor but a footballer – all of these things and more provide insight into the legendary team whose members are now living legends. The film highlights the importance of winning the trophy – to create an identity in a game that was never ours, to bring glory to the nation in a country that has ruled India for years. Thanks to real footage and photos of the action, the film can relate the actors to the parts they play on screen.
Written by Khan, Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan and Vazan Bala, ’83’ contains a detailed script and attempts to integrate not only the way cricketers played on the court but also sheds light on the political atmosphere at the time as then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi sought to exploit India’s entry into Semi-finalists to defuse potential community riots in a northern Indian town.
Khan’s movie could have gone either way. Making a movie on a topic that is still well engraved in everyone’s memory and starring in which a lot of material is available is a bit difficult. The actors could have easily stymied and the movie could have easily made a caricature of the match. But fortunately, despite working on a topic known to many in the country, “83” makes for an exciting watch.
It’s helpful to be topped by the versatile Ranveer Singh who captures Kapil Dev’s demeanor, his broken English and even Natraj’s meticulous shot. Singing always manages to slide well into the characters he plays on screen. 83 is no exception. Singh plays Kapil Dev, the captain of the Indian cricket team a bit shy but assertive.
While the movie focuses more on Singh’s character, there are other actors who have also distinguished themselves for their performances. Tamil actor Jiva plays Chris Srikanth quite easily. It is so much fun to watch the actor playing the renegade Srikanth so meticulously on screen. Another actor who stands out for his performance is actor Amy Wark who plays cricketer Balvinder Sandhu.
Pankaj Tripathi as team manager PR Man Singh and Deepika Padukone as Romi Dev are also good actors and make a lasting impression. It’s great to see Deepika and Ranveer playing an ordinary couple, with no property, wars and drama (if you know what I mean).
Some scenes are dead. Nina Gupta, who plays Kapil Dev’s mother, watches her son onscreen take Sir Viv Richard’s share. Gupta and Rcihcards were a married couple in the ’80s and they share a daughter, Masaba Gupta. Then Mohinder Amarnath played his father Lala Amarnath on screen with Saqib Saleem taking the role. Fragment like Amarnath the elder looks at the TV screen cheering for his younger self.
Also Read: India Cricket’s Greatest Victory: This Is Why I Want To Watch ’83’
At 2 hours and 45 minutes, the movie can be a bit stretchy. It also tends to focus mostly on Kapil Dev (the cricketer is said to be one of the film’s co-producers) and it would have been great to learn more about the other cricketers in more detail.
These shortcomings can easily be overlooked when “83” taps into the sentiments of a country always thirsty for such exciting rewards. It also gives a piece of history to a generation who grew up in Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Dhoni and Kohli recently.
“83” comes at a time when the Omicron variant is once again spreading gloom in the country. There is no better way to forget the problems of the pandemic than to witness a moment in Indian cricket history and celebrate the legends. The win gave birth to India’s craze for cricket and ’83’ will make you celebrate our champions once again.
“83” was released in theaters December 24.