Director: Kabir Khan
Writers: Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan, Vasan Bala, Sumit Saxena, Kabir Khan
Cast: Ranveer Singh, Jiiva, Pankaj Tripathi, Tahir Raj Bhasin, Harrdy Sandhu, Jatin Sarna, Ammy Virk, Saqib Saleem, Deepika Padukone
Releasing in theaters.
I have watched the highlights of the 1983 cricket world cup final dozens of times. Two moments in that final still give me Goosebumps. One is the Mohinder Amarnath delivery which got the last wicket of West Indies and India became the world champions. And the second and probably the most crucial when Indian captain Kapil Dev took the running catch of Sir Vivian Richards. That catch was the game changer. Kabir Khan’s 83 begins with that iconic moment and travels a few months back to show us how the journey started.
Cricket is a complex sport to understand and even more complex to film for fiction. Khan manages to get cricket played as realistic as possible. Of course, there are those high-speed (slow motion) shots of feet thumping on the ground, ball hitting the jaw of the batsman etc. but thankfully those are only few. Needless to say, the film is high on emotional quotient as cricket in India is not just a sport. Khan keeps the drama understated and nuanced which is refreshing to watch. A lot of effort has gone into recreating the era of 1983. The prosthetic work, production design and visual effects are top notch. In many ways, 83 is a technical knockout.
Khan with the prowess of Editor Nitin Baid recreates the behind-the-scenes of the moments we have only seen in photographs and very few in video archives. These moments are the ‘wow’ factor of the film. The film is filled with personal anecdotes of the members of the world champion team. But I had seen the majority of these anecdotes in the numerous interviews I have watched of the likes of K. Srikkanth, Sunil Gavaskar, and Kapil Dev. Especially, the event in which the film was announced, most of these anecdotes were shared by the legends themselves. Sure, seeing the film version of these anecdotes is fun but I wanted to see more unseen/unheard stuff.
The thing while watching 83 was that you’re already in awe of these legends that it’s difficult to view the film through a critic’s eye. The only things which felt a little underwhelming were that, although the film is thoroughly enjoyable it looked filmy on many instances. There’s so much stuff put inside a feature length film. The exchange of calls between Indian and Pakistani army officials, communal tensions between Hindu-Muslims in a remote village, a family naming their newborn as Kapil. They will extract taalis and seetis from the masses. Never mind.
Watch the 83 trailer here:
Among actors, Ranveer Singh leads the pack with a nuanced performance as Kapil Dev. He gets the mannerisms, body language and the iconic bowling action and the Natraj shot to perfection. His performance during the 175 not out which Kapil made against Zimbabwe is a stuff of absolute brilliance. This role is the biggest payoff from the film. Something, Ranveer, I’m sure, will always keep close to his heart.
A fabulous Jiiva as K. Srikkanth is in full form. Pankaj Tripathi as PR Man Singh has some delightful scenes. Other actors do what’s given to them with total sincerity. Frankly, acting was the last thing on my mind to notice. I was more interested in the world recreated for us to witness India’s gallant efforts to win the world cup. Director Khan and his team manage to take the viewers on a time-travel journey of a triumph which changed Indian cricket forever. It is a film which you should watch in theatres to witness the euphoria. People from my generation can only imagine what that feeling must have been. As I walked out of the theatre, I debated, although the film is thoroughly enjoyable, a feature film doesn’t seem to be the ideal medium to witness this incredible journey. A book might do justice. Anyone writing?