I remember when the 1983 World Cup legends visited The Kapil Sharma show amid heavy buzz. Over two years later, Kabir Khan recreates somewhat similar magic on screen with his film 83 that celebrates India's first-ever World Cup win in England. It transports you to that era, allowing you to be a part of that victorious moment. In all honesty, I very much felt like I was sitting in that stadium, cheering for Team India each time they hit a boundary and tearing up on the loss of every wicket. On top of it, I couldn't see any actors on the screen during the 160 minutes runtime of 83 — it all looked so real.
Ranveer Singh takes the arduous task of stepping into the shoes of Kapil Dev and aces it, especially with the Natraj pose. He gets into the skin of the then captain with so much conviction and excitement that in some scenes, you actually search for the actor Ranveer but don't complain when you see Kapil Dev hitting it out of the park. Full marks for the physical resemblance, body language and mannerisms, however, in some portions, I felt he goes a bit overboard with the heavy accent and dialogue delivery. But his hold of the Punjabi and broken English is quite how you would imagine Kapil Dev speaking back then.
Ranveer doesn't do it all alone, he pulls it off with support from his team. Each of them, so convincingly, looked the part they portrayed on screen. Ranveer's camaraderie with all his teammates, especially with Saqib Saleem playing Mohinder Jimmy Amarnath, is endearing and unmissable. Tahir Raj Bhasin as Sunil Gavaskar, Jatin Sarna as Yashpal Sharma, Tamil actor Jiiva as Srikkanth, Ammy Virk as Balwinder Sandhu and Harrdy Sandhu as Madan Lal hold on to their characters and shine in each frame. The prep that all the 11 players on screen have undergone, shows in their techniques and game on the field. Not to forget Pankaj Tripathi as PR Man Singh, the team's manager, who not only adds the humour but also lends a strong support to the team.
Although the disclaimer in the beginning of the film clearly states that some characters have been fictionalised and dramatised just for the story, I am curious to know exactly which parts were true, and which ones were taken creative liberties. Nonetheless, 83 beautifully encapsulates Team India's journey, struggle, defeats, inner conflicts, personal losses and most importantly, their passion to win — not for themselves but for the country. Kabir Khan's film is less about the story and more about its characters and how they, despite once laughing at their captain's words - 'We will win the World Cup' – end up putting their best foot forward to make that a reality.
Making a film based on such a historic milestone was quite a risky proposition for director Kabir Khan because you can't afford to go wrong with facts here. But the minute details and nuances in the story that he highlights in the film makes you believe in his research and dedication towards the project. Yes, the film is about India's win but Kabir doesn't hesitate to tell us how most Indians never believed that India could win the World Cup. The mockery and sarcasm hits you hard through some scenes. I particularly loved the references to how a game of cricket can take precedence over communal violence and bring people from all strata of society under one roof. The scene where a woman delivers her baby right when Team India is playing their final match, and how the family names him 'Kapil' as soon as the country wins, is heartwarming. Another scene in which a younger Sachin Tendulkar screams, "Main bhi India ke liye cricket khelunga (I will also play for India)" fills one with pride to know how this historic win impacted people's lives. Even while showing the personal stories of the players, Kabir has effortlessly blended it in the screenplay and it doesn't seem like a forced attempt.
The film also stars Deepika Padukone as Kapil Dev's wife Romi Dev but she has very little to do apart from sitting on the stands, smiling or crying depending on the team's game.
The music of the film deserves a special mention. For once, you don't have song and dance sequences that seem forced, as both the tracks--Lehra Do and Bigadne Do--play as background music, aptly fitting the situation, evoking emotions.
At several places, 83 gets high on nationalism, which could have been easily avoided. But that's something one kind of overlooks for the pride and joy you experience on seeing the team lift that trophy. If you needed a reason to walk into a theatre, 83 is that film which calls for a big screen experience.
Director: Kabir Khan
Cast: Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Pankaj Tripathi, Saqib Saleem, Tahir Raj Bhasin, Jatin Sarna, Ammy Virk, Harrdy Sandhu, Nishant Dahiya, Dhairya Karwa, Adinath Kothare, Dinker Sharma