Cricket Movie ‘83’: A Nostalgic Trip Back To The Moments Of Glory!

The movie aptly titled ‘83’ is really worth reliving Team India’s glorious World Cup victory at Lord’s in 1983 defeating the mighty West Indies, thus stopping the latter’s hat-trick moments after victories in 1975 and 1979; and in fact, the West Indies team is yet to win their third World Cup since then. I missed watching the movie on the big screen as moviegoing has been effectively stopped since the last two years, particularly for the elderly people like me. I grabbed the opportunity as soon as the great cricket movie was premiered on television yesterday. The movie too has suffered due to the pandemic: first it was slated for release in 2019 which, unfortunately, was postponed due to post-production reasons and after that the COVID-19 recurring bans and restrictions never allowed to make the movie reach millions of cricket fans. Finally, though it could be released in December 2021 its shows were again affected by the Omicron wave. Therefore, as it were, the movie could not recover its huge budget so far and technically was not a success at the box office.


During the time, June 9-25th 1983, we were living in the beautiful hilly town of Diphu in Assam and television sets, not even to mention telecasts, were totally absent. As avid cricket players and fans I along with my younger brother and occasionally my father always used to tune in to the radio commentaries whenever India played, since the early seventies. We used to stay awake late night and huddled around the radio set as and when the overseas Test matches demanded. I remember staying awake almost the whole night with my brother relishing one of the greatest Indian Test victories against the West Indies in 1976 as India managed to successfully chase the target of 405 runs batting last.


The ICC World Cup-1983 was another huge event not to be missed at any cost for us despite India’s laughable performances in the 1975 and 1979 and the general feeling that India had no chance at all in 1983 too. Such emotions were played in the movie beyond a measure, obviously to boost up the spirit of nationalism. However, this kind of cricket nationalism is okay as cricket is indeed a unifying force irrespective of caste, religion and languages in a diverse country like India and in light of the divisiveness of the present days. So, we were eagerly following the radio commentaries and expected India perform under Kapil Dev like the diehard optimists we were and always are.


The early Indian victory against the West Indies in the double round-robin Group-B matches really set us up and we never believed that Indian victories were flukes. That defeat for West Indies was their first ever in the World Cups. We sensed that this Team India, known as Kapil’s Devils, was indeed capable of winning and so it proved. Despite the huge losses against West Indies and Australia subsequently India again regrouped to annihilate Australia and made a historic entry into the Semi-finals winning against Zimbabwe with that record-breaking innings of 175 not out by Kapil Dev that put India back after being reduced to 17/5. And then the Semi-final victory against England in their own land to enter the Final. Therefore, the fluke-theory was never there for us, and I’d say again that this theory has been a bit overemphasized in the movie.


The Real Moment!

The hilly town naturally went to sleep early and the matches played in England and Wales were on till late hours (that time one-day matches were of 60 overs each) we continued to huddle around the radio set, playing it at a low volume to not risk waking up our parents. On the monumental day of the 25th June 1983, we were indeed disappointed when Team India was bundled out for 183, but still believed the team could come back as wont to our optimism. As the West Indies chased the target during the night, we kept on with the radio commentary in our usual way and celebrated the fall of every wicket between us brothers. When the final moment of victory came, we exchanged wild-spirited high fives giving out suppressed battle cries. And then, we went to bed quietly. There were no celebrations at that period the way we witness nowadays.


The Reel Moment!

The task of playing the living legend Kapil Dev who is still the first cricketer of the world having more than 400 wickets while scoring more than 5000 runs in Test cricket and the Wisden Cricketer of the Century (2002) was not at all an easy one for Ranveer Singh. A terrific actor who is known for his roles of Peshwa Bajirao (2015) and Alauddin Khilji (2018) among many others has done a lot of labor to follow Kapil Dev’s batting/bowling style, his mannerisms and even the way he talks, and finally has delivered a memorable performance which is lapped up by the legend himself. All other members of Team India-83 have also done very well, picking up the details about the real cricketers.


The Reel Team!

This speaks volumes for the kind of research and training done by the director Kabir Khan, known for his critically-acclaimed blockbuster movie ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ (2015), in making of ‘83’, choosing the characters with some physical resemblance and then building on those. Particularly Jiva who played K Srikanth capturing all the nuances and the humor stands out as a highlight. Not only for Team India, but also the choices for the international cricketers, namely of West Indies, with suitable actors. He also recreated the Lord’s environs with immaculate authenticity and mastery looking for details all the time. No doubt, the budget of such a movie would really shoot up.


The Real Team!

‘83’ is indeed an achievement for Kabir Khan in all possible respects. He can be pardoned for his filmy fictional dramas/melodramas, background songs and the ‘nationalism’ spirit we already mentioned, because all such elements are needed to make an authentic bio-pic click as a film too, particularly among the modern generation of today. The movie has also been lauded by all the real cricketers involved including another living legend Sunil Gavaskar and the celebrities from almost all fields of activity. The movie opens with a condolence note to Yashpal Sharma, one of the star performers of the team, who expired last year and is the first one to go from the Team-1983. We miss him too and love the inherent niceties of his character played so ably by Jatin Sarna. And more importantly, it’s not a hero-centric film like the Bollywood customs with every character coming out on its own and thus keeping the team spirit that is so typical of Kapil Dev.  In all, a hearty thumbs up for the entire team of ‘83’. 


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