83 Movie Review: A rousing celebration of India's improbable World Cup victory and Kapil Dev's never-say-die attitude

Kabir Khan does a fantastic job of bringing forth the events that people have mostly seen in black and white to colour, and that too in 4K.

83 movie poster. (Image: Twitter/Ranveer Singh)
By Nilavro Ghosh | Dec 24, 2021 | 6 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

For a number of cricket fans in India today, the triumph of the 1983 cricket World Cup seems like the stuff of legends. A team that had never recorded a win in the competition’s history going on to win the whole thing does sound like proper movie material. One of the few doubts people had before the film was released was whether director Kabir Khan could deliver an accurate portrayal of the events while keeping the film’s dramatic element intact. Thankfully, he did a stunning job with the story, creating a piece of art that is worthy of being a representation of the great feat Kapil Dev and his men pulled off almost 40 years ago.

It was a docu-drama in the truest sense of the term. The director does a fantastic job of bringing forth the events that people have mostly seen in black and white to colour, and that too in 4K. There were certain scenes that were fictionalized or could maybe considered overdramatic, but that is expected. It is technically a movie after all.

RANVEER SINGH EMBODIES KAPIL DEV

Ranveer Singh shines in the role of the legendary Indian skipper. The actor is one of the best in the country at the moment and it is evident the moment one lays their eyes on him. Ranveer completely made the role of Kapil his own. It’s not just his grin, body language, prosthetics, and hairdo; he also embodies Kapil’s never-say-die spirit and refuses to become a caricature. The never-say-die spirit is something that is encapsulated in the entire film in a number of parts.

The film had a healthy amount of light-hearted moments, as well as the players, often joked amongst themselves, making for a good laugh. There was a cameo by the real Kapil Dev as well and that is certainly something that will get the audience excited. There was also a scene where a very young Sachin Tendulkar was called by his family before the final match between the West Indies and India started.

PLOT

The plot is, of course, team India’s summer in England during the 1983 Cricket World Cup. The team had never in their history won a World Cup match before that year and they were the last team anyone expected to win. The film sometimes goes out of its way to remind the audience of that fact. The most striking example of this was when journalist David Frith wrote in an article that he would eat his words if India won the World Cup that year.

Many had their reservations over whether Kapil would be the sole lead of the film while the others had to be there only in supporting roles. Part of that did turn out to be true. Kapil Dev was undoubtedly the one who had most of the spotlight and indeed, as the skipper of the team, that is quite understandable. What Kabir Khan does well is bring the other players to the forefront with some having their own stories. The likes of Sunil Gavaskar (played by Tahir Bhasin), Sandeep Patil (played by Chirag Patil), Yashpal Sharma (played by Jatin Sarna), and Mohinder Amarnath (played by Saqib Salim) had their individual stories etched into the main plot of the film.

UNFLINCHING TEAM SPIRIT

Another thing that Kabir Khan got on point with the film was the depiction of the team spirit. It is important to remember that the 1983 Indian team did not go to England with many expectations, at least from the fans back home. Kapil Dev might have said that they were there to win at the time, but the truth is, nobody expected them to. It was their spirit of brotherhood that nudged them to work harder and play better throughout the course of the competition. Whether it be through celebratory moments, being an emotional support system, or tough love, the team spirit was something that was extremely well portrayed and it never felt forced. It was completely organic.

Also Read – 83 Movie Trailer: A mix of pride, nationalism and telling something new

It would be an understatement to say that the film was an emotional rollercoaster. If one remembers how the tournament panned out, India had started quite well, winning their first two matches against the mighty West Indies and Zimbabwe respectively. However, things took a turn for the worse as Kapil Dev’s men lost their next couple of games. The Indian hopes were hanging by a thread in match five for the team, which was a do or die, or as Kapil likes to call it, ‘do and die’, situation.

ONE OF THE GREATEST KNOCKS OF ALL TIME

There was a point in the match when India had lost four wickets for just nine runs. It was at this point that a movie watcher might think, “Hang on then. How did they win this match?” The answer was Kapil Dev. From joy to sorrow and back again to joy, that match against Zimbabwe was possibly the best portrayed one of all. It was in that match that Kapil set the world record for the highest partnership for the ninth wicket, alongside Syed Kirmani. The duo had scored 126 runs and the world record had stood for 27 years. That game saw one of the greatest individual knocks in the history of cricket as Kapil scored a mammoth 175 runs.

THE BIG DAY

The climax of the film, of course, was the final against the West Indies at the iconic Lords. Kabir Khan did a marvellous job of portraying all the build-up and the hype leading up to the match. At the time, it was undoubtedly India’s biggest day in sport and people across the country were glued to their televisions or radios. The director also did a good job of portraying how the sporting event brought the whole country together as people set aside any and all kinds of differences.

Kapil’s never-say-die attitude was at its shining best when the team was in the dressing room after the first innings of the final. India had only made 183 runs. While the rest of the team seemed down and defeated, Kapil stood and brought the positivity back to the team. He might have had to do a little comedy for that to happen but when the team smiled together before going out to defend their score, it was possibly the most heartwarming moment of the entire film.

The scenes of victory could not have been more perfect. The final shot of the movie might go down in history as one of the iconic moments in Indian cinema as the victorious Indian team stood atop the Lords balcony with the prestigious trophy in hand. What makes the scene iconic are the thousands of fans that stood on the turf, looking up to the ones who had just created history.

A MUST WATCH FOR CRICKET LOVERS

It can be said that 83 is certainly a movie that has lived up to its expectations. The film perfectly captures the emotions of a team that was written off even before they played a single match, and the happiness of millions when they did the impossible. The casting seemed to be on point with every single actor playing their role to perfection. There were no songs that interrupted the flow of the movie, the pacing of which felt pretty good as well.

Overall, the movie is ‘brilliant’ in one word and certainly a must watch for fans of cricket everywhere.

Film: 83

Cast: Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Pankaj Tripathi, Tahir Raj Bhasin, Jiiva, Saqib Saleem, Jatin Sarna, Chirag Patil, Dinker Sharma, Nishant Dahiye, Harrdy Sandhu, Sahil Khattar, Ammy Virk, Adinath Kothare, Dhairya Karwa, R Badree, Boman Irani

Ratings: 4.5/5

Directed by: Kabir Khan

Written by Nilavro Ghosh



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