When it comes to a movie having the baggage of enormous expectations in the year 2021, it is tough to consider any movie other than Kabir Khan directed ’83’ starring Ranveer Singh. Ever since the movie and its versatile and talented cast was announced, the cricket-crazy audience across the country had been waiting to see how the makers brought to life the heroics of Kapil and his men.
To be honest, it felt like a lot was riding on the movie, especially after the horror show of Bollywood movies this year that only promoted woke, bland, predictable, and brain-dead agendas, giving nothing of the escapist cinema that we had been so dearly craving.
Moreover, because the last few Cricket centering movies never really hit the spot. However, 83 represents something different. It is nuanced, clever, not too self-indulgent, and knows its limitations.
When a movie based on real-life incidents is conjured up for the 70 mm screen, the makers tend to center the narrative on a prominent figure, often forgetting the other characters that bring out the best in the central figure. 83, based on the Indian cricket team’s victory of the 1983 World Cup, thankfully avoids this plight.
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Ranveer Singh playing the character of Kapil Dev is the heart of the movie but other characters have their respective moments to shine, thereby giving a cohesive story that we all have grown up listening about.
The movie dives straight into the World Cup and sets up the stakes relatively early. The boys who have been given almost no chance to return with anything, going up against the big, bossy teams of the era (the fear-inducing West Indies to be precise) – all is shown in perfect microcosm.
The team has its backs against the walls, so much so that the broadcasters preferred to telecast a match that may have brought them more eyeballs. Instead of the India-Zimbabwe match, the Australia-West Indies match is televised.
Ranveer Singh – the shapeshifter mutant
However, the match that broadcasters missed went on to become one of the most fabled games of world cricket ever. Kapil Dev smashed an unbeaten 175 to steer India to an improbable victory. And props need to be given to Ranveer for this particular segment of the movie. It is emotional and purging and is one of the most endearing parts of the movie.
Ranveer Singh, despite his off-screen gimmicks and clumsy persona, has shapeshifted entirely into the Haryanvi youngster, who becomes the glue that brings the underdogs together and helps them believe in their ability.
If the trailer was any indication of how Ranveer had absorbed Kapil’s mannerism, the film takes it a notch above. Ranveer has got the dialect to the tee, his run-up, batting style, especially the Natarajan shot, all look incredibly satisfying to the eye. It doesn’t look like he is trying to ape Kapil, albeit it looks like the all-rounder is batting on the screen himself. Wink Wink, we do have a Kapil cameo in the movie and the theatre went berserk when he showed up on the screen.
Ranveer has nailed the character’s inability to speak English, the self-deprecating humor, the unassuming discipline, and the quiet resolve to win with utmost ease – almost like a duck taking to water.
After all, Ranveer has put in the hard yards. In one of the interviews during the promotions of the movie, Ranveer remarked that he bowled for 4 hours a day for 6 months and even then, could not achieve the perfection of Kapil.
He said, “Initially, my body was too heavy because I was coming off of the shoot of Simmba. Our coach noticed that my body was too heavy and he said, Jab tu run-up mein aata hai toh tu aisa lagta hai ki pehelwan bowling karne aa raha hai.”
Extensive research went into the movie
The movie does well to amalgamate the real shots with the reel shots. Akin to MS Dhoni – the untold story, Kabir Khan has juxtaposed real images with the reel ones – suggesting that labor-inducing work has gone into the research.
The behind-the-scenes segments, the dressing room chats, and everything that is not captured by the ground camera has been delivered in generous quantities to a cricket fanatic’s demands. In pop-culture terms, Kabir Khan has done a proper fan service and it’s admirable.
Giving audience what they want to see! Who’d have thought that we’ll see it in Bollywood? It reaffirms the belief that Bollywood is still a good product when it is in capable hands. After two duds in Phantom and Tubelight, Kabir has finally learned to keep his SJW tendencies aside.
The current and former players have also given a thumbs up to the movie. Part of the team and legend of the game Sunil Gavaskar after watching the movie remarked, “Saw the movie for the first time at the Premiere last night and was blown away by the film. It’s simply brilliant and the way every actor has got the mannerisms, the walk, the look, the style of every player was unbelievably uncanny. Full marks to Kabir Khan and his team for their efforts.”
Kapil’s connection with Sunil Gavaskar (Tahir Bhasin) and other characters forms the cornerstone of the movie. Jeeva as Cheeka is the comic relief and in some particular scenes, he has stolen the show from Ranveer.
Meanwhile, currently in the middle of several controversies, Virat Kohli also tweeted, “Couldn’t have relived the most iconic moment of Indian cricket history in a better manner. A fantastically made movie which immerses you in the events and the emotion of the world cup in 1983. Splendid performances as well. @RanveerOfficial was a different level altogether. Great job everyone! @therealkapildev @kabirkhankk”
Couldn't have relived the most iconic moment of Indian cricket history in a better manner. A fantastically made movie which immerses you in the events and the emotion of the world cup in 1983. Splendid performances as well.
— Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) December 25, 2021
Overall, the movie is a feel-good, escapist movie that treads comfortably in the zone. It is not an earth-shattering sports movie like Raging Bull or I, Tonya but it ticks all the right boxes that a moviegoers wants in his movie.
If one wants to bask in the nostalgia of the yore and understand how cricket became bigger than anything in India, then 83 is the movie to watch.