The story of an underdog team emerging victorious in the cricket World Cup is one for the big screen
A still from 83
Story: The Indian cricket team is invited to participate in the cricket World Cup at Lord’s Stadium in England. Fighting all odds, the team led by captain Kapil Dev (Ranveer Singh), played the finale against West Indies, the formidable champions who had been winning consecutively for the past two years. On June 25, 1983, India created history by winning its first World Cup.
Review: Unlike other biographical sports films where the first half is usually dedicated to the protagonist’s entry or re-entry into a particular sport, director Kabir Khan wastes no time in diving straight into the action. There are enough qualifying cricket matches that take place in the first half for the momentum to be established.
The audience also gets a chance to be introduced to the rest of the team members, whether it is Tahir Raj Bhasin as the mild-mannered Sunil Gavaskar, Tamil actor Jiiva as the aggressive Krishnamachari Srikkanth or Saqib Saleem playing the dependable Mohinder Amarnath.
A few minutes into the movie and you forget that it is Singh playing the role of former cricket captain Kapil Dev. Just like he did in films such as Lootera and Gully Boy, the actor is able to dig somewhere deep inside for a performance that is both nuanced and layered. Right from delivering the dialogues in Dev’s broken English to getting his body language on the field down to a tee and displaying vulnerability and strength of character, he sinks his teeth into the once-in-a-lifetime role.
But this is not Dev’s biopic and credit should be given to the writers for doing justice to every team member’s role. The banter between the boys, their camaraderie on and off the field and the individual mannerisms of the players have been well-captured. Pankaj Tripathi, playing the team manager PR Man Singh, once again proves his versatility. Deepika Padukone’s role as Dev’s wife Romi is a cameo and thankfully does not slow down the narrative.
The real highlight of the movie, however, is the cricket matches. Right from the qualifying ones to the semi-final and then the final, it is the matches that keep the audiences glued to their seats. The final match between India and West Indies elicits claps at every boundary from the Indian side and cheers each time they claim a wicket. I could barely keep my emotions in check as Singh playing Dev lifted the World Cup trophy in his hands and I was certainly not the only one among the audience to reach for the tissues when he declared to the international press, ‘I said before, we here to win’. Real-life scenes interspersed with reel make the viewing even more overwhelming.
In the end, it is an underdog story of a team that refused to bow down to any external pressures and emerged victorious in the face of all odds. One doesn’t need to be a cricket fan to feel the rush of patriotic fervour when witnessing the historic moment. A guest appearance by Dev is the cherry on top.
The only grouse, if any, is the movie’s length. At least 20 minutes of the 2 hours 43 minutes duration could have been edited out.
Verdict: Definitely one of the best films of the year, this is a movie to watch in theatres with your family and your friends and cheer for the moment when history was created. Watching Singh and his boys deliver a knockout performance on the screen will definitely make your heart swell with pride.
Deepali Singh is a Mumbai-based lifestyle and entertainment writer who loves to talk and write about movies, shows, music, art, and food.
83 is releasing in theatres on December 24. Watch the trailer here: