what new legend could director kabir khan add to india’s unlikely but well-deserved victory in the 1983 cricket world cup? the question echoed in the minds of many of us, when he announced the film about the dramatic journey of kapil demons in the English summer.
many feared if an event that happened in the distant past could become fiction for the current generation. The most demanding even feel that a documentary could have been a better option to represent one of India’s greatest triumphs in team sports; many would not like to contaminate their cherished memories of watching the world cup on a black and white television, with a fictional account projected in 4k.
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However, Kabir, putting to good use his unique experience in making authentic documentaries and blockbusters, has delivered a moving docu-drama that does to naysayers what a bunch of bad cricketers do. paid and little known they did to the journalist david frith. : make them eat his words.
83 not only captures the emotional weight of the underdog’s success story, but also provides a well-researched document in the popular language. It appears at the beginning of the film when Kabir tells us a sweet story behind the team’s photography, mixing the real with the imagined. The behind-the-scenes segments, the locker room talk and of course the re-enactment of Kapil’s devastating tackles in the crucial India-Zimbabwe match (which was not covered by the BBC) make for a riveting experience on the big screen. . .
but ultimately it’s ranveer singh as kapil dev that makes the flourish of a fanboy feel like a lived experience. he almost becomes kapil dev for two and a half hours, and is the beating heart of this movie carnival. It’s not just about the charming toothy smile, body language, prosthetics and hairstyle, Ranveer also embodies Kapil’s spirit of never dying and does not allow himself to become a caricature. Haryana Hurricane English may not have verbs, but the man is all about action. perhaps the missing apostrophe before the title is a metaphor for the pulsating narrative and personality of ‘kapsi’; wholeheartedly, without malice.
Whether it’s kapil’s relationship with sunil gavaskar (tahir bhasin) or the elegant ways of sandeep patil (chirag patil) or, for that matter, mohinder amarnath (saqib salim) living under the shadow of his illustrious father lala amarnath, the story is interspersed with important facts, trivia, little-known curiosities. More importantly, Kabir and co-authors Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan and Vasan Bala have put them in context. The cricket action, shot by Aseem Mishra, doesn’t seem made up and the sound of reggae, every time Richards takes the guard, adds to the atmosphere.
Beneath the cheery exterior, a layer of narrative provides incisive commentary on the times and what victory meant for the country. We can’t forget that 1983 was also the year that the Nellie Massacre occurred. kabir not only traces what was happening on england’s grass courts, but also gives us insight into the difficult socio-economic terrain facing india in the 1980s, when cricket emerged as a unifying force.
and yes, even pakistan makes it into the story. no, not the players, who reached the semifinals, but the army because of the inconvenience it caused during the matches. Be it ek tha tiger or bajrangi bhaijaan, kabir loves to stir up nationalist sentiments. they can be glib at times, but they rarely venture into jingoistic territory. here he pushes Muslims in skull caps waving the tricolor in multiple frames.
ranveer aside, jiiva almost aptly captures the fearless soul of krish srikkanth, but pankaj tripathi, as team manager, seems all too eager to uncork the audience’s tear ducts. Casting Mohinder and Mali Marshall in the roles of their celebrity parents is a pleasant surprise, as is Deepika Padukone’s turn as the dashing Romi Dev. but some of the options are bewildering; Hardy Sandhu couldn’t quite get Madan Lal’s body language, and Vivian Richards (Jacques Taylor) has been reduced to just a gum-chewing guy. One also cannot become Clive Lloyd just by wearing glasses! the hairstyles of some of the west indian fast bowlers are ridiculous. The film called for a moving musical score, but Pritam falls short of the hype. English and Hindi cricket commentary grammar could have been revised.
These are small subtleties in a film that makes us laugh, cry and constantly manages to recreate moments that give us goosebumps even four decades after the historic victory. a fantastic way to end a difficult year.
83 is currently running in theaters