83 Movie Review
Captain Kapil Dev led a team of underdogs from India to the country's first-ever World Cup triumph in 1983. '83' by Kabir Khan captures the journey of this team that taught a nation to believe and place its hopes on its cricket players by returning home as a group of extraordinarily gifted world winners.
In the film's first few minutes, Kabir Khan introduces the audience to the characters through a smartly structured passport sequence. He also uses dialogue and casual chats to reveal that Indians did not expect India to win the World Cup. That's when you recognize this film isn't about winning on a global scale; it's about making respect.
Kabir has juxtaposed real images with reel images at every stage of the film, making one sit up and take notice of the fact that he has heavily invested in research and the recreation (the scenes look as good as the real incidents on the pitch) of defining moments in Team India's 1983 World Cup journey. You discover that the film was not solely about drama or sport but rather an attempt to combine the two. And, to a considerable extent, it was successful.
The way the team of 1983 went on to take the wind out of the West Indies, an almost invincible cricket team at the time, during the World Cup Finals that year has a lot to do with India's enthusiasm for cricket. During the tournament, Team India's expectations were so low that a broadcaster might easily choose a match between the heavyweights, West Indies and Australia, over a match between India and Zimbabwe. The latter was the match in which Indian skipper Kapil Dev made history with the Mongoose bat, and those iconic innings were not captured on film.
If you pay to see this movie, that sequence alone will make the trip worthwhile. Kapil Dev's innings not only saved the day for India but also earned the team a seat at the table and a lot of respect from everyone - the cricket control board back home, Indians living in India and abroad, the international and domestic press, and those who had already made a name for themselves in the game. The fact that no one took the captain's intention to win the World Cup seriously plays out at several moments throughout the film, reinforcing what eventually spurred the team to put its best foot forward. Kabir Khan's epic '83' is about the little joys, sufferings, brilliant wins, agonizing defeats, internal upheavals that each player endured, their individual journeys, and the road of creating a team that could trust itself to defeat the mightiest men in the gentleman's game.
When you hear Ranveer Singh nailing Kapil Dev's unmistakable style of speaking, precisely duplicating his Natraj shot on the ground, bowling movement, and body language, you know you're in the midst of a cricket-centered sports drama. But when he talks about why he thinks, believes, and feels the way he does for the sport, you hear a man tell you what makes him a notable name in the game. We've all seen the classic photograph of Kapil Dev carrying the World Cup; the film looks into why we become upset every time we see it.
On the surface, '83' is about the triumph of an underdog team. As you progress, with each actor effortlessly portraying an iconic cricketer from the 1983 team, you get the impression that this film was crafted with a skillfully written narrative, supported by nuanced and internalized performances, and each department lent its technical brilliance. While Ranveer does play the captain's innings in this film, Saqib Saleem, Tahir Raj Bhasin, Ammy Virk, Hardy Sandhu, Jatin Sarna, Pankaj Tripathi, and Boman Irani are among those who shine.
A special mention should be made of how the memorable moments from Team India's 1983 World Cup adventure were reproduced for the film. They mixed in seamlessly with the drama and emotions. The film's writing crew deserves credit for smoothly incorporating everything. Because the film is based on true events, there is minimal room for artistic license.
Throughout its run, you will realize that, at the end of the day, it was an internal journey of a group of underdogs who were fighting odds both internally and externally - a factor that we as Indians can all relate to, especially in the context of the sport 83 is based on and the time period in which the chain of events occurred.
Yes, 83 plays on the nationalism theme far more than was necessary. The film's spirit would have emphasized the argument that the rhetoric scenes were attempting to express. '83' had the potential for some terrific music, which could have provided a better tempo to the story. But, once again, Kabir Khan sets a high standard for himself with this.