Movie Review: ’83’ epic re-creation of historic event

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Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh. Photo:Provided of Rajiv Vijayakar

A lesser team might have led the film being vanquished as a cinematic game. Kabir Khan (Kabul Express, New York, Ek Tha Tiger, Bajrangi Bhaijaan) and his co-writers do not let that happen. In a glorious cinematic innings that perfectly captures everything about India’s historic triumph at the World Cup 1983, the movie details unknown facts about a 38 year-old historic match. And separating reel from real becomes irrelevant as we get involved and thus stop caring about what(ever) has been added for dramatization in the name of heightened entertainment.

83 is everything a cricket lover can ask for. Precision shots of excellent cricket shots by the players, the great bonhomie, team spirit and repartee between the team members, the genial coach (played to perfection by Pankaj Tripathi), the challenges faced by the Indian team—everything is narrated in perfect detail.

The patriotism-inducing material is immaculate: the already historic win to come makes the viewer already proud even as skipper Kapil Dev and his team are dismissed as possible winners of the World Cup by not only the Britishers but also by everyone else, and worse, by fellow Indians.

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However, this is the only point where Khan overdoes things, maybe for dramatic effect. Indira Gandhi wanting televisions in a riot-struck town where communities  unite because the crucial games are being played, the Indian forces at the border facing enemy firing even as they listen to the commentary, the Pakistani captain promising no shelling, however, on the big day, and more: Khan overdoes all this, and the film could have degenerated into pulp fiction had it not been for the overall cricket content. One seriously hopes that there is some rudiment of fact in all this. I did not mind the seemingly “filmi” touch of the small boy, but I hope that is real too!

The human interaction between the players, both humorous and emotional, is where the film scores highest, though there is no single credit for the written lines (called dialogues in Indian cinema parlance) that, I again hope, are a reprise of what really happened.

The VFX and post-production are plain fantastic, augmenting the meat in the script, and Julius Packiam’s background score fabulously complements the subject (additional background score by Pritam). Aseem Mishra’s camerawork is outstanding and the technical levels are high-class. The songs try to be rousing, but most of the lyrics are ordinary.

It is in the casting and, after that in the performances, where the film scores high again. Ranveer Singh is the perfect Kapil Dev, down to his specialized cricket shots, way of speaking (especially his typical English) and his body language. His facial appearance adds to the incredible similarity that has been painstakingly worked on and executed.

In a film in which Ranveer’s wife Deepika Padukone merely has a filler presence as Mrs. Kapil Dev, it is Wamiqa Gabbi as Mrs. Mohinder Amarnath who makes a mark in an equally sketchy role. The British officials and West Indian players are performed extremely well.  And one can’t help but be amused by an actor playing Viv Richards even as Neena Gupta, single mother to the real Richards’ daughter Masaba, plays Kapil Dev’s mother! Just one of those things!

Among the cricket team, Tahir Raj Bhasin as Sunil Gavaskar, Nishant Dahiya as Roiger Binny, Ammy Virk as Balwinder Sandhu, Saqib Saleem as Mohinder Amarnath and Jiiva as Krishnamachari Sreekanth score the highest.

And do wait for that surprise cameo by Kapil Dev!

Rating: **** of 5


Produced by: Kabir Khan, Ranveer Singh
, Deepika Padukone, Sheetal Vinod Talwar, Vishnuvardhan Induri, Sajid Nadiadwala, Reliance Entertainment & Phantom Films. Directed by: Kabir Khan. Written by: Kabir Khan, Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan, Vasan Bala, Ranveer Singh, Jiiva & Sumit Arora. Music: Pritam. Starring: Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Pankaj Tripathi, Jiiva, Tahir Raj Bhasin, Saqib Saleem, Jatin Sarna, Chirag Patil, Dinker Sharma, Nishant Dahiya, Harrdy Sandhu, Sahil Khattar, Ammy Virk, Adinath Kothare, Dhairya Karwa, R. Badree, Neena Gupta, Bomna Irani, Wamiqa Gabbi, Simon Balfour, Ray Burnet, Pete Picton, Rajiv Gupta, Brijendra Kala & others

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