Updated: Dec 27, 2022
For those who have watched 83, it was a cinematic masterpiece. It was riveting right from the start - after all, who wants to miss the opportunity of seeing Kapil Dev (cast as Ranveer Singh) hitting a six! We know we wouldn’t. Although the actors weren’t the real cricket players themselves, they might as well have been. The acting was immaculate and was able to play their respective roles very well and in a realistic way. What made this movie that much better was how the film crew managed to create seamless transitions between scenes from the movie and clips of real matches. One second you’re watching Tahir Raj Bhasin (actor) raise his hand to bowl, and a swing of an arm later, you realise you’re seeing a clip of the real Sunil Gavaskar releasing the ball! Not to mention - the little sections of humour created by people acting as die-hard Indian cricket team fans! For example, one of our favourites was the scene where a group of friends were on their way to the match. However, India lost a wicket, and they started to go back home. But oh, wait! India just hit a four; time to turn around again! All in all, it was these little moments, the talent and the effort of the cast that really pulled this movie together.
Unfortunately, one of the main reasons why 83 received such mediocre reviews is because of the style of the film. It's not even a film per se, but a docudrama. The plot doggedly follows the real life events, which would work if it was a sports documentary, but not if you want to sit back and enjoy a fictional story. You don’t learn anything from the movie which you couldn't learn from Wikipedia instead - it's a retelling, but with no extra plot details. Another pet peeve of ours was that you’re not introduced to any of the characters beforehand, but rather expected to know who they are. Aside from Ranveer Singh, there's barely any screen time for the other actors and characters who instead fade into the background. Last but not least, the point of a film is acting, but in this, the majority of the script was them just playing cricket. We understand that cricket is the topic of the film, but there was no glimpse into the actors’ capability and how they could play other emotions whilst handling different scenarios.
In reality, the 1983 Cricket World Cup (held from 9th to 25th June) was seen as an opportunity for sightseeing by the Indian players! One of their own players commented, “India were nowhere in contention as we had hardly performed well so far. So we left India, all of us in the mood for a holiday...Cricket wasn’t the first thing on our minds!” Indians themselves did not even entertain the notion of winning, so when they found themselves facing the West Indies, the two time champions of the World Cup, in the finals, it was in disbelief. But a West Indies team that was scripting history with every step they took in the tournament stood in their way. So when the Indians went with the die-hard attitude their country taught them from birth, even the West Indies watched their own downfall in awe.
Perhaps the most notable moment of the championship was when India faced Zimbabwe, a match which went down in cricketing folklore. India was losing badly and hopes of making it to the semi finals were bleak. What followed is still regarded as one of the greatest ODI knocks in history, where Kapil Dev bailed India out with a miraculous 175 runs off 138 balls, breaking the world record for the highest individual ODI score at the time. The biggest travesty was that only the people in attendance at the Nevill Ground got an opportunity to witness history before their eyes as the match was not televised. This was because the BBC had only two crews available that day, and chose to televise England vs Pakistan and West Indies vs Australia instead - this came as a sore blow to Indians. An amazing moment that means so much to Indian cricket fans was lost forever to time.
All that aside, the Indian team’s path to success was hard. To say that nobody gave India a chance to be at Lords in the finals, never mind actually lifting the trophy on the famous balcony, would be a serious understatement. During this time, India was seen as an amateur cricket team and they were harshly judged. The only match which they had won prior to this World Cup was against East Africa in 1973. Despite the team being quite inexperienced, they managed to make up for it with their enthusiasm and earned their place in a world where they were ignored by playing with full confidence. As said by Madan Lal, one of the all rounders on the team, “The pressure was on the West Indies to win the World Cup for a third time, not us. We played our game and we believed in ourselves.”
So, when the trophy was lifted by Kapil Dev, every Indian watching could see the pride shining in his eyes and that this trophy was the epitome of Kapil’s one-man belief. We would rate this film 3.5/5, as although it was in a slightly annoying docudrama style, it shows how the Indian team defeated the odds and continues to inspire the cricket players of today.