83 Movie Review: As Uplifting As Lifting The World Cup

83 is a Hindi sports film based on India's first Cricket World Cup victory. The film is directed by Kabir Khan and stars Ranveer Singh as Kapil Dev.

General Rating

In a nut-shell:

As Uplifting As Lifting The World Cup

That running catch by Kapil Dev when the tournament’s biggest star Vivian Richards lost his wicket. And the wind went out of the Windies.

Savour the euphoric moments of 1983 when Kapil Paaji (a brilliant knock by Ranveer Singh) led his team of underdogs to the hallowed grounds of Lords to face two-time champs, the West Indies at the finals of the World Cup. From Indians themselves questioning Kapil’s captaincy and the team’s potency to the organisers not giving the Indians a pass to the finals at Lords at the beginning of the tournament, it was the most underrated team of 1983. Considering India had never won even a qualifying game before, laughter and derision had greeted Kapil’s “We’re here to win” statement at a presser.

India and Indian cricket have come a very long way. 1983 belonged to those days when each player got a measly 15 pounds a day and manager Man Singh (Pankaj Tripathi) struggled to change their air tickets because the price difference was unaffordable. Or, as Romi (Deepika Padukone) weaves into her banter with Kapil in 1983, it took more than 18 years for an Indian to get a landline connection.

Hand it to writer-director Kabir Khan, and story and screenplay writer Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan, with Vasan Bala and Sumit Arora in the writing department, who have re-created the world and the magic of 1983 as if you’re at a virtual stadium witnessing history being made.   

Nostalgia makes a tear spring to the eye as each player is introduced with a well-written passport sequence. The tear gives way to waves of emotion as banter and bonding between the boys, roller-coaster highs and lows both personal and professional, hilarious moments like Shrikkant’s veg dinner outing, a player’s superstitious red hanky peeping out of his pocket, Mohinder Amarnath playing his own father, the legendary Lala Amarnath, and, of course, cricket itself make it a complete family outing. Rounded off with Kapil Dev’s revelations before the end credits.  

Kapil’s “Taste success once, tongue wants more,” acidity that sounds like STD and many more witty and winsome lines keep the sparkle from the first ball to the end of the game.    

The audience bursts into applause several times including the well-placed appearance by Kapil in the stands or an amusing glimpse at how Sachin would have watched the finals of 1983.

Since we’re all acquainted with Kabir Khan’s politics, even though this story had no scope to feature Indo-Pak amity, one sees his hand in it when he ensures that while you applaud India’s victory, you’re also forced to nod at Pakistan’s ‘graciousness’. If you know that the neighbours had no part to play in a story about our World Cup victory, you’ll know that the track has been forced in. But it’s done with such subtlety that even pointing it out would seem petty.   

But give it to Kabir who deftly takes you on an exhilarating cinematic experience and draws worthy performances from all the players. Whether Tahir Raj Bhasin (Sunil Gavaskar), Jiiva (Krishnamachari Srikkant), Saqib Saleem (Mohinder Amarnath), Harrdy Sandhu (Madan Lal), Ammy Virk (Balwinder Singh Sandhu), Jatin Sarna (Yashpal Sharma) or any of the others in the team, I won’t call them actors. Each one is so credible.

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Deepika Padukone has a fleeting role as wife Romi but her very entry is like a breath of fresh air.    

Pankaj Tripathi boosts every scene like a real manager supporting the captain while Boman Irani makes you believe it is Farokh Engineer in the commentators’ box.  

We’ve all heard that work speaks more than words and Ranveer Singh captures the man of few words with a skill that could come only from focused dedication. Apart from getting Kapil’s body language and bowling and batting actions spot on, Ranveer lets his eyes do all the talking which makes his performance even more outstanding.

If one were to liken the film to the World Cup win, all one can say is, ‘Well-played, boys. You deserve victory.’

Watch 83 Trailer:

As Uplifting As Lifting The World Cup83 Movie Review: As Uplifting As Lifting The World Cup