‘83’ review: Ranveer Singh and his Devils hit it out of the park

A compelling watch—you don't want to miss a single frame, a single dialogue

96-Ranveer-Singh Ranveer Singh in '83' | PTI

You may not be a cricket fan. You may not have been born even when India won its first ever World Cup on June 25 1983. Yet, Kabir Khan's 83 can give you goosebumps; not only will it compel you enough to fixate your eyes on the screen for as long as the reel keeps rolling, it will make you feel as if you are right there in the stadium each time India played, especially on the day it won the final match.

I cried when the team lost and grinned when it won. There was a loud, roaring round of applause inside the theatre where I went to watch the film, when Man Singh (Pankaj Tripathi) is given the pass for his team to enter Lords to play finals against West Indies. At that very moment, you feel the blood rush through your veins, especially because at the beginning of the tour nobody had ever thought that the team could reach that far. Their return tickets to India were pre-booked on the assumption that they will not even reach close to the semis, leave alone the finals.

The very thought of winning the World Cup was considered "too ambitious," best passed off with a mocking laugh. When Man Singh was prepping to leave for England, a comment was made: "Kya karna hai jaakar? Is baar East Africa bhi nahin khel raha...haraoge kisko? (What is the point of going there? This time East Africa is also not playing...whom will you defeat?" Such was the toxicity that prevailed. Nobody believed that the Indian cricket team could win a World Cup. It was unthinkable. But one person believed. And he made his team believe in it, too. Kapil Dev, the then captain of the Indian cricket team led his 11 teammates to victory at Lord's and made history forever.

Each time he appeared before the press, he reiterated his conviction, "We have come here to win," much to the chagrin and amusement of the British press and the desis who worked in England at the time. "Let the world criticise, compare, ridicule and say that we reached the semis through sheer fluke.... we will answer them all through our game. I will not issue any statement. My cricket will talk," said Dev, the captain whose charisma, temperament, body language and of course, his signature grin, have all been brilliantly portrayed by actor Ranveer Singh in an electrifying performance. The entire cast, especially the team of 11 essay the role of the original players with exceptional accuracy and detail as if breathing life into players who created history by doing the unimaginable. 

The film is a compelling watch - you don't want to miss a single frame, a single dialogue or even a single song. Everything is crisply put, with no unnecessary masala. Every minute is accounted for. As Kabir Khan told THE WEEK in an interview, "our research was thorough. The film came out exactly the way I had imagined it and we left no stone unturned in ensuring that we recreate history exactly as it played out 37 years back." Despite having heard about India's first ever World Cup victory at the Lord's numerous times ever since we were kids, that profound feeling of a nation's victory; of an underdog's unimaginable success and the emotional high of achieving the world's greatest title - 'World Cup Winners' is something that this film has managed to bring out.

Of all his earlier films, including New York and Bajrangi Bhaijaan, this is Kabir Khan's best delivery so far and it is also Ranveer Singh's most "close to real" performance. He is Kapil Dev in the film, until you remind yourself that this is Ranveer Singh and not Kapil Dev. 

The screenplay is exceptional. Music is timely, powerful and evocative. There is a young Sachin Tendulkar and a retired Kapil Dev. There is fun, there is drama, there is humour and so much more. 83 is a film that will remain in our hearts forever. Just like India's World Cup victory that has remained etched in our memories forever. 

Film: 83

Director: Kabir Khan

Cast: Ranveer Singh, Pankaj Tripathi, Ammy Virk, Tahir Raj Bhasin, Jiiva, Saqib Saleem, Jatin Sarna, Chirag Patil, Dinker Sharma, Nishant Dahiya, Harrdy Sandhu, Sahil Khattar, Boman Irani, Adinath Kothare, Dhairya Karwa, Neena Gupta

Rating: 4.5/5

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