The very talented director Kabir Khan is back . His long-awaited cricket drama ’83 opens this Friday. Ahead of its release the discernibly anxious director of Ek Tha Tiger and Bajrangi Bhaijaan speaks to Subhash K Jha on why 83 had to be released only in theatres.
Kabir, finally 83 hits theatres this Friday. Your feelings, relief ?Joy?
It’s a collective feeling of elation that I can’t describe. Thank God all the producers, and my leading man Ranveer Singh and Kapil Dev Saab were on the same page on this: we all agreed the film had to be released only in theatres. Where else could the audience feel the collective joy of India’s triumph at the World Cup? We have gone to considerable lengths to ensure we recreate the event down to its minutest detail. Luckily we had Kapil Dev’s daughter Amiya on board as an assistant.
Kapil Dev’s daughter assisted you on ’83?
Yes.And each time we needed verification of some detail from the 1983 match, we would make her call up her father and his colleagues from the World Cup. It could be something as trivial as the colour of a player’s gloves on the field that historic day in 1983…We had to get every detail right. We have thousands of people out there with every detail of the match etched vividly in their memory. We didn’t want to be caught on the wrong foot.
I believe you had the entire original team on board as consultants?
Well, we had Balwinder Sandhu who played in the World Cup and who is now a very respected coach. He knew everything we needed to know about the match.The actors playing the cricketers trained for a year. Ranveer Singh trained for three months.
A lifetime of research and hard work have gone into ’83.Did you at any point consider putting it on the OTT?
Not for a minute. But I guess if the theatres continued to be inoperative we would had have no choice. But we were very clear that this was an experience meant only for the big screen. Only in a movie theatre would the audience feel the collective thrill of watching India’s victory on that historic day.
The reaction to the film so far had been expectedly overwhelming?
I am humbled by the response so far. Everyone who has seen it has loved the film. I have women telling me they hated cricket because of what it did to the men in their families—making them zombies in front of the television set for three days—changing their mind after seeing the film.During the climactic match I heard people sobbing.I’ve not had this experience before. Not even in Bajrangi Bhaijaan.
Are you a cricket buff?
In comparison with the average Indian cricket buff? No. But I have followed the game to the extent of understanding it.I could still make a film on the game with a certain amount of detachment. I remember when I first met Kapil Dev about my film at the Marriott in Mumbai. He hugged me and said he loved Bajrangi Bhaijaan. That to me was a sign that he trusted me to make an authentic film on the 1983 World Cup series.