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“83 is a collective feeling of elation”, Kabir Khan



Kabir Khan

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.

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