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Bollywood Movie Reviews

83 Recreates Cricketing History In Vivid Strokes





Starring Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone , Pankaj Tripathi

Directed  by  Kabir Khan

Rating: ****

Good Lords!  By the time the climactic  photo-finish  match at the posh Lords  stadium unravels in all its historically astute glory, the  audience is so invested  in   the film it feels like  the  entire slab of sports  history has been effortlessly converted  into the  crisp currency  of cinematic  history.

You don’t really have  to be a cricket fanatic  to  understand how  important the 1983 World cup victory was  for India  and Indians. Even Mrs Indira Gandhi, then ruling country with iron hands, realized  how vital it was for our boys to bring that  Cup back.

Somewhere in the course of  the undulating  though  well-balanced and  authentic storytelling (script by  Kabir Khan, Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan, Vasan Bala)  the formidable Mrs G is  heard telling her cowering cabinet, “Let there be  a television set  in every home to watch  the  World Cup  so that the nation’s attention can be diverted from political issues.”

don’t know how accurate these assumptions so  nimbly knitted  into Kabir Khan’s  gamely yarn of  the World Cup’s  power and reach are. But the film makes  you want to believe in its strikingly nationalist  assumptions.

There is  a  sense of  imminent  urgency and  unquestionable credibility  cutting through the  sports drama, as though to celebrate  and  mock the  sports tropes at   the same time.

We  don’t really know if all the events   so charmingly  described in the film, leading up to the  victory, actually happened. Even if some of this is  conjectural  creativity,  there is  absolutely no  way one  can question  the narrative’s right to  interpret  sports history  as it thinks right, as long as  the final  triumph is not diluted  or compromised.

An unflinching  propriety  manned by masterstrokes  of  effortless candour  and  underscored  by Julius Packium’s crowd-friendly background score, run  through the  saga bringing back  to us the  great  1983  victory with a vividness we have  not experienced before in any sports drama. Of course  Ashutosh  Gowariker’s Lagaan and Shimit Amin’s Chak De were  great films delineating the  complex  relationship  between sports and politics  in a nation where every citizen  is a  potential score keeper  if not a  game player .

 Kabir Khan cleverly  kicks into India’s obsession with cricket and eventually turns an underdog saga into a triumphant  tale  unforeseen heroism. The  casting  of  the cricketers, so crucial to the  efficacy  of  the end-product,  is almost impeccable. Jiva as Srikkant and  Amy Wirk as Balwinder Sandhu are  notably  effective. Some  of the  other players specially Sunny Gavaskar and Sandeep Patil are  not so well-played.Pankaj Tripathi as  the  team’s  manager manages  to be characteristically  spot-on. But  Deepika Padukone as  Romi  Kapil Dev is quite unnecessary.

 What  works wonderfully  in  the  film’s favour is  the team’s commitment  to getting  it right. The matches look authentic. Cameo appearances  by Kapil Dev and Lala Amarnath  do not  appear gimmicky. No one is in this  for attention. There is  a sense  of  profound  commitment  underlining even the most  crowdwooing  moments, such as  that recurring visual of  a  little  boy with his father rooting for Kapil, or Boman Irani as  a radio commentator  sobbing at the end.

This  is  not a film to be taken  lightly.  It is relevant and  historic  and  yet it  succeeds  in not  being selfimportant.  Standing tall  at the  apex  of the   drama is Kapil Dev, the affable desi captain  of  the  team, so kind and yet a  born leader.

I looked for Ranveer Singh  in  83 . But I couldn’t find him.

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