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83 (Docu-Drama) - Completely focused on the players and the matches, it is like an entertaining but incomplete docudrama, riding high on nostalgia and the splendid performances. (Review By Bobby Sing)

24 Dec, 2021 | ALL ABOUT INSPIRED MOVIES / Inspired Movies (Alphabetical) / E / Movie Reviews / 2021 Releases

Watching 83 on the silver screen made me thank my stars for being there in my senses, during the era of the 1980s, when both Cricket and Cinema were alive and kicking in their innocent forms.
The film made me feel those times, the emotions and that innocence once again when we were just living with a radio, a tape-recorder, a single-channel television, books, and magazines, but nothing else. It brought back the memories of watching the not-so-perfect telecast on a Black-and-White TV along with the family and neighbours, repeatedly climbing the stairs to rearrange the direction of the roof-top antenna. Those were truly the times, and it certainly feels blessed, having lived the lively era as a young fan.
83 also turned out to be a fairly satisfying watch because it doesn’t bow down to the routine commercial requirements of a mainstream film, I had my doubts about. 
Sharing the details, firstly I was fearing the film might be a collective mimicry of the historic event with everyone consciously trying to be one of the iconic players on the field. Thankfully, the respective work of all the actors is not mimicry but responsible enactment of the famous personas, performed with utmost love and respect, displaying a class. 
Second, watching Deepika in the trailer, I feared that the film might get into the individual backstories of the players to bring in love and romance, ruining the entire premise, as repeatedly seen in many sports-based ventures. But as a pleasant surprise, the film shortly deals with the same and never sticks to the sub-plots coming back to the core theme in just a couple of minutes. That was a big relief watching a Hindi biographical film.
In straight words, what we get to see in 83 is an entertaining docu-drama, that doesn’t follow any storyline, but remains a strictly focused presentation of India’s performance in the 1983 World Cup in its various matches. Riding high on nostalgia and the popular concepts of those times, it is also a time-travel ride back to the early 80s with glimpses of Salma Sultan on the TV screen, Indira Gandhi’s political strategies, and much more. It also reminds you of the times when even a telephone line took years to get approved and installed in homes (which continued till the 90s).
The film is a treat to cherish, especially for the viewers who have been lucky to live those days watching the crucial matches on the B&W TVs or listening to the commentaries on their radio sets. For the rest, it is an equally engrossing watch but just as a summary of what all happened in a nutshell, with a lot of details missing mentioned in the downers section ahead.
Among the bright merits of 83 is its camerawork and editing, which presents it as an amalgamation of real-life footage and pictures along with the appreciable re-enactment on screen. It serves both the mature and young audience well, catering to their expectations. Going with the present trend, director Kabir Khan deliberately inserts sequences depicting nationalism related to soldiers on the border and PM office too, but doesn’t get into ‘the left and right’, staying away from any controversy. 
The most lovable casting in the film is of Mohinder Amarnath, playing his father Lala Amarnath. The moments lived as his father, must have been the most precious moments for Jimmy for sure. Another ace in the casting is Neena Gupta as Kapil’s mother, watching Viv Richards on the TV, hitting it out of the park. (The knowledgeable would easily get that)
Completely focusing on Kapil Dev and his famous mannerisms, 83 gets its sport and technique right like a rare film based on cricket. The cricketing sequences never seem to be out of sync and the narrative of the matches is almost perfectly done except crowd-shots, bringing in the cliché element. The team looks convincing on the field, with almost everyone given the deserving attention and they do complete justice to their scenes. While Tahir and Saqib remain subtle, playing Sunil Gavaskar and Mohinder Amarnath, Jiiva excels as Srikanth, and Ammy Virk impresses playing Balwinder Singh Sandhu. Both Jatin Sarna and Harrdy Sandhu get it right as Yashpal Sharma and Madan Lal, along with Nishant Dahiya as Roger Binny. However, Chirag Patil as Sandeep Patil, Addinath Kothare as Dilip Vengsarkar, Sahil Khattar as Syed Kirmani, Dinker Sharma as Kirti Azad, Dhairya Karwa as Ravi Shastri, R. Badree as Sunil Valson, and more provide valuable support in their few scenes. Deepika truly shines in her short appearance as Kapil’s wife and the rest of the cast positively contribute to the proceedings including Sachin Tendulkar as a kid watching them win.
Leading from the front, Ranveer is yet again exceptional in his portrayal and he perfectly gets Kapil’s action, stance, and broken-English accent effortlessly. It was good to see that nobody is shown feeling ashamed of his incomplete sentences, as it was indeed nothing to feel ashamed of. Kabir also indicatively shows Yashpal Sharma’s craze for film Kranti and Dilip Kumar, being played on the VCR. Yashpal narrated the same in an episode of Kapil Sharma’s show featuring the winning team. 
Stating the downers, 83 certainly informs, entertains, and enlightens the generation born post the 80s, but it is also a docu-drama only focusing on India and its matches missing a lot of other important information. 
To begin with, having a personal experience of being in the green room at the backstage of musical and entertainment shows, it’s actually impossible to reveal everything that happens in those closed walls, particularly when a lot of politics is involved among the players, committee, and selectors in the world of Cricket. As a film, 83 just informs giving a brief description of the event and the big win, without getting into the details that were widely discussed in the newspapers in the early 80s. For instance, the film never clearly makes you aware of the professional rivalry going on between the most reputed player of the team, Sunil Gavaskar and the new captain, Kapil Dev. It doesn’t reveal the star status and craze for players like Sandeep Patil, known for his long sixes or Ravi Shastri for his all-rounder skills. Interestingly, Sandeep was the only cricketer from the team cast in a romantic Hindi film as a hero, just after the World Cup win. Further, it also doesn’t focus on the outspoken, mischievous and entertaining nature of Syed Kirmani, standing behind the wickets. 
But most importantly, it neither focuses on the rivalry between the black/brown and the white nor presents the team of West Indies and its stalwarts as per their gigantic status in that era. The film doesn’t portray them as TERROR, which they were truly famous for as deadly bowlers throwing the ball with an amazing pace and perfection. On a personal note, I still remember how I used to get scared watching Marshal bowling to Gavaskar and Srikant with fire in his eyes. Besides, I couldn’t find Vivian Richards presented as he should have been in the film, making the youngster aware of his legendary stature at that specific point of time in the world of cricket. 
Thinking about this particular section of film dealing with West Indies, I also found their players irresponsibly presented as caricatures of the original legends, misinforming the youth. The same stands true for Pakistan as a team, purposefully missing from the narrative, being there in only a few seconds scene in the entire film. 
Specifically talking about India and its matches, starting from the initial practice games, 83 is also less impactful than Lagaan as a film, because here one keeps watching the game of cricket right from the first scene to the last. While in Lagaan the game begins in the last hour, in 83, it continues throughout and that brings in the monotony element after a while. 
Continuing with the most obvious downer in our present cinema, 83 also doesn’t have any worth remembering track as the sports anthem like we had in Chak De India. All the songs incorporated in the backdrop remain average and one doesn’t remember any of them while walking out of the theatre. A film like 83 certainly deserved an upbeat spirited track to take back home, but there isn’t any despite the name of Pritam in its credits. Sadly, the same can be more or less said about its background score too that could have been a lot better and energetic adding to its on-screen proceedings.
Last, Hindi cinema is known for killing an exceptionally talented artist, forcing him to do all similar kind of roles trapping him in a set image. The same is being done now with the extremely talented Pankaj Tripathi. Following the age-old practice of Bollywood, 83 yet again presents Pankaj playing the PR Maan Singh as a comic character, always supposed to bring smiles to our faces in his every scene. The question remains that when he was playing the manager of the Indian team, then what was the need to showcase him as a light-hearted, comic character? Was the real person also the same, having such funny characteristics?
On the whole, 83 is surely an informative and entertaining venture, well-crafted by the team both on and behind the screen that should ideally bring back the audience to the theatres in these tough times. That said, it isn’t a typical Hindi film but a docu-drama kind of project, entirely focusing on the performance of Indian cricket team in the World cup 1983, intentionally missing the related details.
The film has its shortcomings, but one forgets them all while watching the final match with tears flowing down the cheeks, feeling both the nostalgia and pride as an Indian. Though it doesn’t get the rating required to get into the 'Not To Be Missed Movies List' at the site, I would still like the youngsters to watch it due to three key reasons as folllowing:
One – 83 now becomes the only visual document, recreating the most important, record-breaking innings of Kapil Dev played against Zimbabwe in the tournament. (There is no recorded footage of the same in existence)
Two – This film, when watched by the younger generation, will make them aware of the era when the game was played with trust, passion, and talent with no sign of fixing or manipulation. (In complete contrast to what they might have already seen in web series like Inside Edge)
Three – Being an incomplete docu-drama indicatively pointing towards the real-life events (like highlights of a tournament), it might inspire the youngsters to dive more into the history getting the actual details about India as a team and its matches won against the unbeatable opponents.
So watch it as a must, but take it as a beginning to know more about the era and our first World Cup win orchestrated by the legend Kapil Dev.
On a concluding note, start your research by watching the documentary on West Indian cricket titled ‘Fire In Babylon’, which should be exciting enough to dig more into an unbelievable era of Cricket in the last century. The documentary will rightly make you understand, why it was such a mega achievement winning the world cup matches against the mighty West Indies. 
Rating : 3.5 + 0.5 / 5 (with the additional 0.5 for the all the heartfelt performances by the teammates brilliantly led by Ranveer under the focused direction of Kabir Khan.) 

Tags : 83 Movie Review by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, 83 The Film Review by Bobby Sing, New Hindi Films Reviews by Bobby Sing, New Bollywood Movies Reviews by Bobby Sing, 1983 India World Cup Win, Hindi film on Kapil Dev and India 1983 World cup win.
24 Dec 2021 / Comment ( 2 )
Ashutosh Singh

Such passionate writing. You outshine yourself in involvement here writing about 83 World Cup which has both cricket and cinema.

Congratulations and thanks to you Bobby ji. 

Bobby Sing

Many loving thanks Ashutosh for your kind words of praise and valuable support to my sincere works.
Stay Safe and Keep Visiting and Writing in with

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