One of the greatest-ever ODI knocks has absolutely no audio-visual reference.
Okay, there is an audio reference in the form of a BBC radio commentary of that iconic Kapil Dev 175 not out against Zimbabwe, and there are some images too. But there is no video evidence of just how Kapil Dev destroyed Zimbabwe at a small little county ground at Tunbridge Wells during the 1983 World Cup.
Over the years, there have been rumours about how some Indians at the ground recorded the match, but no one has ever come forward! So overall, the only reference point for all of us has been some of the images and memories of some Indian squad members, apart from some of the journalists.
Now, finally there is some audio-visual reference for that knock of 175 not out thanks to the Kabir Khan-directed movie 83, which will release on 24 December in theatres across the globe.
The knock is beautifully captured on celluloid for posterity, thanks to some recreation of that day in 1983 and to the inputs provided by all the members of the Indian squad from that tournament.
That is really the highlight of the movie, which lasts for around two hours and 42 minutes starring Ranveer Singh & Co. We who follow the game for passion and for a living have heard different stories about the match, whether it is with regards to the fact that Kapil was in the shower when the Indian batting commenced or if it relates to the superstition of team manager PR Mansingh. The Hyderabadi born Mansingh famously asked the players to stand or do whatever they were doing till Kapil was batting or at the crease. That meant that Krishnamachari Srikkanth stood the entire time during the course of Kapil’s knock without being able to relieve himself because the manager did not allow him to. This movie captures all that and more.
It is terrific to see the 175 not out being finally played out on the big screen. But sadly, the film allows some myths to become fact by once propagating a fiction which has been debunked many times over the years.
The BBC was NOT on strike that day, 18 June 1983. There were three other matches being played that very day: Pakistan was playing England at Manchester; Australia was squaring off against West Indies at Lord’s and New Zealand was taking on Sri Lanka at Derby. The fact is that the BBC would pick important matches to televise during the tournament. Unlike these days where every match is televised, in 1983 it was not important for the BBC to show every game.
Hence, they decided not to telecast the India v Zimbabwe game because it was deemed unimportant. The fact is if the BBC was indeed on strike, there would have been no radio commentary provided by them, which also featured former India wicket-keeper Farokh Engineer.
Sadly, the movie had a golden chance of busting that myth forever but they chose to let it linger on. Now, that it has been captured on celluloid is a myth that will live forever, even if you keep busting it from every possible rooftop!
Oh, and one more thing, if Sam Curran and Tom Curran, current English limited-overs stars, do see the movie, ask them to skip a part of this Kapil hurricane knock. A particular moment during this match, late Kevin Curran, father of Sam and Tom, is shown mocking Kapil for being just a slogger. Kapil confirms this incident in his 1986 autobiography Cricket My Style, but sadly Kevin is not around to corroborate it!
The other important aspect of the movie is the usage of real match footage alongside the reel match action. This has been done wonderfully.
The introduction of the four mean West Indies fast bowlers: Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Malcolm Marshall specially sends a chill down your spine. It really captures just how dangerous this hit squad was then. Kudos to the director Kabir Khan for having captured this very well.
But one thing that stood out like a sore thumb is the depiction of West Indies wicket-keeper Jeff Dujon. The legendary stumper from Jamaica always loved a smile and never spoke a word except when it came to encouraging his fast bowlers. But in the movie, he is shown as taking on Indian opener Srikkanth during the league match and in the final. It is an unnecessary addition to the movie as Dujon was never anywhere close to being nasty even if it was a brief while during the 1983 World Cup. The makers have probably used some cinematic liberties while trying to show the Indian players as the heroes.
One aspect that they could have shown is the animosity that existed between Marshall and Dilip Vengsarkar. The former India captain was rendered hors de combat while batting in the second league match by a Marshall thunderbolt. Marshall v Vengsarkar rivalry started in the 1978-79 series when Alvin Kallicharan came with a second-string side to India thanks to the Kerry Packer circus. The makers could have shown that rivalry a bit more in detail, but the movie was more about Kapil and his heroics.
But it is not like the Indian squad that played in the 1983 World Cup were without any faults. The movie captures briefly the `misunderstanding’ between Kapil and senior pro Sunil Gavaskar. The little master from Mumbai gets dropped or rested, whichever side you choose to believe, from two league matches (against Australia and West Indies). Now in Kapil’s book Cricket My Style it is referred to as a misinterpretation of his famed English which did not go down well with Gavaskar. This could have been built on for a bit more, because the manager Mansingh (as also shown in the movie) had to play a part in dousing the fire, but sadly that part is touched only briefly.
One unknown aspect about that tournament was the royal shellacking that Kapil gave one of his good friends in cricket, Roger Binny. That worked wonders as Binny returned magical figures against Australia in the return match and ended as one of the top wicket-takers of the tournament.
Rest of the tournament is captured as well as you can, because recreation of magical moments is always difficult, but the makers have managed to do that with some credit.
For everyone who has no recollection of or has never followed Indian cricket before, this movie is a good education of how the tournament changed the face of the sport forever.
One final interesting aspect that stood out is that there was finally a photo which confirmed that the late Abdul Qadir of Pakistan did celebrate with the Indians when they won the World Cup. It had always been rumoured that Qadir and one other Pakistan player celebrated with the Indian team in London.
Overall, the movie captures the stars of the triumph well that is Kapil, Srikkanth, Yashpal Sharma, Mohinder Amarnath, Roger Binny, Balwinder Sandhu, Sandeep Patil and Madan Lal. The three Mumbaikars: Gavaskar, Vengsarkar and Ravi Shastri, had minimal roles in the triumph hence they don’t have much of a storyline.
The movie does justice to the triumph and despite being melodramatic at times, captures everyone’s minds. This movie is sure to be a massive thunderous hit worldwide!
P.S: Probably they could shoot and a bit of the celebrations in India where Lata Mangeshkar made the entire squad sing with her in New Delhi. The song Bharat Vishwa Vijeta has never been captured before, perhaps this could be the ideal time!
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