Full disclosure: Spoilers ahead! Though if you haven't booked your tickets for 83 yet, you might still want to read this.
I'm no movie reviewer, but I'm a cricket fan as diehard as they come. And if you are too, like practically half of India, here are six reasons you might love the film 83 just as much as I did.
Most of the Cricketers Play Just Like the Originals
If you're an Indian cricket fan who was born long after 1983, or were too young at the time of the tournament to remember anything, I'm pretty sure you must have watched and rewatched old clips from India's glorious '83 campaign on TV or on YouTube.
One of the things the film 83 does best is recreate that match footage with an attention to detail that's almost magical. From the bowling actions to the batters' strokeplay, the cricket bit of the cricket film is marvellously similar to the original. And if you've binged on those YouTube videos, you'll know what I'm talking about.
It's one thing for an actor playing Viv Richards to imitate the swagger of the West Indian great as he chewed gum and destroyed bowling oppositions, but it's quite something for him to play his cricketing strokes just like Richards did.
From the way Sunil Gavaskar took guard and the exact manner in which he edged an Andy Roberts delivery to the keeper in the final, to the way Malcolm Marshall ran in to bowl his fiery bouncers, director Kabir Khan has somehow managed to make the cricket seem like a re-telecast instead of a shoot with actors.
The Amarnath Connection - A Lovely Touch
Mohinder Amarnath, referred to by his nickname Jimmy through most of the film, was instrumental to India's phenomenal Cup-winning campaign - he won the Player of the Match award in both the semi-final and the final! And one of the film's fine touches is that it got Mohinder Amarnath in an acting role - but not as himself.
While Saqib Saleem plays Mohinder's role, Mohinder himself plays the role of his father Lala Amarnath, a former Indian Test captain and the first Indian to score a Test century.
It felt like a gratifying tribute to watch the real Mohinder admonish and later applaud his younger self while playing the role of his dad, especially when he reacted to his own contributions towards India winning the semi-final against England and final against West Indies.
Kapil Takes a Catch Off Kapil's Six!
The other cricketer from the original team to make an appearance as an actor in the film is Kapil Dev himself! When Kapil (played by Ranveer Singh) smashes one of his six sixes in that tournament-changing world record innings of 175 not out versus Zimbabwe, it is caught by a spectator in the stands. And who is that spectator?
Kapil Dev himself!
It was a Marvel creator Stan Lee-like cameo in a movie that wouldn't have been made had Kapil's heroics from that day never occurred and India crashed out of the tournament. And you bet that seeing the legend on screen take a catch off his own six left us hooting in the movie theatre!
Mixing Real and Reel, in Between Scenes
One of my favourite things about 83 is how director Kabir Khan has intercut footage from the original matches while recreating the match scenes.
During the semifinal against England, for example, the crowd had rushed onto the field in premature celebrations - even as India still had one more run needed to win. England eventually put ALL their fielders on the offside, so that they could quickly run away from the field once that final run was scored, before another mass pitch invasion.
For '83' to intercut that epic scene, of spectators swarming the ground as a beaming Kapil Dev and Sandeep Patil quite literally ran off to victory, with bits from the actual match footage made the scene all the more special.
This technique of intercutting original match footage and the film shoots has been done at multiple points in the film, and to great effect.
For instance, that the whizzing bouncers by the deadly West Indies pace attack of Roberts, Garner, Marshall and Holding were indeed scary is reinforced with great impact in the audience's minds by the footage of their actual bouncers playing on screen intercut with the film shots.
When Dilip Vengsarkar is hit on the chin by a Marshall bouncer in India's penultimate match against the Windies in the tournament, the real footage of the bloodied batsman and the bowler's nonchalant reaction to it adds to the realism of the encounter, building up the tension to the final.
And of course, the moment of Kapil lifting the Cup wouldn't have been the same had we not seen the real one along with the reel one on screen.
Shot in 'Photographic Detail'
I know we've already mentioned it, but there's another reason I wish to talk about the attention to photographic detail in the movie - the photographs bit of it.
There are several iconic images from the 1983 World Cup - like a photograph which shows a spectator leaping on to Kapil Dev's back after his historic over-the-shoulder catch to dismiss Viv Richards in the final. The movie has dutifully recreated these photos with precise detail.
Another such photo that deserves a mention for how it has been captured on screen is the photograph of the eight teams at the start of the tournament. The movie gets it spot on, including the detail of team manager P R Man Singh (played by Pankaj Tripathi) moving a bit to his left to be visible in the photo behind the tall Ravi Shastri!
The film shows Shastri and Man Singh joking about the former's height before the reel transitions into real, and the original photo appears on screen.
Giving Birth to A New Generation of Cricket Lovers, & Among them, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar
As the final begins and everyone huddles up in front of television sets back home in India, we see a curly-haired boy being called to watch the match - and a young Sachin Tendulkar rushes to join the viewing party!
Sachin is later shown celebrating India's World Cup win, and saying that he too wishes to play for India! Well, we all know how that turned out, don't we?
It was one of the fan-favourite moments of the movie and another lovely small touch by the makers of 83.
Bonus Reason: Stay for the Credits!
The credits get the real Kapil Dev and team manager P R Man Singh on screen. Kapil recollects a night of celebration after the final. And Man Singh recalls an incident that has been left to be the final story in a film filled with anecdotes.
Man Singh speaks about David Frith, editor of the Wisden Cricket Monthly, who had earlier argued that given India's poor performances in the previous two World Cups, the team could give way to other would-be participants instead. After Kapil's Devils went on all the way to win the Cup in 1983, manager Man Singh wrote to Frith asking him to eat his words.
Man Singh recalls how Frith did eventually eat his words, chewing the page with a glass of red wine!
You don't want to miss this, and the photographs of the original team and their time in England during the World Cup, which are shown as the end credits of the film roll by.
All in all, 83 is a film I thoroughly enjoyed. As a cricket fan, it gave me a chance to live through an experience I wasn't around to witness firsthand, and I'm grateful to Kabir Khan and team for pulling it off so well - with the fun anecdotal nuggets, spot-on depictions, and sprinkling of archival match footage to boot.
(Relive 'The Summer of 83' through a special interactive by The Quint by clicking here. Explore the lesser-known tales of the tournament, participate in our '83 World Cup Quiz, and discover the record feats that forever changed the history of Indian cricket.)
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