India’s win at the 1983 Cricket World Cup is the quintessential underdog story. On 18 June, 1983, India’s skipper Kapil Dev stepped onto the crease at 9/4 and went on to score 175 runs not out in an innings that Wisden dubbed “one of the most spectacular innings played in this form of cricket.”
An event like that deserves to be immortalised in cinema. Kabir Khan’s sports drama 83 chronicles the events of the historic win with Ranveer Singh starring as Kapil Dev. Talking about the actor’s transformation, Dev told The Quint, “I was really surprised as to how the make-up people can do the job.”
Mohinder 'Jimmy' Amarnath
Former Indian team Vice-Captain Mohinder 'Jimmy' Amarnath comes with legacy- his father Lala Amarnath was the first post-independence Indian captain. Amarnath’s performance at the 1983 World Cup led to him winning the ‘Man of the Match’ title in the semi-finals and the finals. His intuitive bowling only conceded 12 runs in 7 overs in a match against West Indies.
Saqib Saleem, who plays the ‘Comeback King’ in 83 said in a statement, “I was psyched when the role of Vice-Captain Amarnath in 83 came to me. All those hours spent watching matches, analysing players’ game and crunching numbers were well worth it.”
In Kapil Dev’s words (said in a video for CRED), “He (Sunil Gavaskar) was so committed to his work. Sometimes you learn from your colleagues. Once he said, ‘You can’t make hundred in one over so you have to have small targets.’…So, Sunshine was our hero.”
Gavaskar told India Today that he realised Tahir Raj Bhasin was playing him in the film when he was standing next to the cricketer. Gavaskar said, “He was standing next to me. I suddenly saw somebody very familiar standing next to me. He was standing exactly like I did. And then I realised he is playing me.”
Ravi Shastri, now a popular name in cricket, wasn’t selected for many important matches in the World Cup, but he did step in for Gavaskar for two matches. In the matches, he opened with Krishnamachari Srikkanth and this became a successful partnership that also led India to its win at the World Championship of Cricket (WCC) in Australia.
Shastri is played by actor Dhairya Karwa. Sharing his look in the film, 83 actor Ranveer Singh had written, "BABYFACE ASSASSIN!!! The youngest gun amongst the Devils.”
Madan Lal consistently put his best foot forward during the 1983 tournament, especially in the qualification match against Australia wherein he took four wickets. With Roger Binny matching that, Australia left the pitch with a score of 129 all out.
Kapil Dev recalled that he was hesitant about handing the ball to Lal for another over after Vivian Richards had scored well in the previous one. But Lal insisted and ended up dismissing Richards on 33 off 28 balls.
Madan Lal is portrayed by singer Harrdy Sandhu, who was a part of the under-19 Indian cricket team and has played with the likes of Shikhar Dhawan and Ishant Sharma.
Krishnamachari Srikkanth was the opening batsman for India at the 1983 WC and scored 38 runs in the finals against West Indies making him the top scorer. India defeated the defending champions by 33 runs.
When Kapil Dev and Srikkanth were guests on Viu India’s Cricket Diaries, the former skipper had revealed that Srikkanth had earned the nickname ‘Dadpadango’ because he kept dropping things.
Actor Jiiva, who plays Srikkanth, told The Hindu, “I have decent cricketing skills and it is similar to Srikkanth sir’s idea of winging it. I spoke to Srikkanth and he casually said ‘Paathukalaam va’ (‘Don’t worry, we’ll do it’).”
Balwinder Singh Sandhu
Balwinder Singh Sandhu has only played for 2 years but on 25 June, 1983, he bowled the ball that made history. It was the finals watch against West Indies- a win would mean a hattrick for the team- and Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Hayes were the openers.
Sandhu pitched the ball that crashed into the stumps and dismissed Greenidge. Speaking of the moment, Sandhu told MoneyControl, “Greenidge made the ball memorable by leaving it. He got deceived.”
Ammy Virk plays Balwinder Sandhu in 83 and the latter’s grandson says that “it’s Ammy’s film.”
Yashpal Sharma scored a crucial 89 runs against West Indies during the match at Old Trafford which arguably lifted the team’s spirits in a battle against the cricket giants. Sharma again emerged as the top scorer in the semi-finals against England and Amarnath believes that Sharma’s innings won them that match.
Jatin Sarna said that he had ‘no idea about Yashiji’, the cricketer he plays on-screen, citing that as his reason for hesitating to accept the role. Sarna then told DNA, “But after doing the film, I do feel that he hadn't got his due.”
Sandeep Patil was known as the ‘night captain’ by the 1983 World Cup team and the players relied on him for everything off the pitch- from parties to fashion. During an episode of The Kapil Sharma Show, Kapil Dev also joked that the team loved the night captain more than him.
Sandeep is in the unique position of being portrayed by his son Chirag Patil. Talking about the hardest part of preparing for the role, Chirag told Rajdeep Sardesai, “Firstly, my dad’s stance, and secondly, his two different walks. He had a different walk for the field and another one for the evening.”
Syed Kirmani was the team’s wicket keeper and took five catches in the match against Zimbabwe turning the tide heavily in India’s favour. India won the match by 5 wickets dismissing their opponents for a score a 155.
Actor Sahil Khattar recalled the moment he met Syed ‘Kiri’ Kirmani and told IANS, “As we all can see that one common factor in both of us is our bald look. So when I met Kiri bhai for the first time, he reacted to me, saying, 'Are! Kiri bhai!'. I said to him, 'No sir, you are Kiri bhai’.”
Roger Binny contributed massively to India’s WC win especially by becoming the highest wicket taker with 18 wickets. Notably, the right-arm medium pacer played a crucial role in dismissing Australia with a score of 129 runs all out.
Actor Nishant Dahiya opened up about playing Binny in 83 and said that he had multiple injures on his wrist, ankle, and knee from trying to mimic Binny’s ‘unorthodox’ style. Dahiya also told Times Now Digital that Kabir Khan and Balwinder Sandhu believed that he would be able to portray Binny even though he failed to get the bowling right at first.
Kirti Azad took the formidable player Ian Botham's wicket and the ball surprised even captain Kapil Dev. Azad revealed that after he dismissed Botham, the skipper asked him, “‘Well bowled, Kirti but tell me one thing, ball will either be low or it will turn. How was this ball low and turned?” Azad admitted he still doesn’t know how it happened.
Dinker Sharma told OTTPlay that he wasn’t considered for any role in Ranveer Singh-starrer 83 since the casting director didn’t believe he resembled any of the players. However, he got a call after six months, auditioned again, and was chosen to play Kirti Azad.
Dilip Vengsarkar was injured in the match against West Indies when Malcolm Marshall's ball hit his face. As a result, he missed the match where Dev hit the iconic 175. Sandeep Patil wrote for The Quint that Vengsarkar got the nickname ‘Colonel’ after his century during the Mumbai VS Rest of India match at Nagpur in 1974. The commentator Late Lala Amarnath equated his style to that of Colonel CK Nayadu.
Adinath Kothare plays the Colonel on-screen.