It is said that cricket is not just a sport, but a national religion, and having Bollywood make a film on an iconic moment from India’s cricketing history is like the proverbial cherry on the icing.
’83’, the upcoming multi-lingual film by Kabir Khan of ‘Ek Tha Tiger’, ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ and ‘Tubelight’ fame, which revolves around India’s historic win at 1983 ICC World Cup, is a homage to a cricket-obsessed nation.
The film narrates the heart-warming story of how the Indian cricket team under the leadership of Kapil Dev, essayed by actor Ranveer Singh, clearly the underdogs who were not even allotted a team bus, brought home the World Cup after an intense match against West Indies, the two-time World Cup winner led by the legendary Clive Lloyd.
In the previous two editions of the World Cup, in fact, India had only won one match.
We look at the ’83’ World Cup squad skippered by the inimitable Ranveer Singh and with Pankaj Tripathi playing a completely uncharacteristic role as the team’s understated manager, P.R. Man Singh.
Ranveer Singh as Kapil Dev
Bollywood’s livewire star has stepped into the shoes of the legendary all-rounder Kapil Dev, who led the Indian cricket team from the front, scoring 303 runs with an average of 60.60 and taking 12 wickets. Ranveer is said to have worked intensely on his style and looks for the film, training under the ‘Haryana Hurricane’ to get his bowling action and famous ‘Natraj’ hook shot right. Ranveer’s wife and ’83’ co-star, Deepika Padukone, is one of the film’s co-producers.
Tahir Raj Bhasin as Sunil Gavaskar
He gained popularity by portraying the anti-hero in the 2014 film ‘Mardaani’. In ’83’, Bhasin will be seen playing the cricketing legend Sunil Gavaskar, who may not have scored big at the 1983 World Cup, but will always be cherished for the glory he brought to India on foreign fields.
Nishant Dahiya as Roger Binny
Known for starring in the 2011 comedy film ‘Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge’, Nishant will be seen playing all-rounder Roger Binny, who topped the bowling table at the 1983 World Cup, taking 18 wickets in eight matches.
Saqib Saleem as Mohinder ‘Jimmy’ Amarnath
He shared screen space with Nishant in ‘Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge’ and now he brings alive the story of the stylish cricketer of his time, who was named Man of the Match in the final and semi-final. Son of another Indian cricketing legend and unforgettable commentator, Lala Amarnath, Jimmy Amarnath’s economical bowling (12 runs in seven overs and three wickets to boot) threw the West Indies batting lineup into a state of disarray.
Dhairya Karwa as Ravi Shastri
The actor who played Sartaj in “Uri: The Surgical Strike’, Vicky Kaushal’s 2019 star vehicle, will play the then not-so-well-known Ravi Shastri, who went on to be regarded as an accomplished all-rounder, commentator with quite a fan following, and head coach to Virat Kohli’s Men in Blue.
Ammy Virk as Balwinder Sandhu
The popular Punjabi singer and actor will essay the role of the medium pacer Balwinder Sandhu, who may have had a short Test career, but made headlines after he clean bowled West Indies opener Gordon Greenidge with an in-swinger in the 1983 Final.
Sahil Khattar as Syed Kirmani
Television host and funnyman Sahil Khattar will play Syed Kirmani, one of India’s most durable wicket-keepers who was conferred with the C.K.Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016. He will always be remembered for his unbroken 126-run, ninth-wicket partnership with Kapil Dev against Zimbabwe in 1983, enabling Team India to stave off certain elimination from the 1983 World Cup. Kirmani’s contribution to the partnership was an unbeaten 26 runs; Kapil Dev scored 175 not out with 16 fours and six sixes.
Chirag Patil as Sandeep Patil
Marathi actor Chirag Patil, son of former cricketer Sandeep Patil, will reprise his father’s story in ’83’. Patil Senior played in the 1983 World Cup despite an injury and though he scored a modest 216 in eight innings, he’s remembered for enabling winning partnerships for India at critical moments in the World Cup.
Harrdy Sandhu as Madan Lal
Known for belting out hits such as ‘Naah’, ‘Backbone’ and ‘Bijliee bijliee’, Punjabi singer Harrdy Sandhu will be seen in action as former all-rounder and national cricket coach Madan Lal, who took the critical wicket of Sir Viv Richards (caught spectacularly by Kapil Dev) and two more in the 1983 final. Lal completed his stint at the World Cup with 17 wickets off eight matches, ranked only after Roger Binny and sharing the spot with the Sri Lankan Ashantha de Mel.
R. Badree as Sunil Valson
R. Badree, who was last seen in Kabir Khan’s Prime Video series, ‘The Forgotten Army: Azaadi Ke Liye’, will be seen as the Delhi cricketer Sunil Valson, who was the only member of the 1983 World Cup squad who did not get a chance to play in any of the matches.
Addinath Kothare as Dilip Vengsarkar
Marathi actor and filmmaker Addinath Kothare will be seen as the top order batsman and prolific run-getter from Mumbai, Dilip Vengsarkar, who took over the captaincy from Kapil Dev after the 1987 Cricket World Cup.
Jatin Sarna as Yashpal Sharma
Popularly known as Bunty from ‘Sacred Games’, Jatin Sarna will play the late cricketer Yashpal Sharma, who was also known as the inventor of the ‘Badam Shot’. Sharma scored 89 runs in India’s first group match against West Indies in the 1983 World Cup, which led to the first shocking defeat for the two-time world champions at Old Trafford, Manchester.
Dinker Sharma as Kirti Azad
‘Delhi Crime’ star Dinker Sharma will portray the flamboyant batsman and former MP Kirti Azad, who was recently in the news for joining the Trinamool Congress. Azad did not perform memorably at the historic World Cup.
Jiiva as Krishnamachari Srikkanth
Tamil star Jiiva is making his Hindi debut with ’83’, where he plays opener and former India captain Krishnamachari Srikkanth, who will be remembered for being the only Indian batsmen, apart from Jimmy Amarnath, to stand up to the blitzkrieg unleashed by the West Indies pace quartet of Andy Roberts, Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner and Michael Holding. Srikkanth scored 38 off 57 balls and Amarnath, 26 from 80.
Finally, the team manager, P.R. Man Singh, who was also a part of India’s campaign in the 1987 World Cup, where, again under Kapil Dev’s leadership, it reached up to the semi-final.
Played by Pankaj Tripathi, Man Singh became briefly famous for his letter to David Frith, the then editor of ‘Wisden’s Cricket Monthly’, where he said that the journalist would “eat his words” (he had kept underplaying the chances of the Indian team). After India proved Frith wrong, the September 1983 edition of the magazine ran a copy of the letter along with the editor’s picture with a piece of paper in his mouth, captioned, “India made me eat my words”.
–By Durga Chakravarty