India’s triumph at the 1983 World Cup is a golden memory that connects generations of Indian cricket fans – many of them not among us anymore, and many enjoying their retired life. You could surely remember at least one sweet old person who can proudly recall listening to the radio commentary of Mohinder Amarnath trapping Michael Holding in front of the wicket, resulting in India’s first World Cup win. A few others remember watching that moment of euphoria on television.
It surely was an epoch making event that had many consequences. Cricketing culture soon thrived in the country. Cricket replaced hockey as India’s popular sport. Even in remote villages of the country, children started to play the game in paddy fields, streets and gullys. India became a big market for a game that was bound to generate big money with television’s boom. ‘Kapil’s Devils’ thus impacted not only the sporting dynamics of the country, but their win over the mighty West Indies boosted India’s economy in many ways. The 1983 triumph can be arguably considered a more important win for cricket in India than the 2011 World Cup victory when MS Dhoni smacked that winning six into the Wankhede crowd. The 1983 win was more dramatic. It was a classic dark horse triumph. The victory of the underdogs in sports always has that cinematic element and India’s journey in 1983 World Cup in England has all the elements for a film. Reviews suggest that the recently released Ranveer Singh-starrer 83 has delivered the goods. The movie directed by Kabir Khan has Ranveer Singh stealing the show in the pivotal role of captain Kapil Dev. Praise is pouring in from all quarters for this Bollywood movie, especially from the cricketing fraternity and those who were part of the 1983 campaign. 83 is a sports movie that focuses on the internal matters and sporting moments of India’s 1983 World Cup campaign. The movie is like a collage of cricketers’ biopics against the backdrop of a glorious moment in India’s sporting history. If that’s obvious to imagine in cinematic terms considering the magnitude of the real event, there’s a much more layered narrative from Malayalam cinema that showed how this moment of cricketing glory touched the lives of common people. The 2014 movie titled 1983 directed by Abrid Shine was much smaller in budget, much smaller in star cast, much smaller in all aspects of marketing and reach compared to Ranveer’s 83, but it just might have an equal or a greater soul to it, considering how well it connects with any Indian who grew up watching the highs and lows of Indian cricket.
The movie follows the journey of Rameshan played by Nivin Pauly. The movie connects some key events from Indian cricket history with the life journey of Rameshan who is from a small village in Kerala. Born on the same day when India won the 1983 World Cup, Rameshan’s love for cricket was from birth. The movie follows Rameshan’s journey in life from childhood to teenage to adulthood and fatherhood. He manages to overcome the disappointments and failures in his life by comparing it with India’s tough luck in World Cups since 1983 till 2011. The movie has a heartwarming climax and many soulful moments that will last in the memory of any viewer who is passionate about something but has to be satisfied with something totally opposite. 1983 in that way is more than a sports movie which shows how often reality is indifferent about our dreams and passions and yet how we manage to live and hope to dream again without getting shattered by its distasteful indifference. The movie treats this hard truth in a humorous way. One example is when Rameshan who is a diehard fan of Sachin Tendulkar is married to Pushpalatha who looks at the poster of Sachin and asks ‘who’s this?’ on their first night. The reaction of Rameshan to this and the subsequent scenes can make any one laugh.
The movie also shows how hard it is for a common man who struggles to make ends meet to find his way into professional cricket which is always considered as a capitalist sport with children from big cities and better financial background having more advantage over children from villages with lesser privileges. The movie shows how Rameshan draws inspiration from MS Dhoni, who emerged as a player from a small village in Jharkhand to become a World Cup winning captain of India, and uses it to help his son gain confidence for cricket selection.
The movie is treated in a light hearted manner with humorous and emotional moments. It ends on a positive note with Rameshan managing to help his son get a place in the sub junior district cricket team amidst adversities. Nivin Pauly won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Actor and Abrid Shine won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Debut Director for 1983 in 2015.