‘83’, one of the most anticipated films of the year, is due to hit theatres on December 24. The film, directed by Kabir Khan and starring Ranveer Singh as cricket icon Kapil Dev, is about India's historic win in the 1983 cricket World Cup.
Khan has described his experience recreating one of the country's most memorable cricket moments. In an interview with Indian Express, he stated, “It’s been a labour of love that we have nurtured for years. I cannot wait for everyone to finally watch that come alive on screen,”
From sharing their story and giving him the freedom to interpret it, the director recalls that the original team made it his story to tell and never intruded in his filmmaking space. “Kapil Dev sir told us that they will all sit together as a team and watch 83 when it’s released. They have refused to see any screening”, he said.
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The casting procedure, according to the director, was intensive. He explained that he had to be certain that all the details were correct when recreating an event that is so legendary and profoundly ingrained in Indians' collective memory. “Everybody, at least the ones above the age of 45, knows what happened in each of the matches. So to live up to that was a responsibility”, he added.
Khan said that Deepika Padukone's casting had nothing to do with Singh. “I would have gone to Deepika even if she was not married to Ranveer. I have admired her over the years and she is a fantastic actor, with such an amazing presence.”
He also recalled meeting Dev and his wife Romi Bhatia a few years ago and expressed his thought that Dev’s life would be incomplete without Bhatia. As a result, he chose to put Bhatia in the story.
Khan revealed that it took around 18-20 months to finalise the cast. Not only they had to have some physical resemblance but also know how to play the sport. “Honestly, they had to first pass the test on the pitch and then the acting audition. Even post that, they had to be on two months probation to see how they are performing.”
The crew behind 83 got Malcolm Marshall and Gordon Greenidge's sons to play their fathers on TV during a five-week cricket-cum-casting workshop held in the West Indies. It was also decided that Clive Lloyd's son would play fast bowling legend Joel Garner.
On being asked if an OTT release was ever on Khan's mind due to the pandemic and many delays, Khan replied that while the lockdown caused moments of frustation and anger, they were always dedicated to a theatrical release because '83' was built for a big-screen experience.