It’s rare for a film to have such a tremendous hype even though it’s more than a year away from release. But that’s the charm of ‘83, the upcoming sports film that releases exactly a year from now – April 10, 2020. From the casting to director to release period to research and most importantly, the content, everything in the film is just bang on and it’ll help in ensuring this film creates history in all respects.
‘83, as the name suggests, is based in the year 1983 and will be based on the 1983 Cricket World Cup. It was a crucial tournament for India as the national team won the finals against the mighty West Indies team. It’s a classic underdog story and in sync with the typical masala films of Bollywood – where the ‘villains’ are tough and strong but the hero or rather in this case, the heroes, though perceived to be a bit weak put up a strong fight. Initially, the heroes get defeated and the victory of the baddies is certain. But suddenly, the tables turn and the heroes emerge victorious. This might sound filmy but this is what occurred. In the finals, India batted first and was all out at just 183 runs. Everyone was sure the West Indies would pick up the World Cup and it would have been a hattrick as they had won the previous two editions as well. But the world was stunned as West Indies quickly begun to lose wickets and were out at just 140!
As one can see, the content is a complete winner and it’s surely going to bowl the audiences over. I remember watching Lagaan (another cricket-based film and a classic) at Mumbai’s Gaiety-Galaxy theatre and I felt I was sitting in some cricket stadium witnessing a nail-biting match. This was because audiences of all gender and age were hooting and cheering. Then in 2016, the scenario was somewhat repeated during M S Dhoni – The Untold Story’s first day first show in the same cinema hall. Cricket after all is a religion in India and if the makers play it well, then a fantastic reception is guaranteed. Lagaan and M S Dhoni – The Untold Story both were well made and were huge hits. Even a documentary on legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, Sachin – A Billion Dreams, was a hit and grossed Rs. 50.89 crore, when some big commercial films have failed to reach this figure! And this is the 1983 World Cup we are talking about. Everyone in the country has some knowledge about it at least, even those who were born after this feat, and feel proud about this achievement. Hence, viewers are bound to go for ‘83 in hordes. Not just youth but family audiences and kids all will be watching this film at least once.
Although there’s a lot of time left, it’s not difficult to imagine the hysteria in cinemas as the film will unfold. There of course would be silence during India’s poor innings. But celebrations, hooting, whistling and clapping would begin in full force as the Indian boys would start taking wickets. And there might be standing ovation when the character of Kapil Dev would lift the World Cup! Then there’s a not-so-known trivia of how West Indies during half time had taken away the beer cans from Indian team, as they were overconfident about their victory. After India won, Kapil Dev reportedly went to the locker room of the West Indies player and snatched the beer back from them. I get goosebumps thinking how this heroic scene would be filmed, showing Kapil’s character walking back in slow motion with the alcohol in his hand, amidst madness in cinemas!
The casting is another plus point. Ranveer Singh, riding high on the three consecutive successes of Padmaavat, Simmba and Gully Boy, plays Kapil Dev. He’ll be at par with Salman Khan as no other actor has given such huge back-to-back super hits and blockbusters! Other actors playing the various cricketers include Tahir Raj Bhasin, Saqib Saleem, Ammy Virk, Jiiva, Jatin Sarna, Vijay Varma, Sahil Khattar etc. Sandeep Patil’s part would be essayed by his son, Chirag. And the talented and lovable Pankaj Tripathi will essay the team manager P R Man Singh’s role. Kabir Khan, who has helmed blockbusters like Ek Tha Tiger and Bajrangi Bhaijaan, is at the helm and that is also good news. Agreed that he has gone wrong with films like Tubelight and Phantom but here, he seems to be the right bet. Also, he is aided by Kapil Dev and fellow ex cricketer Balwinder Singh Sandhu, and they are training the actors for authenticity.
‘83 releases on Good Friday, a huge holiday in India and also during the beneficial summer vacations for students. Hence, one can expect a record opening, above Rs. 30 crore plus. The release would be huge and the ticket rates will also be inflated. As a result, the film can cross the Rs. 100 crore mark in 3 days. And if all goes well and if it enjoys a terrific word of mouth, then sky is the limit. The biggest Bollywood grosser and also the biggest sports film of India is Aamir Khan-starrer Dangal and it collected Rs. 387.88 crore. There’s a high possibility that ‘83 might cross this figure which would be a huge feat. It might not be Bollywood’s biggest grosser as by then, films like Bharat, Brahmastra, Saaho etc would have been out and they can also do huge business and cross the Dangal figure. But ‘83 certainly has chances of being India’s biggest sports film.
Certainly, this is too soon and some might feel that these predictions for ‘83 are too tall and won’t be fulfilled. But then didn’t everyone say the same about Indian team during the 1983 World Cup as well?!