ETimes Decoded: As India continues its dream run at the World Cup, revisiting Ranveer Singh’s classic, yet underrated act in Kabir Khan’s 83 | Hindi Movie News – Times of India

His histrionics and gregarious nature apart, Ranveer Singhis one of the finest performers Bollywood has seen in the last decade or so. Starting out as the quintessential middle class lanky Delhi boy Bittu in Maneesh Sharma’s Band Baaja Baaraat, the actor went on to star in Lootera (2013), Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela (2013), Bajirao Mastani (2015), Padmaavat (2018), and the recent Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani (2023), giving his career the zig-zag curve it needed the most.Never shying from embracing his metrosexual personality, the actor has always managed to hold his own and let his character shine. (which is quite a feat, considering how overwhelming his personality can be)

Apart from the stand out performances mentioned above, one role that Ranveer Singh managed to ace (commercial success notwithstanding) was Kabir Khan’s 83 (2021), slipping into massive shoes of former Indian Cricket captain Kapil Dev, who was hugely instrumental in helping India clench its maiden World Cup trophy in 1983. Hardly the ‘favourite’ bunch, the team that was not even considered a ‘competition’, literally rose from the ashes to create history.
First things first – biographies (or real life tales) are insanely difficult to recreate. Remember the Bhagat Singh debacle, where no one except Ajay Devgn managed to get it right? Then there was Emraan Hashmi’s poor attempt at emulating one of India’s most successful captains Mohammad Azharuddin in Azhar, followed by Parineeti Chopra’s dismal portrayal of badminton pro Saina Nehwal in Saina. Apart from these, Vivek Oberoi failed at donning the mantle of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Anupam Kher, though honest in his performance as former PM Manmohan Singh, hardly grabbed eyeballs for The Accidental Prime Minister.

Ask any movie critic or aficionado, and they will tell you that the sign of a good biopic is that the lines between real and reel become blurred and you start seeing a character, instead of the actor. Case in point being Ranbir Kapoor’s brilliant portrayal of Sanjay Dutt in Sanju, with many fans hilariously commenting that in certain portions, Ranbir was looking more like Sanjay Dutt than the man himself!
Coming back to 83, sports dramas in Bollywood have always remained a tricky affair and except a Lagaan (that was a heady mix of sports, period drama and patriotism), most movies even though acclaimed well, have been unable to send cash registers ringing at the BO.
While 83 too had a lukewarm response at the BO, it had its heart in the right place, with Ranveer carrying the movie almost entirely on his shoulders. From a loud, elite Sindhi family, he transitioned to a Chandigarh boy who could barely speak English. His mannerisms are spot on too, especially in scenes where he is struggling to speak in the Queen’s language, considering that he has grown up conversing in it.

Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone steal hearts with their PDA

The movie also weaves in India’s baby steps towards development, 36 years after Independence. As India qualifies for the semi-final for the first time in World Cup History, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi orders her ministry to ensure that every town and village in the country gets a television service so that the semi-final match can be broadcast.
Apart from stepping into the shoes of Kapil Dev, Ranveer and director Kabir Khan had the added responsibility to portray India’s World Cup sojourn as honestly as possible – to the point and with as little as theatrics as possible. While many of us millennials were probably not even born when India clenched the coveted title, our parents and grandparents watched history being created and till date, remember even the minor details. Apart from being the dark horse, the team was also subjected to ridicule at the hands of the more ‘polished’ teams and was not even issued a pass to the iconic Lord’s stadium till they actually made it to the finals!
Some movies, a far cry from the commercial trappings of Bollywood are made purely with intent and 83 is one such movie. A scene where Ranveer Singh struggles to converse in English while saying ‘they are here to win the World Cup’ is pure gold, juxtaposing his awkwardness with the desire to give it all for the country. Even the man himself, Kapil Dev commented that it seemed like he was watching himself on screen most of the time. Take a bow Ranveer!

Apart from Ranveer Singh, Kabir Khan also does a brilliant job of building up the other members of the team – starting from Harrdy Sandhu as Madan Lal, Tahir Raj Bhasin as Sunil Gavaskar, Saqib Saleem as Mohinder Amarnath, Neena Gupta as Rajkumari Nikhanj and Deepika Padukone in an extended cameo as Romi Dev, all actors breathe life into the characters. Pankaj Tripathi as team Manager PR Man Singh is fab, constantly motivating the team, shielding them from all the negativity brimming outside closed doors.
To say that cricket is not just a sport in the country would be a gross understatement. As India works harder and harder to (hopefully) pick the most coveted cricket trophy for the third time, all we can croon is lehra do, lehra do, sarkashi ka paracham lehra do…

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