An Indian team, which were not even considered a potent winner of a Cricket World Cup, made history by clinching the title in 1983, sending shockwaves to the dominant finalist West Indies. Filmmaker Kabir Khan, credited for films like ‘Ek Tha Tiger‘ and ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan‘, roped in Ranveer Singh to portray India’s first World Cup winning captain Kapil Dev for his film on the 1983 team, ’83’. On a winter afternoon on a Kolkata rooftop joint, Khan in the company of Kapil Dev shares his experience of making ’83’. Excerpts:
How far do you think Ranveer Singh did justice to the character?
Ultimately it’s going to be the audience who will decide. As a filmmaker, I am very happy with what Ranveer has done. Right in the beginning of the process, I told Ranveer that it was not a look-alike test, so we don’t have to bother much with how similar he looks to Kapil Dev as long as he gets his persona and energy.
I think Ranveer has captured that beautifully and this is evident from the response we got from the trailer. As a filmmaker, I can say that the audience will perceive Ranveer Singh as Kapil Dev within 10 minutes after the film starts.
Was Ranveer Singh your first choice to portray Kapil Dev on screen?
Yes, absolutely. I think it’s called the director’s instinct. We start contemplating about the cast while thinking about a character. For me, Ranveer was always my first choice. It was the first call I made and I am happy that he (Ranveer Singh) also immediately and instinctively jumped into the opportunity. Who wouldn’t like to play Kapil Dev (on screen)? I am glad that he took that challenge on.
In the course of the film, you have interviewed a lot of sportspersons and audiences. So have you almost gone back to the documentary making days?
Yes. My approach to ’83’ was similar to my approaches to documentaries. It was a lot of intense, exhaustive research and that is why I enjoyed the process so much. I approached it like a journalist. I wanted to interview various concerned people, speak to them, get their viewpoints, eyewitness’ accounts. To be able to get the mountain of information and then create the script out of it made the journey so enjoyable.
Tell us about the days when Ranveer Singh was training to get the bowling styles of Kapil Dev as a preparation for the character.
We were not training Ranveer Singh to play like Kapil Dev. He was basically mimicking him. Kapil Dev’s batting style was like a complicated dance move which Ranveer Singh was training to learn. It was about getting the style correct. Obviously, he was not going to deliver a ball like Kapil Dev would do it. He spent a lot of time getting the body language correct, to tone his body like a cricketer. All credits to him (Ranveer Singh) that he spent four-five hours everyday for five months just playing cricket.
How much have you been able to show Kapil Dev in the film?
See, the film is about India’s 1983 Cricket World Cup winning team. ’83’ is not a biopic on Kapil Dev. It is a story of that team which had won the first world cup. Yes of course, Kapil Dev was the captain who led the team from the front. I feel as a captain, he (Kapil Dev) was an anchor of the team. Ranveer has captured Kapil Dev’s belief that slowly spilled into all teammates of winning the world cup. Kapil Dev’s belief in that world cup is the spine of the film.
(Kapil Dev Images by Souvik Das / Kabir Khan image courtesy his Facebook)