When India won the 1983 men’s Cricket World Cup against all odds, it was the ultimate underdog story. Nobody gave them a chance, not even their own players. Having only won a solitary game in the previous two World Cups, it was only fair that the bookies had them at 50/1 to win the tournament.
Both previous editions of the World Cup had been won by the West Indies, who were almost invincible. So when the final was going to be India against West Indies, the winner seemed to have been a foregone conclusion. However, the Kapil Dev-led side had other plans.
So when it was announced that this underdog story would be documented in the form of a feature film, Indian cricket fans all around the world marked the date in their calendars. Initially set for an April 2020 release, the movie has been pushed back indefinitely due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic struggles in India.
Surprisingly, when Kapil Dev, the 1983 World Cup winning captain, himself first heard about the idea of a movie, he wasn’t very keen: “I didn’t like the idea. I thought it’s too early and I wasn’t comfortable.
“Some of the players were, and some felt no, we shouldn’t have that, because everybody has seen the ’83 World Cup story apart from a few things.
“But then, they narrated the story to us and I felt, no, its not bad. And slowly all 15 of us gave time to that thought, and if people want to hear our story then it’s okay after so many years. But in the beginning I wasn’t comfortable.”
Madan Lal, who scored a handy 17 and took the important wickets of Desmond Haynes and Sir Vivian Richards was a big part of this world cup victory. On first hearing about the possibility of the movie, Lal said it is great that the story is being told: “We never thought we were going to win the World Cup.
“We had a very good mature side, full of characters who wanted to do well. The best thing was that we had beaten the West Indies in a series in 1982 and then the opening game of the World Cup in 1983 in Manchester, which gave us confidence.
“But even then we didn’t believe we could win the World Cup because West Indies were the best team in the world, so we didn’t believe in ourselves. After that, we beat Zimbabwe and started gaining more confidence and decided to take it step by step, each game as it comes.
“That underdog story being told will be amazing and hopefully it can further inspire a generation to take up cricket and more importantly, always believe in themselves and never give up.”
Former Indian Captain Dilip Vengsarkar, who was also a part of the victorious 1983 World Cup squad, said he didn’t have much faith in their chances: “Out of the three warm up games we played leading up to the World Cup, we lost two and not many people gave us a chance, even though we had a good team.
“The odds were against us, but defeating West Indies in the first game gave us massive belief, because they were the best team in the world at the time.
“Slowly but steadily we started gaining momentum and by the time we got to the final, we realised that this West Indies team can struggle if we put them under pressure. If we let them be, they will clobber us.
“So when the news came that a movie was being made, I was excited because it will bring to light how we went about achieving what not many thought we could do.”
On numerous occasions, Sachin Tendulkar has come out and spoken about the 1983 World Cup win and how it inspired him to take up cricket.
When Kapil was reminded about this, he said: “I think it’s an accident people remember. It was a big accident that nobody has forgotten.
“If someone like Sachin Tendulkar got a passion for cricket after that, we feel proud. This is what our job is. After the 2007 T20 WC win, the next generation look up to Dhoni and his team.
“So it’s going to happen, it’s bound to happen, and you feel very happy and proud that you’ve taken the game to a different level and people follow your sport.”
This World Cup saw Kapil play one of the greatest one-day innings of all time. His 175 not out against Zimbabwe in a must-win game after coming in at 17 for 5 will never be forgotten.
Unfortunately, there were no cameras to capture this great innings at Tunbridge Wells. The popular story is that the BBC crew was on strike, but in fact they simply chose to cover other games that day.
Surprisingly, this is the only part of the movie that Kapil has seen so far: “I’ve only seen 5 mins that they’ve shown me against Zimbabwe. I said, I don’t want to see, I want to see with the people.
“That was the only thing we didn’t have on record, everything else is on record. Whatever they’re making, I would like to see as a common person, with everyone else and not as someone special. I’ll give my opinion good or bad on how the movie is!”
Like Kapil, all fans of Indian cricket are waiting to see how director Kabir Khan has made this film. With one of the biggest actors in India Ranveer Singh playing the role of Kapil, expectations are very high.
One is hopeful that, much like the MS Dhoni documentary, this film will touch the heart of millions of fans around the world.