Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Kapil Dev: At First I Didn’t Want The 83 Film Made

Posted on 4 December 2020 by Viraj Bhatia
Elaine Gill painting: India vs Zimbabwe 1983 World Cup
Elaine Gill painting: India vs Zimbabwe 1983 World Cup


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 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 was pushed back to January 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo Credit: Tunbridge Wells Cricket Club
Photo Credit: Tunbridge Wells Cricket Club

Surprisingly, when Kapil 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.”

Embed from Getty Images

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.

Ranveer Singh and Kapil Dev at Tunbridge Wells
Ranveer Singh and Kapil Dev at Tunbridge Wells
Credit: Tunbridge Wells Cricket Club

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.