One of the most notable Indian filmmakers of contemporary times, Kabir Khan is known for his popular projects like Ek Tha Tiger, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, and Phantom. His latest film, 83, is a dose of nostalgia for millions of Indians, and a chance for countless others to experience the emotions that flowed through the country when Team India lifted its first Cricket World Cup. We hosted Kabir for a fun interaction for our special series, NewsX India A-List. Below are the excerpts from the interview:
We first asked Kabir about the responses the film has received from the viewers. “The euphoric response, and the love and the appreciation are so humbling. Initially, when we did the media screening, the kind of unanimous, fantastic reviews that started coming out, that elated all of us,” said the filmmaker. Continuing his response, Khan said, “With 83, we are getting emotions catharsis. We are getting messages that run into two-two pages. We are getting people saying it’s a life-altering moment.”
He further said, “People are crying in the theatres. They are sending us videos from theatres that look like stadiums – people are waving flags, they’re yelling, they are screaming, they’re whistling.” Kabir described the audience response to the film as “really overwhelming.”
Talking about the most special reactions he received for the film, Kabir stated, “There’s one that stuck with me and made me really emotional, from a friend of mine.” Kabir quoted his friend as saying, “I was one of those kids who hated cricket. I hated it when people in my family switched on the television and would end up watching cricket, and I would get really upset and I would cry and I would walk away from there.” According to Kabir, his friend after watching the movie said, “If this is the energy that cricket gets in you, then have I missed out on a large part of my life.” Kabir also told us that the strongest responses he has received are from people who are not traditionally perceived as cricket enthusiasts, including women.
Kabir informed us that the original Indian squad of the 1983 World Cup were adamant about watching the film together and that they watched the film two days after the theatrical release. “I think it was an unbelievable, emotional moment for me,” said Kabir while expressing the joy he felt when the cricketers watched the film for the first time.
Our next question to the director was about the origin of the idea that led to the making of 83, to which he said, “I must mention one of our producers, Vishnu Induri, here. Vishnu is the first person to have actually, nine years ago, approached Kapil sir.”
Kabir revealed that Kapil Dev initially had reservations about the film and that much persuasion was needed to convince the legendary Indian captain. Kabir said, “But Vishnu didn’t relent. He just went on and on with Kapil sir and, finally, Kapil sir put it on their WhatsApp group where all the ’83 members are there and that’s how the process started.”
Speaking further about the idea behind the film, Khan said, “I, sometimes, wonder why nobody made it before me. It’s an iconic story sitting there in front of us for the last 38 years.” He further said, “10 years, 20 years, 30 years down the line when people will speak about my filmography, 83 will be one of the crowning glories of my filmography.”