If good acting could guarantee a good movie, Ranveer Singh would never have to fear delivering a bad one.
That's not the case, though, which is a relief. This would make things very simple for the movie-makers. Among other things, this lack of surety leads to experimentation, which is good for cinema.
Anyway, I digress. Ranveer!
There are very few actors from the current generation who have hit the mark as often, and with as much precision as him. And his performance in 83 is a testament to that.
Playing Kapil Dev of 1983 could not have been easy, because it goes beyond capturing his dialect and body language. The task at hand is much bigger, it is to capture the inexplicable stubbornness which separates the handful of dreamers among us, from the rest.
How do you capture 'inexplicable stubbornness'? Possibly by dreaming.
Ranveer gets into the skin of Kapil Dev, to the point that in certain scenes, it's unbelievable. Kapil Dev has a way of talking that always looks fake when copied by others, no matter how well they copy.
The way he enunciates, one's mind automatically develops an image of his face, and when that image doesn't resemble the one in front of their eyes, it all falls apart.
But Ranveer makes it work, somehow, careful about not overdoing things.
In a certain press conference scene, he imitates Kapil so well, it's almost uncanny, but there are also scenes where he focuses on getting the essence of the cricketer right, instead of plainly imitating him.
So no, if you are entering the theater thinking you will forget that it's Ranveer on the screen, that's not going to happen.
But you can rest assured that when you leave, you will feel like you know Kapil personally. That was probably what Ranveer was aiming for, and he certainly delivers on that.
Another difficulty of acting in 83, a sports movie, would have been...the sport. You can't mess up that part because people will catch it in an instant. The shots, the flick of the bat, the running - everything has to be not just right but also done in the manner the player you are portraying, did.
Ranveer excels in that department.
Yes, yes, he had the option of redoing things, but I have always thought of this to be an unfair argument that dismisses effort. Everyone has the option of redoing things during a shoot, how many times are they flawless?
Ranveer looks like a professional cricketer, that is the part where you can expect to forget he is an actor. He looks like India's cricket captain, who knows what all is at stake. He looks like someone who was crazy enough to think India could pull off a World Cup win in 1983.
Considering all of this, it's a shame that 83 does not become the sum of its parts. The movie can't make up its mind about whether it's a tribute or a story, and hence, is unable to become either.
Director Kabir Khan is extremely straightforward in his approach, not giving the subject adequate gentleness. It feels like an essay written to get an A+, not an essay written for the joy of writing essays.
The effort is completely there and the entire cast and crew should feel proud of themselves for that, but something in the movie remains missing.
So, our search for a great modern-day cricket movie continues, but we have found our captain, haven't we?