Madan Lal unspools his memories of Kapil's historic 175 n.o.

Madan Lal, who was a member of the 1983 World Cup-winning team and took three crucials wickets in the final, on Saturday showered praise on director Kabir Khan for "doing justice" to each character in '83', and recounted the day when he got to see Kapil Dev's game-changing unbeaten 175 at Tunbridge Wells from the non-striker's end.

Talking about Harrdy Sandhu, the Punjabi actor-singer who plays him in '83', Madan Lal said he was brilliant in the movie."The movie is fantastic. Kabir Khan did a brilliant job. Every character in the movie was of equal importance. It was like reliving the moment. Everything shown in it was actually what happened," Madan Lal said.He told IANS: "Kapil Dev's 175 was also exactly as portrayed. I know it because I was on the non-striker's end when I saw the 'Haryana Hurricane' in action at Tunbridge Wells."Playing against Zimbabwe, the legendary Indian all-rounder walked in to bat when India was reeling at 17 for 5, with Sunil Gavaskar and Kris Srikkanth both scoring ducks. Kapil smashed 175 off just 138 balls with six sixes and 16 fours -- his top score in ODIs as India scored 266/8."The innings did not get recorded, but I can assure you that whatever is shown in the movie is exactly as it happened," said the all-rounder-turned-cricket coach and media analyst, who scored 17 runs off 39 balls and scalped three wickets that day.Madan Lal became the toast of India for his three-wicket haul in the final of the 1983 World Cup against the then mighty West Indies. He, in fact, had a brilliant outing in 1983, as he notched up 17 wickets in eight matches.But he saved his best for the final, where he accounted for the wickets of Desmond Haynes, Vivian Richards and Larry Gomes. The dismissal of the dangerous Richards proved to be the turning point in India's road to victory.

Kabir Khan’s 83 seems to have pressed all the right buttons. Movie critics and cricket lovers alike are hailing the film as a remarkable recreation of India’s historic World Cup win of 1983. In a freewheeling chat, Khan talks about recreating the social and political milieu of that time, the challenges of casting the actors and his research for the film. Excerpts

At the end of the day, it is a film that we were really excited to make because it is a fabulous, true and iconic story. So, it was a great responsibility to recreate that event, along with the physical transformation of the actors or the attempt to recreate the matches and the gear that was used

Q\ Expectations are very high from this film. Did you feel the pressure while making it?

A\ I often say that this is a film that has been blessed by the gods of cricket, because while we were shooting it, we had legends like Clive Lloyd, Gordon Greenidge, Sunil Gavaskar, Gundappa Viswanath and Jimmy Amarnath just strolling about on our sets and watching the shoot. This is the story of not only a team, but also the coming of age of a country. It is one of our first true achievements on the international stage post-independence.

Q\ Tell us about the rollercoaster of emotions that you went through.

AA\ In my films, I always try to put the social and political layers behind the human story. This is the story of not only a team, but also the coming of age of a country. It is one of our first true achievements on the international stage post-independence. There is a dialogue in which [P.R.] Man Singh says: ‘Thirty-five years ago we had won Independence, but we still have to win respect, captain’. The early 1980s were a tumultuous period. In England, there was a lot of racism at the time and the team had to face it, if not overtly, then in terms of the attitude. Like how every London newspaper wrote that India should not even be invited to the World Cup, because they bring the level of cricket down.

Q\ You also gave special focus to the social and political milieu of that time.

A\ I knew it would take a long time to research and write it. Because, unfortunately in India, we do not archive material very well. Fortunately, the Lord’s archives were open to us, and we managed to get a lot of material from them. I would be in London almost every month for research. And then tracking down people who had been in the stadiums during the matches also took time. We had a mountain of anecdotes which took time to be made into a cohesive screenplay. And after the film was ready, the pandemic happened

Q\ This film’s release kept getting postponed.

A\ We spent almost a year-and-a-half on the casting. We auditioned more than 2,000 actors for the roles of the original players of the 1983 team. Not only did they have to be actors, but they also had to have good cricketing skills. So, we had a pitch where they would come and show off their sporting abilities. Only if found worthy would they then go on to the acting audition.

Q\ How did you finalise the cast? Each and every one looks the part.

A\ Yes. I would not want to change anything. It has gone through several layers of checks. Everything about cricket has been passed by the legends themselves. There is no doubt that we live in a country where everybody is a cricket guru. They can say that Hardy is not bowling like Madan Lal, but I will not be bothered by that, because Madan Lal himself has approved Hardy’s bowling. Kapil Dev himself has said that Ranveer is bowling exactly like him. So, when I have that gratification, I don’t think I am going to be bothered by some self-styled guru pointing out the flaws.

Q\ Has it come out exactly the way you envisioned it? Is 83 a perfectly recreated film?