JEDDAH: The final day of the Red Sea International Film Festival marked a stunning Bollywood night, attended by one of the most popular Indian couples, Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone, bringing their full glam at the world premiere of “83.”
Directed by Kabir Khan, the film is inspired by the real-life event of 1983 when charismatic cricketer Kapil Dev led the national Indian cricket team to its first World Cup victory at the hallowed Lord’s Cricket Ground in London against the West Indies, regarded at the time as invincible.
A generation of Indian children was inspired to take up the game and, more broadly, to aim high in life; the anniversary is still celebrated 38 years on. Khan’s Hindi epic tells this triumphant story with fastidious attention to detail — the actors trained for months with the real cricketers they were playing to understand the sport’s nuances — and a colossal narrative sweep.
The film will make its public debut on VOX cinemas on Dec 24.
“I think it’s incredible that we are both coming here for the first time and for such a special film. This is the first time the audience is going to watch this movie. We’re a bundle of nerves,” Padukone told Arab News.
“We’re excited. We’re nervous. But I think it’s time for us to share this movie with the world.”
This film is a duet for Singh and Padukone, giving the film a great add-up as the star couple has a huge fanbase among Indian communities worldwide.
In a red carpet interview, Singh told Arab News about how thrilled he is to be in Saudi Arabia: “I’m really happy to be here. It’s my first time in Saudi Arabia. I’ve always been fascinated by the Saudi Arabian culture, and I hope to get a taste of it tonight.”
He added: “This very special film is going to be viewed by an audience for the first time in just a few minutes. I’m almost numb knowing that they’re going to have this experience in minutes from now, and it’s a very special experience because it’s a magical film. I’m so proud to be a part of it."
“83” director Khan told Arab News that the film is not only based on an actual event but on one that is considered to be the turning point in Indian sporting history.
Speaking of handling such a big idea, Khan said: “This was a huge responsibility for me as a filmmaker. I said if I mess up this film, I should just retire and go to the Himalayas because the country will never forgive me.
“I put a lot of effort in making sure that it was recreated down to the last detail,” he added. “A lot has changed. When you see the film, you will realize how the ethos has changed here today. Cricket in India is a billion-dollar industry.”
With excellent attention to detail, Khan made sure that everything in the film matched the reality of 1983. “My documentary background has given me training and discipline to approach projects with a certain amount of rigorous research.”
About the importance of the 83 victory event, Khan said, “I often said that ‘83’ is not just the story of a team. It’s actually the story of a coming of age of a nation. For India, it’s a turning point.”
Attending the premiere was former champion Indian cricketer Dev, who told Arab News that he is proud of Singh, who played the role.
“I think it’s great because he has the energy. He has the power. He is one of the top actors we have in our country,” Dev said.
“As a kid, I just want to play the game. And when you make a living out of that, you feel very proud and happy. I think cricket has given me everything. Because of cricket, I’m sitting here talking to you,” he added.