Cricket is our religion and Sachin is our God. No diehard cricket fan in India would disagree with the above line. Such is the passion for cricket in this nation and '1983' is an ode to this game of glorious uncertainties. If any game can be compared with life it has to be Cricket, given its propensity for unrelenting drama. The gentleman's game has captured the imagination of generations and if there is a watershed year in the evolution of this game in India it is 1983, the year in which the ultimate underdogs the devils of Kapil Dev humbled the seemingly invincible Carribeans to win the World cup. That victory was not just a mere triumph in a sports event at the world level, but it inspired a generation to many great deeds.
The premise of Abrid Shine's '1983' is firmly rooted in this iconic title triumph and its frenzied aftermath. Cricket which was played in every nook and corner of this mighty nation including the idyllic villages in Kerala became an obsession for youth after this remarkable year marked by dizzy success. Rameshan (Nivin Pauly) is a quintessential rustic bloke who is a local hero who can wield his bat like a magic wand. Interspersed with delectable humour and cricket the film is as exciting as a T 20 cricket match to begin with.The team spirit and camaraderie of Rameshan and his pals Babukuttan (Sanju), Pappan (Saiju Kurup),Mantle Johny (Neeraj Madhav) etc look so realistic that it seems to be gleaned from a setting in the 80 s. Village cricket has loads of nostalgia associated with it, and anyone who has played cricket at any level would attest to it. Picturesque grounds with trees and shrubs inside and with homes with glass window panes are part of the 80 s cricketing landscape.
A hero in the cricket field in our hinterlands would invariably be a zero at his home, especially during those times. Elders detest their children taking a keen interest to this game as they deem it as a road block to their wards' career advancement. Rameshan's father Gopi Ashan(Joy Mathew) a mechanic, is also no different. But Rameshan cares two hoots about all this as cricket is his first love. Even his romance with his beautiful classmate Manjula(Nikki) becomes akin to an abandoned cricket match thanks to his fidelity to cricket. The cricketer in Rameshan never reaches the exalted heights he was capable of but this ardent cricket lover moves on in life and settles down into a happy married life with Susheela (Srinda). Paradoxically Susheela's knowledge of cricket is so paltry that she is not even aware about Sachin Tendulkar.
It is a tale of coming of age, of generations, of the inexhaustible human spirit embellished with liberal dose of nostalgia.What a potent combination can cricket and nostalgia be. The manner in which Rameshan yearns to pass the baton of his cricketing prowess to his young son speaks about his resolve to keep the ember of passion for the game burning. Vijay Menon the coach that Anoop Menon plays is much more than a cricket coach. He has an outlook on life and the beautiful nuggets of wisdom about life that the movie throws at you, never look didactic. Some scenes are as mesmerizing to watch as a Sachin straight drive or a Dravid cover drive. Enduring love affairs can be hugely rewarding. Rameshan and his friends love for the game is unadulterated. They dont see life as separate from game. The rhythm of a One day international and the drama of a test match cricket becomes apparent as the tale nudges to a finale which is not nail biting. It is more like watching a chase of your favoured team cantering home with ease. 1983 is all about soaking in the moments rather than the end result.
Nivin Pauly carries his bat through the match to use a cricket terminology. He is completely at ease negotiating the role with the felicity of a free flowing batsman with all the shots in his repertoire. Each and every co star of his has given a fair account of themselves. Nikki and Srinda as the women in the protagonist's life at different stages are very good. Joy Mathew is good while Anoop Menon oozes conviction in his role as a coach of erudition.
Writing is mostly good and capable direction that doesnt betray the presence of a novice stands the movie in good stead.The melodious songs of Gopi Sundar merge seamlessly with the life like frames of Pradeesh Varma.Flaws are there here and there, especially the slackening pace in the latter half just like the middle overs of a One day international.But ultimately who cares about dropped catches and full tosses that were left unhit if the game is won eventually. '1983' touches many sweet spots in our mind. Well played.