In the year 1983 when India won its first-ever World Cup in cricket, in the village of Belsand, Gopalganj district, Bihar, seven-year-old Pankaj Tripathi could not even get a chance to hear the live commentary of the historic match because there was no access to radio in his village.
Radio only came to the village in 1988. Many moons later now when the film ’83’ is set to release and Pankaj plays a pivotal part in the narrative, he shares how this film is one of the most special films in his life.
Pankaj told IANS: “When India won the first World Cup, since there was no radio in our village, we got the news later and did not really hear the live commentary of the winning match. But since 1988, when the radio came to our home, I was a regular listener on matches and was a huge admirer of Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev both.
“Being a village boy, I never thought of becoming an actor when I was young, so meeting my favourite cricketer was like out of question! Now, when the film offer came to me and as part of the workshop I met Sunil sir, Kapil sir and everyone it was emotional and was a pinch-me for me. The young boy from the village has come this far, becoming a part of a historical film, re-creating the history and reliving those moments on-screen. I am emotional about it.”
In the film, the actor plays the role of P.R. Man Singh, the manager of the winning Indian team.
While Pankaj went to meet Singh in Hyderabad as part of his preparation, he shared how it was fascinating to know the huge yet silent contribution of Singh for the team.
“Everyone knows about the players who were on the field but no one knows how this one man was constantly trying to motivate and keep everything functioning. Nowadays along with players, an army of people go for every tour that includes player-manager, physiotherapist, doctor, nutritionist and others. Back then, apart from the players, Man sir was the only man for everything! It is almost unbelievable how the whole management changed post the win of 1983. Back then, nothing was commercialised, everything was all about hard work and ‘jazbaat’, ‘bas ek jazbaat tha, desh ke liye khelke jeet ne ka’,” said Pankaj.
“Man sir is still so disciplined as a personality and really worships cricket. I went to his house and one floor of his house is a dedicated museum filled with mementos and memories collected from cricketers across the globe. You know, he is such a man of words, back then in ’83, initially when India was losing matches, a sports journalist insulted Team India and said, ‘if this team wins the World Cup I will eat my words.’ Post the winning of the match, Man sir made him write the sentence on a piece of paper and made him chew the paper! (laughs) Yes, he is quite a unique personality,” shared Pankaj.
Directed by Kabir Khan, ’83’ stars Ranveer Singh, along with Tahir Raj Bhasin, Jiiva, Saqib Saleem, Jatin Sarna, Chirag Patil, Harrdy Sandhu, Sahil Khattar, Ammy Virk and Deepika Padukone, among others.
’83’ releases in theatres on December 24.