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The biopic was titled ‘Kapil Dev – The True Story’

New Delhi, 20 April 2022 (UTN). Watching 83 recently brought back a series of nostalgic moments shared through a few of the one on one interactions with  Kapil Dev Nikhanj, one of the greatest all rounders of the cricketing universe from India at his house in Sunder Nagar, in his office at Babbar Road, at Noida’s Radisson and Sanjeev Kapoor’sYellow Chilli in Noida and most importantly at Hotel Taj Palace where he had himself hosted a massive press conference to announce the making of a biopic on his life and times first time in 2001.

The biopic then planned to be titled as ‘Kapil Dev – The True Story’ was being penned by Anurag Kashyap, who was already well known for the stories & scripts of hit movies like Satya and Shool and was being contemplated to be produced by Shailendra – another friend of Kapil himself.

For Kapil Dev whose image had unfortunately been attempted to be hugely defamed by a sudden charge like a bolt from the blue, dragging his name in the unsavoury match fixing controversy – more than being just a biopic it was then the only option for him to place all the facts before the common man and most importantly his die hard cricket fans, who would have never imagined even an iota of a truth in all of this slander and before almost an entire media hounding him all instantaneously by offering the wild accusations a much higher prominence than required at a prima facie stage.

It is another matter that the production of this 2.5 hour biopic pegged within a budget of just Rs 5 crores could never see the light of the day primarily because of the huge funding constraints to even organize this amount and that a great achiever like Kapil too had to wait for nearly two decades for this much awaited tribute to his contribution to world of cricket as much as peace and unity of Indians instantly bonded by the success of his team at the highest levels.

It is strange that the idea-tion could not see the light of the day even as an eight part television serial also contemplated at much lower budgets for obviously even a great legend like Kapil himself despite all his goodwill and heights of network & success could not organize this basic financial resource for restoring his lost reputation in good time.

It is heartening that a united team of Deepika Padukone, Kabir Khan, Vishnu Vardhan Induri, Sajia Nadiadwalla, Reliance Entertainment & Anurag Kashyap’s former production house Phantom Films has finally taken this plunge together and have brought out this script live though in a newer version christened as 83, that has also rightly highlighted the contribution of all other members of this great winning squad in the series of matches that went beyond the victory against Zimbabve on Kapil’s single handed effort and has thus also ensured reaching out to a much wider audience across the country, another big challenge in the mind of the earlier team of 2001, perhaps also more for the trailing false narratives behind.

For Kapil Paaji – the ever positive man himself as so perfectly projected in this movie too, he has stuck to his call for keeping all the villains out of this movie; whom one of our greatest spin wizards and former Captain Bishan Singh Bedi had there and then described as pedestrian critics of our great all rounder, as much as ignoring all the idiots remains the best remedy for all true karma-Yogis in life always!

During my meeting with Paaji at Taj in 2001, I had jokingly asked Kapil Dev as to who was going to be his heroine for this biopic and he had clearly stated the biopic would not have any heroine at all but the presence of Deepika Padukone in a very brief role as his loving life long companion, Romi Bhatia has definitely added the much desired glamour even in such a docu-drama.

Ranveer Singh as Kapil Dev has done a great job with Tahir Raj Bhasin, Saqib Saleem, Jiiva, Ammy Virk, Harrdy Sandhu, Pankaj Tripathi, Jatin Sarna, Chirag Patil, Sahil Khattar, Adinath Kothare, Dinker Sharma, Nishant Dhaiya, Dhairya Karwa and R Badree striking a close resemblance to the other great members of the winning squad in Sunil Gavaskar, Mohinder Amarnath, Krishnamachari Srikanth, Balwinder Sandhu, Madan Lal and others respectively.

The delay in realization of this movie after over two decades since first thought for someone among the greatest needs to be viewed as seriously for the long drawn losses sometimes such media trials inflict in the careers of successful leaders in various disciplines just as sometimes inordinately delayed judicial trials,  misguided investigations or governmental responses too happen to do.

The frequent meetings or invites from Kapil Paaji had also made me a household name in his network including among others most of his personal staff from Pinkie Dhar, Jyoti, Vijai, Bahadur, Luxmi, Sooraj, Hemant, Sangram, Maahi and his chauffeur Babu Ram who started recognizing me as one in his family members though post 2001, our individual commitments thereafter kept us busy in our own career pursuits and may be Paaji reads this recount and recalls that all and drives in, in to my place in his DL 2C 9494 (fitness cleared being over 15 years old in NCR now!)- for at least another Coffee with me..! And create a few more nostalgic moments of the next meet ups and for my Punjabi flavoured Rapidex English conversations now!

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