Dubai Diaries: Why 1983 was a landmark year

There was something about 1983 that had turned the football fanatic into a cricket fan.


Anamika Chatterjee

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Published: Tue 28 Dec 2021, 1:45 PM

For most of us who were born after, the year 1983 was a fantasy we all wished we live through. I had never known anyone in my family to have special affinity towards sports, except my father who’d obsess over football. But there was something about 1983 that had turned the football fanatic into a cricket fan.

He hung a poster of Kapil Dev lifting the iconic World Cup trophy in his room, and narrate stories on how David took on Goliath that summer in 1983. As I grew up, I suspected that 1983 had changed something more fundamental among that generation of Indians. They may or may not have watched the game.

They may or may not even have known the names of each player that constituted the Dream Team, but were only too keen to pass on this story to the generation that followed. I often wondered why. What exactly did this victory change? Cricket became a metaphor; 1983 encouraged us to dream.

Thirty eight years after India brought home its first ever World Cup, a Bollywood film revisits that story. Its release in the theatres across the UAE coincided with that another iconic film franchise that inspires nostalgia — The Matrix: Resurrections. But the throwback of 1983 feels something else. To be honest, prior to its release, I was among those who wondered what can be said about 1983 that hasn’t been said before.

What emotions can it stir that we have already not felt before? Many even argued that a fiction based on 1983 would always fall short because that moment alone gave birth to so many other moments that it could possibly not capture the essence of the victory holistically. Sometimes, however, a recap does far more for us to understand why a memory remains etched in our minds in the first place. 83, the film, does just that.

I was born two years after the momentous occasion. Which means the versions of 1983 that I have inherited are little nuggets of information and personalised accounts of family members on what they were up to when the Indian team won the finals against West Indies. The film, peppered with real-life footage and photographs of the Indian team’s journey to the finals, actually does a lot more to jog our memory.

It manages to make even those who are uninterested curious about the mental and physical preparations and the challenges that the team had to undergo at a time when they were already deemed underdogs. It’s not as though these bits and pieces of information aren’t available in public domain, but their impact is felt most when they are interspersed with powerful storytelling. It also makes an important point about achievement. When you are the underdog, smaller victories can feel enormous.

It serves its purpose because others are content, and you feel you have ticked the box. But achievements are also born out of dissatisfaction, the refusal to accept that the best you have done is really the most you can achieve. To those who witnessed the monumental occasion, 83 will take them down memory lane. To a generation that has only heard of it, it will be a primer to the moment that only intensified our love for the Gentleman’s Game.

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