India is considered as the cricket obsessed nation with massive fan following from and around the world. People actively participate in discussions when a cricket match is getting discussed or, a player’s performance is getting analyzed. Often noticed, these discussions sometime involve an emotionality which either lead to heated arguments or else, work as peace builder among people. Therefore, it is no doubt that cricket as a sport define the cultural imagination of our nation to a very large extent. And so does the players and stars of the sport.
This entire phenomenon of sportsman becoming a star is very familiar to the film stars where the actors, loved immensely by the public, lead a dual life keeping up with their public persona and their private self. The commonality between sportsman and film actor is that both of them lead a dual life – public and private. And with the introduction of new technologies, this is evident even more with the constant social media presence. In short, cinema and sport, especially cricket, plays very important role in shaping the personality of our society. In a way, both cinema and cricket has shared almost a symbiotic relationship with each other. Cinema has adopted the sport of cricket as a medium of storytelling in a lot of films and sometimes, the cricket stars have themselves entered into the medium of cinema either as their own selves or as a character in front of the camera. As the emotions are on the rise with India almost inching towards the big win this world cup, let us look back at the original squad of the 1983 World Cup and see how some of the members of the squad went on to appear in different audio-visual medium like, films, television, advertisements etc.
Indian team lifting the Cricket World Cup on 25th June 1983 at Lord’s, England is considered a watershed moment and is etched as one of the most important dates in the history of our nation and the Indian cricket. The team which was not even the favorites before the beginning of the world cup ended up defeating the two times champion team, West Indies. This win of the 1983 World Cup made the entire squad superstars overnight. To this day, the members of the team – Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, Sandeep Patil, Mohinder Amarnath, Kirti Azad, Roger Binny, Syed Kirmani, Balwinder Sandhu, K Srikkanth, Ravi Shastri, Sunil Valson, Yashpal Sharma, and Madan Lal are considered the heroes of the nation for bringing the cup home for the very first time.
However, post the world cup win, few players became popular figure not only because of the cricket but their choice of appearing in films and television. Vijay Singh directorial Kabhie Ajnabi The (1985) starred Sandeep Patil, right arm medium fast bowler, as the protagonist while Syed Kirmani, batsman and wicketkeeper, appeared in a cameo role as the villain. The film tells the story of Sandeep, a key member of the Indian cricket team who have won the world cup and is returning back to his home. The initial 10 minutes of the film has the actual footage of all the players greeting the sea of people on roads and taking rounds in the stadium and greeting fans. Sandeep is in love with Asha, played by Poonam Dhillon, however, Asha’s father is against their relationship. A melodrama involving a love triangle between Sandeep Patil, Poonam Dhillon and Debashree Roy. Alongside Syed Kirmani, the film also featured Sachin Tendulkar in a cameo role.
Sunil Gavaskar after scoring a total of 774 runs in his debut test series became a sensation in the 70s. He went on to act in a Marathi film Savli Premachi (1980) where he is seen singing, dancing and screaming ‘I love you.’ The film was not a major hit but he mentioned about his involvement with the film in a cricket match commentary after which fans gathered the details of the film and the song became a viral sensation on social media platforms. Gavaskar also did a guest appearance in Kawal Sharma’s comedy film Malamaal (1988) which starred Naseeruddin Shah and Satish Shah in lead roles.
Sunil Gavaskar in Savli Premachi
Credits - https://www.youtube.com/@pavanjha/featured
Kapil Dev, the winning captain of the squad, shared in an interview that he had trouble in communicating in English language during post-match presentations because English was not his first language. He, however, learned and mastered the language in due course of time and became an efficient communicator. After the 83 win, Kapil Dev got lots of opportunity for product and brand endorsement and one of the most popular brands that he endorsed was Rapdiex English speaking course, a self-study book for the readers. He admitted while endorsing that he benefitted a lot from this book and therefore, the sales of the book reached an all-time high post his involvement. Apart from this, he also acted in commercials for Palmolive shaving cream, Boost chocolate drink, BSA cycles and many other. He also shared screen with master blaster Sachin Tendulkar in one of the commercials for Boost.
Apart from Kapil, Ravi Shastri also entered the world of advertisement. He appeared alongside Gavaskar and Patil in a television commercial for Thums Up. However, in the contemporary times, Ravi Shastri has become a phenomenon in the social media for his unapologetic performance in the form of cricket presenter, commentator, and an expert. The team at CRED capitalized on this persona of Shastri effectively and created advertisements that went to become the talk of the town for a long while.
Kirti Azad, right hand batter and off-spinner, featured in Kirket (2019) as the protagonist. The film depicts the state of Bihar cricket board and the many obstacles Azad had to face to change the future of the cricket board for the better.
In 2021, Kabir Khan made 83 which recreated the historic tournament on the screen with much precision and accuracy. It featured the entire team played by different actors and sometime the original team members also appeared in different roles. The most interesting trivia about the film is that this film is a perfect example for the confluence of two distinct worlds coming together. Mohinder Amarnath appears in the film as he played the role of his own father, Lala Amarnath. Another similar incidence is of Chirag Patil, son of Sandeep Patil, who played the role of his father in the film.
Films have always latched on to the sport of cricket to create classic stories in the form of Lagaan (2001), MS Dhoni: The Untold Story (2016), Azhar (2016), 83 (2021) and many others whereas cricketers are always invited to appear in the films as a guest to add an extra layer of meaning to the film. Overall, it can be said that there were players from the squad of 83 who went on to diversify themselves in different directions and brought different worlds and fields together to produce meaningful and entertaining content and services.