I’m not a huge sports movie fan, but 1983 was touching and enjoyable. I also don’t know anything about cricket, but that is no hindrance in watching Nivin Pauly’s love of the game.
The first half of the film shows us Rameshan (Nivin Pauly) as a child obsessed by cricket. There’s one TV in their small Kerala village and he and his friends are forever changed by India winning its first Cricket World Cup in 1983. They sneak away from chores and skip homework and studying for tests to play cricket together.
Nivin hits a girl in the head with an errant cricket ball, and has a wonderful childhood romance. But she’s good in school and moves on to university, while he is left behind in the village working for his father. He marries another girl in an arranged marriage, and horrors, she doesn’t even recognize a picture of Sachin!
In the second half, Nivin still plays club cricket with his old pals, and sees the glimmer of talent in his son. To the disgust of Nivin’s father, who still thinks cricket is a waste of time, Nivin seeks out coaching for his son. They take a bus hours away every weekend to the next big town to try for a spot in a sports school.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen Nivin Pauly play a father, and that was some of my favorite parts of the film. I also liked his relationship with his wife. She supports him and stands up for him with his parents. They don’t have a grand passion, but they work together as a couple.
This movie has the leisurely pace of Malayalam films. Maybe a little too leisurely at times. It’s not a surprise that this is the debut feature of the director, fashion photographer Abrid Shine. But it’s still an enjoyable watch, and Nivin Pauly, as usual is great. 1983 is beautifully shot, and even though I’m a no-nothing with cricket, I could follow the exciting parts of the cricket games. It wasn’t confusing to me as it sometimes is. Sometimes cricket games are filmed in Indian films expecting you to know what is happening, but here I could tell Nivin was good and the way the games were shot highlighted that.
Three and a half stars out of five. 1983 is available for rental on Amazon Video.