Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone starrer 83 opened to largely positive reviews from film critics as well as audiences. Directed by Kabir Khan, the film is an ode to the 1983 Cricket World Cup win for the Indian cricket team at Lord’s. Ranveer Singh played the former Indian cricket captain Kapil Dev while real-life wife Deepika essayed the role of his on-screen wife, Romi Bhatia.
However, there was a buzz that Arjun Kapoor was the first choice to play Kapil Dev in the film. Now, in an interview with News18, casting director Mukesh Chhabra has clarified that Kabir Khan always only had Ranveer on his mind for Kapil Dev’s role.
What has been your biggest challenge to cast so many actors for an iconic story like 83?
The biggest challenge was how casting had to be done from across the country so that it all comes together as one iconic team.
Has casting for a multi-starrer become challenging over the years in general, considering now scripts are character-driven and more than just a hero or heroine?
Each project has its own challenges and my team and I love to take up such challenging projects and break the stereotype.
Casting of Harrdy Sandhu as Madan Lal and Ammy Virk as Balvinder Sandhu was loved by the audiences. How did you zero in on these two artistes?
The idea behind casting Harrdy Sandhu as Madan Lal and Ammy Virk as Balvinder Sandhu was made consciously as the main focus for us while casting was not to lose ethnicity in terms of language and culture.
The other thing that the audiences liked about 83’s casting was how you stayed true to the ethnicity of most of the players by casting actors from their particular states. Whether it’s Harrdy, Ammy from Punjab, or Jiiva from Tamil Nadu. Was that a conscious choice?
Yes, it was a conscious choice to go for mixed casting, so as to make it look more authentic and closer to the actual team.
Tell us something about how you finalised Jiiva for the role of Srikkanth. He looked apt for the role.
Jiiva’s casting was an interesting one since they wanted an actor who didn’t know the Hindi language properly yet deliver a stellar performance with a touch of humour. Because if you look at Srikkant Sir, his sense of humour is authentic, it’s not something made up.
Was there any other actor that you had in mind for 83 who couldn’t be a part of the film?
No, I couldn’t think of any other actors who could have pulled off the role than this brilliant cast.
Were Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone always the first choices to play Kapil Dev and Romi Dev?
Ranveer had always been Kabir Khan’s first choice to play Kapil Dev. Deepika came on board later when as a team we were deciding whom to cast to play Romi Dev’s character as she played a significant role in Kapil Dev’s life during the World Cup. And that’s when it struck us, who better than Deepika?
Your first directorial Dil Bechara received immense love and appreciation from all quarters. Do you feel more responsibility on your shoulder about deciding on your sophomore project as a director because there will be more expectations?
Of course, there’s always an added pressure and I feel more responsible after my directorial debut with Dil Bechara. The amount of love and appreciation I have received for Dil Bechara will always be special to me and I hope to make everyone happy and proud with my second film as well.