How Ranveer Singh transformed into Kapil Dev for Kabir Khan’s 83: ‘His bowling left us scratching our heads,’ says coach

When in July this year, the first look of Ranveer Singh from 83 (as former cricketer Kapil Dev) was unveiled, fans couldn’t help but marvel at the striking similarity. As Simmba, Ranveer was seen in a bulkier avatar and in Gully Boy, he was lean guy from Dharavi’s slums. So how did the change happen?

In a recent interview with Mumbai Mirror, Rajiv Mehra, a consultant and assistant to former cricketer Balwinder Sandhu, who coached Kabir Khan’s team, shared details. Not only did the group of actors have to hone their cricketing skills, they also had to grasp the nuances of their respective characters.

Revealing that the training sessions began in August last year, he said: “Everyone was aware about their characters but getting the technique right was our responsibility. We had to train them to become their characters physically.”

Speaking about training Ranveer, Rajiv said that the actor had average batting skills. “But his bowling left us scratching our heads.” He added that Ranveer joined the team for training only in October last year. Despite such serious shortcomings, Ranveer was absolutely dedicated to get his act right. “Ranveer, with the boys, would be at the ground from 8 am till noon, continuing to practice even after others had left.”

Ranveer weighed 86 kgs at the time of joining 83’s team. “83 demanded him to be around 75 kgs. So, in the second half of the day, he’d train with me at the gym, ending with swimming, for four months.” Ranveer also had discomfort in his knee which made running fast a problem. To deal with that, the fitness team made a detail rehab plan for him.

Not just Ranveer, the coaching team had to make individual training plans for each actor in the film, based on their grasping power and skills. Other than Ranveer, the reel squad includes actors Ammy Virk, Jiiva, Sahil Khatter, Chirag Patil, Adinath Kothare, Dhairya Karwa, Dinker Sharma, Jatin Sarna, Nishant Dahiya and R Badree. “The biggest challenge was to get them to think like cricketers. After that, we had to tone their bodies to look like that of sportsmen, for which we taught them sprinting techniques and gave body language training. After that came basic batting and bowling lessons. It was like teaching kids, as we had to start from the basics.”

Not only physical skills, training was imparted to the team over issues such as bonding as a team. The entire team left for Dharamshala to train in a real stadium. Speaking about it, Rajiv revealed, “Kabir sir wanted to check camera angles and different kinds of shots, so there were mock shoots as well. We practised twice a day, with mornings reserved for skill development and evenings for strength-training.”

After nearly a year-long training, by the time the actors left for London for the film’s shoot, they had transformed into professionals in the game. “If you do screen mirroring, things will look exactly like the 1983 World Cup and that’s the USP of this film.”

On Monday, the team celebrated film’s wrap party. Present at the function were Ranveer, Deepika Padukone, Jiiva apart from Kabir and his wife Mini Mathur.


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