Cast: Gurfateh Pirzada, Anjali Sivaraman, Ayesha Kanga, Chayan Chopra, Chintan Rachchh, Cwaayal Singh, Madhyama Segal, Moses Koul, Naina Bhan, Piyush Khati, Zeyn Shaw, and ensemble.
Creator: Ashim Ahluwalia
Director: Ashim Ahluwalia, Gul Dharmani & Kabir Mehta.
Streaming On: Netflix.
Language: Hindi (with subtitles).
Runtime: 8 Episodes Around 60 Minutes Each.
Class Review : What’s It About:
Three high school teenagers are shifted to a top-class exclusive institute as a PR technique after their old school is burnt in a massive fire. The rich over smart kids of the new school take up bullying the three freshers as a job. Begins the battle of the haves and the have-nots in this hauntingly dark show.
Class Review : What Works:
Class divide, caste discrimination, and exploitation of the have-nots, are three of the most used plot points ever since the OTT revolution bloomed in India. Multiple filmmakers have brought out the heinous nature of it and tried to bring a real reflection of it all (Paatal Lok, Sacred Games, and more). Ashim Ahluwalia with his campy adaptation of the Spanish drama Elite, creates a world so marinated and obsessed with its eccentricity that when outsiders enter their shallow decorated rooms, they know nothing but to make their lives hell.
In Class, which is still being referred to as an adaption of a hit Spanish show, Ahluwalia not just remakes the story of the original blindly into Hindi, but rather only borrows the blueprint. If you scratch the surface and try to read between the lines, the show is an in-depth exploration of an ecosystem that houses two different zone but favours only one blended in the Indian milleau. The other has to leave on the leftovers of the ones who have it all and not complain or even try to enter their area.
So when three teenagers from a neighboring slum enter the school of elite kids belonging to families of socialites, builders, and high-profile celebrities, they are welcomed with top-order resistance. Even the three breathing is an attack for the rich kids who are obnoxious and so distanced from the reality that you cannot even relate with them, but they think their bubbles are the ultimate reality.
Ashim Ahluwalia with his team of writers (with no single woman involved) shaped Class as a critique of the people who are blinded by their wealth and doomed by their doings. They address the caste divide without hiding behind any wall. When a boy name Dheeraj ‘Valmiki’ introduces himself, a police officer instantly calls him a lower caste and says ‘dikhta to nahi hain’. A sudden reminder that conditioning doesn’t even allow many minds to think that someone from the have-nots can look good as per the ‘elite standards’. Likewise, a Muslim girl Saba goes to school wearing a hijab on the first day, and she hides that she belongs to Kashmir. She is advised not to cover her head by the principal.
Ashim never really lets his ideology overpower the story he wants to tell. He cleverly makes Dheeraj, played by Piyush Khati our eyes in this world. He enters the school on a cycle while the rich speed in their fancy cars. The real drama begins when the world of the haves and the have-nots blends and the boundaries are blurred. Everyone just ends up becoming a monster in their capacities, there is grey in each person and when time is tough it comes out. Bizarre and wild decisions are taken, a life is lost and you see the level at which the eccentricity can go.
Amid all of this, Ashim also lets love bloom most uniquely. He doesn’t let the presence of a very unconventional love story work as a ray of light in the darkness. He takes the darkness to it. A Muslim boy (Chintan) who peddles drugs to earn big money and run away from his now condition falls in love with a rich schoolboy (Chayan) who is not just closeted but even buried under peer pressure. There is poetry in how they are shown together. Their love is doomed but that doesn’t stop them from stealing the moments they can. Every time it is them on screen the show floats and you have to root for them. A big chunk of credit also goes to Tubby’s original score and Aditya N & Nayantara Bhatkal’s beautiful songs.
Class includes a whole lot of intricate layers where it tries to show youth revolting and asking for their rights in society. The shallowness of the people with power. But Top of it all Ashim Ahluwalia tries to show how funny they actually are but endorse such evil intentions. He almost makes a spoof about the rich but doesn’t minus their evil while doing so.
Class Review : Star Performance:
Class is blessed to have got one of the best casting coupes in recent times. Netflix and the entire team of producers should be celebrated just for banking on 11 new faces with no involvement of a star face to even lift up the value. And kudos to the cast for understanding the opportunity at hand and putting their best foot forward.
Anjali Sivaraman is a revelation in the show. For a character that blends the rich into the have-nots initially, she has a very complex character at hand. The actor is so effortless in playing a part so complex that you nowhere see even a tiny bit of fear. Followed by the dreamy Chintan Rachchh playing Faruq, who manages to become almost a mystery in the show. For the most part of it, he enters Dhruv’s life like a ghost he always desired. The fact that he is a poet in real life brings a whole lot of melancholy to his presence in the show and even elevates Chayan Chopra’s performance who even impressive standalone.
Talking of impressive performance, Piyush Khati as Dheeraj is such a surprisingly good performance. He is technically us, the audience, to this circus. He has to scale the journey from being confused to later understanding this game and also making his hands dirty with its muck. The actor can pull off some of the most intense scenes. The intensity is also in Ayesha Kanga’s performance. Especially in a scene when Yashika played by her is crying but doesn’t let her makeup get ruined. She opens her phone and tries to click selfies so her tears could stop and she could create a facade, such a brilliant scene.
Zeyn Shaw as Veer gets a complex part to play and there is a range in how he performs. Supported strongly by Madhyama Segal’s Saba, together they create a dynamic so interesting that I am excited to where they go if there is a season 2. In a solo space, Madhyama does a fabulous job at playing a part that needs her to be restricted and never burst really.
Moses Kaul, Naina Bhan, and Cwaayal Singh create the most bizarre dynamic in this show and they are so convincing and good at it and that you even surrender to it. Gurfateh Pirzada joins them all and is growing so much as an actor. He is the voice of the marginalised and even goes the wrong way to give them justice.
Class Review : What Doesn’t Work:
At certain turns, the show asks for too much of suspension of disbelief from a viewer. Like we understand that the outlandish nature of the show when it goes into the houses of the rich is to make a spoof and show us the divide. But at certain junctures, it feels too much.
Class Review : Last Words:
Class is ludicrously dark but does reward its audience for investing eight hours into watching it. Strict disclaimer: it is not for the ones who aren’t into content that is heavy and dark, but you must give it a try.
For more recommendations read our Trial By Fire Review Here.
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