Class of 83 Hindi Movie Review

Feature Film | UA | Crime, Drama, Thriller | 1h 38min
Class of 83 has the look and feel of a 1980's-style gangsters versus cops drama. The movie has some interesting ideas and an array of fine performances. But the familiar treatment means that it may only appeal to an impressionable audience.
Aug 21, 2020 By Sreejith Mullappilly

For a police procedural, Atul Sabharwal's new Netflix drama 'Class of 83' is as indifferent as it can get. Inspired by a book of the same name written by S. Hussain Zaidi, Class of 83 is the story of Vijay Singh and his team of police officers who are out there to deliver vigilante justice. Singh played by Bobby Deol is a police officer, a product of a corrupt and flawed bureaucracy of the 1980's. One of his encounter attempts on a Mumbai gangster named Kalsekar goes awry after someone from within the system, a local minister, tips the criminal off.

A frustrated Singh then gets demoted to the position of the dean of a Police Academy, where he finds and trains some cadets to take down Kalsekar and his gang of goons. The movie begins with the scenes in the Academy. Much screen time is devoted to the scenes in the institution, and these only work as a set up for what's to come. In a key moment of the film, Singh talks about the system that serves as an explanation for why he needs the five-man team to work for him. Indirectly referring to the bureaucracy as a strong body like the immune system, he tells the cadets that it has to be deteriorated from within. Inspired by this talk, the cadets work for Singh as police officers in Mumbai who get to kill gangsters one at a time without leaving much to trace back to him and his team.

There is little novel to this theme of cops delivering vigilante justice in a judicially corrupt place. We have seen this in several movies, including Dabangg, Gangaajal, Shool, and the Mardani duology to name a few titles. But the problem with Class of 83 is not the fact that it has a familiar script (writer Abhijeet Deshpande). Instead, the thing with it is that it is familiar even in terms of treatment.

Imagine having a gangster antagonist in a movie like this with the name Kalsekar, and using him as a mere cannon fodder in a war movie. We know nothing about Kalsekar other than the fact he is the one who sends the protagonist Vijay into an emotional tailspin. Why did the makers of Class of 83 not even give us a few edgy scenes that add some spark to their rivalry? Then again, you could argue that Class of 83 is told from the perspective of cops, not gangsters. But this does not mean that it is in the leagues such films as The Untouchables.

The main saving grace of the Netflix movie is the performances. Bobby Deol is good in many scenes at conveying the frustration and angst of Singh just through his body language, but he appears poker-faced in several other moments. The pedantry dialogues he delivers do not help elevate either the character or performance from an ordinary level. Nevertheless, it helps that his casting results in an actor's performance, unlike a star turn that outshines every other character/actor. Class of 83 has some relative newcomers who confidently play the roles of Singh's cops. Bhupendra Jadawat as Pramod Shukla, Sameer Paranjape as Aslam Khan, Hitesh Bhojraj as Vishnu Varde, Ninad Mahajani as Lakshman Jadav, and Prithvik Pratap as Janardan Surve. They all put in fine performances, albeit in one-note characters. The period costumes and setting are just right, and so are the politics and corruption brewing beneath.

All in all, Class of 83 certainly has the look and feel of an 80's gangsters versus cop drama. But the familiar treatment means that it may only appeal to an impressionable audience.

Sreejith Mullappilly