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Class series review: An immersive and intriguing remake that shines light on elite privilege- Cinema express

Class series review: An immersive and intriguing remake that shines light on elite privilege

Published: 13th February 2023
Class series review

The Indian film industry has no dearth of stories and content based on caste and class issues. For a while now, filmmakers have come up with a variety of films and shows that portray such issues. The makers of the Hindi series Class, have borrowed the story from the 2018 Spanish series Elite, to talk about the problematic systems and inequalities back here in India. Maintaining the original idea of the story, showrunner Ashim Ahluwalia and his team have ensured that the essence of the series is purely Indian.

Showrunner: Ashim Ahluwalia

Cast: Zeyn Shaw, Anjali Sivaraman, Gurfateh Pirzada, Piyush Khati, Madhyama Segal

Streaming on: Netflix

Just like Elite, Class starts with three working-class children joining Hampton International School (an elite private school) after their government school is destroyed in a fire. Dheeraj (Piyush Khati), Saba (Madhyama Segal) and Balli (Cwaayal Singh) are misfits in a school of pretentious, condescending and haughty students. While the rich brats pick on these students out of their disdain, their lives get entangled in a clash of lifestyles, resentment, envy and sexual attraction.

A few minutes into the series and we are immediately introduced to the Ahuja children Suhani (Anjali Sivaraman) and Veer (Zeyn Shaw), whose father and owner of Ahuja Builders might have been responsible for the arson that kickstarts the series. We also get to know Koel Kalra, Yashika Mehta, Sharan Gujral, and Dhruv Sanghvi as the other rich kids in the school. Faruq and Neeraj are introduced as the brothers of Saba and Dheeraj, respectively.

The series starts with a shot of a dead body of a girl, who we realise by the end of the episode is Suhani Ahuja. The series moves back and forth as Dheeraj starts narrating their lives in Hampton, which is interspersed by the police investigation. While it sticks mostly to the original story offered by Elite, Class incorporates elements that are more relatable and relevant to the Indian audience.

The series deals with a number of issues, ranging from class disparities, caste inequalities, sexuality, drug abuse, mental health and many others in the likes. With the abundance of scenes with nudity, sex and drug abuse, the series resembles Euphoria, with Suhani’s character and backstory being almost synonymous with that of Rue (Zendaya’s character) from Euphoria.

Keeping aside these factors, the series actually pushes for inclusivity with the portrayal of various sexual identities, as well as the difficulties associated with coming out of the closet. While on the one side students of two distinguished classes and castes fight out of disdain, two others of varying backgrounds are shown finding love in each other, and finally being able to come out as queer. This duality and contrasting tones that Class provides give us all the more reason to keep watching.

The world of the rich and the elite always offers a sense of intrigue. The series’ portrayal of most of the male students trying to be the 'alpha male' with bravery and anger issues alike, is acceptable. The fact that they go around with a 'Do you know who my father is?' kind of attitude, is also understandable. However, the idea of minor school children being fully intro drinks, and sex makes it look like a replica of American coming-of-age series revolving around high-school children. While the elite brats of Delhi may actually have a fully functioning sex life and a penchant for drinking, the idea of their parents being fine with it, and maybe even encouraging it is quite superficial.

Class is also a murder mystery, as much as it is a coming-of-age drama. The quest to find out Suhani’s murderer keeps us on our feet. While the motive for the murder and the murderer is pretty much out of the box, the investigation sequences are underwhelming, and not structured to intrigue the watchers. The investigation in Class, which should have ideally made the audience want to guess, ends up becoming the draggy part of the series. Still, the reveal, in the end, is quite enthralling and rejuvenates the viewer to await the series’ sequel.

With dual lighting showing the difference between the people of varying ranks, the series is strong technically too. The homes of the working class are typically set in a grey shade, while of course, the rich ones are filled with bright colours. The various locations, such as the houses, the Hampton International School, and even the streets of Delhi are captured very well by the cinematographers.

For all those who have watched Elite, Class may come as a repetition, or just as a functional remake of the series. But, for those who haven’t, Class will give you a feeling of contempt and curiosity at the same time. Contempt for the blatant showcase of the privilege of caste and class thoroughly, and curiosity about what happens next. While the murder mystery may be underwhelming for some, the brilliant performance put forth by the young cast members will manage to keep you hooked. 

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