There are two kinds of people in this world – those who read Hussain Zaidi, and those who don’t. For those who haven’t heard about the writer, Class of ’83 might come across as a 1980s action flick that was released twenty or thirty years too late. But those who are familiar with his work, this is exactly what the doctor would have ordered during Covid-19 lockdown. Add Bobby Deol to the equation and there are more reasons to watch the film than to skip it. It has everything that made the 80s memorable, and although it could have been treated in a better way, it serves the purpose of taking the audience down the memory lane well.
Set in Bombay of the 1980s, Class of 83 revolves around Vijay Singh (Bobby Deol) a disgraced cop sent on a punishment post at the Police Academy, for no fault of his own. He gets to meet some students at the academy who might not be good at studies, but were ideal candidates for what he had in mind. He not only trained five of them in his unusual manner but also unleashed them as encounter specialists on Bombay. It was his way of giving himself another chance but after his protégés go rogue, he is brought back to rein them in. Suspended for taking bribes and bringing a bad name to the department, four of the five are sent away but return after tragedy strikes closer to home. With the help of their mentor, they decide to take matters into their own hands and restore law and order in their own way.
Love him or hate him, Bobby Deol has done some marvelous films back in the day; he might not have managed to stay in the big league for longer duration, but the fire was always there. As Vijay Singh, he manages to channel all his energy into the role of a mentor who looks after his students, make them do his dirty work unknowingly, and comes out as a star performer in a web series, at a time when younger actors are taking over the medium. Not only that, he reunites with Viju Shah who composed the soundtrack of his classic 90s flick Gupt; Viju Shah does the background score of Class of ’83 and keeps the narrative engaging for the viewers who are in 2020.
Yes, the dialogues did resemble the 1980s cinema more than the modern one but one must commend the writer Abhijeet Deshpande and director Atul Sabharwal for deliberately doing that. The director must also be commended for choosing little known TV actors (especially in Pakistan) as the five protégés and that’s why the audience relates to their characters, not the people playing those characters. And then there was Anup Soni (of Crime Patrol fame) who played the corrupt politician for a change, and looked the part.
The biggest drawback about this film is that if you don’t know about Mumbai’s history, you will end up losing interest here. How the Underworld worked in those days, what were the reasons behind joblessness, why encounters were deemed necessary and how was the morale of the Bombay police back in the day are some of the things the audience isn’t well-versed in, especially when the movie is being made for the worldwide audience of Netflix. Add to that some blurred scenes, lousy camerawork at some crucial points and the limited scope of the project and you will feel as if watching a Made for TV movie than a film that was released on Netflix due to Covid-19.
The editing especially of the back and forth scenes could have been done like a film, hence it was executed like a TV show with 1981, 1982 and 1983 distracting the audience. Although the language used in the film isn’t foul like most web series these days, some acts depicted on the screen were; it would have been better had unnecessary vulgarity been avoided to give this movie a wider audience range. Also, Indian Muslims in the 1980s spoke flawless Urdu, yet the pronunciation of the character who narrates the story resembles the Indians Muslims of 2020. Some of the other characters who portrayed Hindus had better command over the language, which looks bad in the end.
The Verdict – Watch it for the love of Bobby!
With Amazon Prime taking the lead over Netflix during Covid 19, the latter had to do something to counter the many web series that are making the former popular. Hence Class of 83 was released to cater to those who have loved Black Friday, who adored the two Shootout movies – Lokhandwala and Wadala and who feel Once Upon A Time In Mumbai deserve another sequel. It captured the mood of the 1980s in a perfect manner; with Bobby Deol in the lead, everything about the movie had a nostalgic touch.
Although the bad guys didn’t have much to do here, the good guys with shades of grey kept the audience on the edge of their seats. The screenplay was more suited to TV than films, and maybe that’s why it was taken up by Netflix; the scenes depicted on screen might have happened or could be fiction, but they are inspired from some real life action, which went onto change the dynamics of Bombay, Indian politics, and even the name of the city!