If you grew up in the nineties, you are probably well aware of the Deol brothers and their on-screen shenanigans. While Sunny Deol established himself as the angry, young man fighting his way through life, Bobby dabbled between both action and comedy/romance. Though he was part of a plethora of cringey films – Humraaz, Ajnabee, Dosti: Friends Forever, to name a few – he always managed to win hearts. Bobby has been the subject of countless memes and is loved by the 90s kids. His latest offering Class of ’83 shows him in a much more mature and serious role but the film, unfortunately, falls flat though he does manage to give a decent performance.
Set in the early 80s, when Mumbai was the hub of the underworld, Class of ’83 is about an honest and upright police officer, Vijay Singh, who is shunned from the police force for not obliging with the high-ups and those involved in corruption. As punishment, Singh is appointed as the dean of the Police Training Centre in Nashik. Though Singh has little interest in the academy, five backbencher cadets catch his attention and he decides to train them as lethal assassins and ‘encounter’ specialists to punish the corrupt bureaucracy and its criminal allies. As the young cadets graduate and find their footing in the force, they go on a killing spree getting rid of the “bad guys in the city” before Singh finally joins them to settle an old score. It’s hard to tell whether the film is Singh’s personal story or if it about Mumbai’s gritty underworld – from where I see it, I think even the filmmakers did not figure out that part. Because while the film shows glimpses of Singh’s personal life and the reasons behind his actions, it also focuses on the five ‘encounter specialists’, their encounters, as well as the police force. I think in a bid to make the film as short as possible, the makers decided to cut out parts they thought are unnecessary and left the viewers’ to figure out the missing pieces.
While the performances were decent, including those of the junior officers, lack of a coherent and compelling script made the film a yawn. The dialogues were not memorable and the storytelling boring. On the flip, the cinematography was cool and the editing crisp – the film wrapped up in about an hour and a half and had it been longer than that, I would have probably stopped watching it. My only reason for sitting through the film was Bobby and he did not disappoint. Though I miss the old Bobby and his ability to make any situation comic, the new and improved Bobby is not bad either.
Class of ’83 is loosely based on a book of the same name by leading India crime journalist Hussain Zaidi and is inspired by real accounts of the city’s first encounter specialists. It has been directed by Atul Sabharwal and produced by Shah Rukh Khan and Gauri Khan under Red Chillies Productions.
Like I said in my last Netflix review, Bollywood seems to have rekindled its romance with the crime genre and the police force, given the recent number of series and films based on the subject. Class of ’83 follows the same path but because of a weak script and plot, the film fails to capture your attention.
It is currently trending at number six on Netflix Pakistan.
On the contrary, if you’re looking to watch a Bollywood flick, I would highly recommend Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl. The film, which is based on India’s first female pilot in combat, is mature and inspiring. Before watching the film, I was fully convinced that the film would contain a lot of propaganda against Pakistan given the subject, but I was pleasantly surprised to see none of it in the film. Starring Janhvi Kapoor in the titular role, Gunjan Saxena is a personal story of a woman who overcomes multiple hurdles and patriarchy and follows her dreams of becoming a pilot. Highly recommended.