Netflix Class review: This series had the potential to reach higher if it would have just trusted itself and not completely relied on its Spanish counterpart.
Netflix Class review: Adaptations are always scary because why would someone want to watch the same thing again? But on the other hand, if they’re made properly they do provide the story a chance to reach out to those people that it couldn’t have earlier. And Netflix’s Class tries to do the same thing by being an official Indian adaptation of a very popular Spanish series, Elite. A story about the huge class divide and how this functions and impacts is told in an interesting format of a teen drama. But just like Elite jisne apne hi pair pe khuladi maari after a few good seasons, the exact same could be said for Class even though it offers a different discourse compared to Mismatched or any of TVF’s textbook teen dramas while narrating many realities of our country.
Three underdogs – Saba Manzoor (Madhyama Segal), Dheeraj Kumar Valmiki (Piyush Khati), and Balli Sehrawat (Cwaayal Singh) get a chance to go to the high-class, posh, and reputed school of Delhi- Hampton International after their own school got burned down in a mysterious fire. And while we see them struggle to make their own place amongst these rich brats, they disrupt the whole ecosystem, changing the lives of Suhani Ahuja (Anjali Sivaraman), Veer Ahuja (Zeyn Shaw), Koel Kalra (Naina Bhan), Sharan Gujral (Moses Koul), Yashika Mehta (Ayesha Kanga) and Dhruv Sanghvi (Chayan Chopra) forever. The series is a non-chronological exploration of a murder mystery that starts with a murder being committed and peels through the layers to reach the murderer. As the dirty little secrets start to seep through the designer borders of well-insulated walls which turn friends into foes, so-called lovers seek revenge, and class-caste-religion-sexuality comes into play.
Also Read: The Janta watched Class only for its ‘elite’ queer romance!
Tbh, when a show like Elite that is in itself so well-made and popular, it is always anxiety provoking to imagine its adaptation. But when filmmakers like Ashim Ahluwalia (Miss Lovely, Daddy), Raghav Raj Kakkar (Inmates, Looop Lapeta), Kashyap Kapoor, Kesri Khambatta (Being Cyrus, Finding Fanny), and Bhaskar Hazrika (Aamis) are adapting something and making a show, you know you are in for a ride. Whether or not you have watched Elite, Class has you hooked either way irrespective of it being an adaptation since it offers a lot in the Indian context, especially individuality. It’s placed in Delhi which itself is geographically class divided and offers people enough room to think that their own demographic is the only one existing and there is nothing beyond that or at least they don’t want to interact with it. Hence making the social commentary of the show completely believable.
The way Delhi NCR has been explored in depth where every nook and corner becomes an important part of a story is a brilliant use of turning a location into a character. And kudos to the casting team Panchami Gharvi, Sanjeev Maurya, and Prashant Singh, as they brought fresh new faces that are a perfect fit in comparison to the Spanish show. As much as I enjoyed watching Gurfateh Pirzada (Neeraj), Chintan Rachchh (Faruq), Madhyama Segal (Saba), Piyush Khati (Dheeraj), Cwaayal Singh (Balli), Zeyn Shaw (Veer), Chayan Chopra (Dhruv), Anjali Sivaraman (Suhani), Ayesha Kanga (Yashika) for bringing out their well-seasoned and chiseled best, I could not help but think if Naina Bhan (Koel), and Moses Koul (Sharan) could have been stronger and more impactful given their unique, over-indulging and obsessive dynamic. Another thing I noticed is how they all look the same in appearance, something I found very odd!
On another front, Class is fairly disappointing because it lacks conviction for its much darker elements. Well-intentioned concepts like class-caste debate, Kashmiri immigrants, stereotypes for Muslims, humanizing the rich class, and a tussle to just belong gets a little lost in this catty drama that is not catty enough. Elite if anything was not afraid of itself; it had a balance between well-intentioned concepts and its tonality in terms of being a sexualized-catty-revenge teen drama. Class, on the other hand, even though offers a great discourse is not brave enough to follow its own heart and paints rather a glossy picture under a ‘Euphoria’ kind of aesthetic. Whether it’s the script because of a whole writers’ room involved or new faces not being able to completely channel the darker truth, something doesn’t work in favor of the show when it comes to conviction. Their indecisiveness regarding what they want to be and not striking a balance makes them miss out on a great opportunity for being an amazing intense teen drama.
As interesting as it is to see how the trust fund-rich snobs are actually so threatened by the underprivileged getting the same seat at the table that they commodify, use, and abuse them for their own benefit, unfortunately, this show doesn’t connect and stay with you. Hence, Class could have been a drama that explores the tropes of guilty pleasure delights and yet is based on how social hierarchies and power dynamics play out amongst the huge class gap, but it just misses its mark. Another major disappointing factor was the archetypes of the adults in the show, like the police or the parents and especially the principal who are so out of context and only used as narrative devices to join the dots or push it forward.
If the series could only inch a little bit higher and find a proper balance between its darker elements and its bang-on social commentary it could have been a breakthrough show. Frustratingly, none of this comes out in an impactful manner in Class, rather it all just dangles and exists. And that, for the love of god, unfortunately, makes this a mixed-bag, conflicting, defeated watch!
But having said that to dismiss Class just on the basis of it being a ‘copy of Elite’ or ‘such things don’t happen in India’ would be entirely unjustified. As for one, we don’t really know the socio-economic culture of Spain to comment on what they might have got wrong. And the series does stand on its own two feet in more than one way.
Especially with its stunning visual, auditory, and aesthetic sense with an exceptional color palette, production design, sound design, background score, music (totally worth being in your playlist), and cinematography exploring the narrow lanes of old Delhi or the big mansions of south Delhi. And mature explorations of sexuality, representation, great tussle dynamics amongst people especially the two brothers, epic teen love story of fighting against all odds, and an eight-episode run time makes this an engaging, and productive teen drama that pushes you to think about a lot of things.
And just the way the tainted glass doors are broken in the show, the same works for the audience. As the show offers an insight into the world of those 1% crème de la crème class of our society who are abundantly wealthy but hollow inside trying to fill that void with any vice like drug abuse. The Hampton International irrespective of not being totally believable does give vibes of so-called posh schools of Delhi where cases like Bois Locker room do take place.
So it is fair to say for the Netflix Class review which is directed by Kabir Mehta and Gul Dharmani, that it puts forth very much a reality of our country that is still yet unexplored but falls short only by a little. And even after its weak ending, I am still looking forward to watching what happens next or how they take Elite-only forward given its loopholes!
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