Class of 83 review – a throwback thriller with problematic politics eye for an eye

August 21, 2020
Jonathon Wilson 0
Film Reviews, Netflix
2

Summary

Class of ’83 has the right elements, but they come together in an odd package that it’s hard to see as anything other than an endorsement of the vigilante justice it depicts.

2

Summary

Class of ’83 has the right elements, but they come together in an odd package that it’s hard to see as anything other than an endorsement of the vigilante justice it depicts.

After Bard of Blood and Betaal, Atul Sabharwal’s Class of ’83 marks the third failed attempt of Red Chillies Entertainment to infiltrate the Netflix thumbnails and make a solid case for Hindi film and television. But whereas those offerings, a political actioner, and a dumb zombie-horror, respectively, mostly weren’t very good, they were also largely inoffensive, unless you consider general stupidity to be something of an affront. The same can’t be said of this new cop drama, which proudly embraces not just the exploitation tropes of the 80s but also an amoral attitude to law enforcement and justice that reads, problematically, very much like an endorsement.

Far be it from me to get all preachy, but there’s a clear distinction to be made here between the attitudes of characters – in this case, stolid men of the ‘80s – and the attitudes of the contemporary films that couch themselves in that perspective. Partially inspired by real events, based loosely on S. Hussain Zaidi’s book, The Class of ’83: The Punishers Of Mumbai Police, and concerning people whose job is to uphold the law, Class of 83 had something of a responsibility to come down on the right side of the issue and elects not to – a cowardly move at best and a very worrying one at worst.

The avatar of the film’s eye-for-eye sense of vigilante justice is Vijay Singh (Bobby Deol), a veteran cop given a punishment posting as the police academy’s dean which he intends to use to enact revenge against the system by training and unleashing a quintet of cadets as an extrajudicial hit squad. Deol, to his credit, is very good as this man haunted by past trauma and resolute in his righteous duties, but his written justifications are flimsy and the overstuffed screenplay leaves the laggards he recruits jostling for space that the hurried pace doesn’t afford them.

That script, by Abhijeet Deshpande, is rife with sweeping clichés, inelegant exposition, and clumsy structural shorthand that takes responsibility away from the performers when the material would have been much better served by actorly nuance. The overwhelming sense is of a film in far too much of a hurry to get where it’s going without any consideration for what the destination implies, or indeed how best to get there.


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