Class of '83 Review: Bobby Deol shines in this tried-and-tested cop drama formula

Bobby Deol, class of 83, netflix, S Hussain Zaidi, OTT, Shah Rukh Khan, red chillies, sushant singh rajput, mumbai, cops, Mumbai Police, Atul Sabharwal

Netflix's latest offering looks good and sounds great, but fizzles out in the end

By Ambica Sachin

Published: Mon 24 Aug 2020, 2:13 PM

Last updated: Mon 24 Aug 2020, 8:39 PM

If ever there was an institution in dire need of PR to salvage its badly dented reputation right now, it's none other than the Mumbai Police. In that regard Netflix's Class of '83 couldn't have been timed better.
Based on journalist S Hussain Zaidi's book The Class of '83: The Punishers of Mumbai Police, the cop thriller is directed by Atul Sabharwal (Aurangzeb) and produced by Shah Rukh Khan's Red Chillies Entertainment. 
Just when the intrepid police force of India's entertainment capital, once proudly referred to as the 'Scotland Yard of India' (yes) is taking a rap for the lackadaisical manner in which they have handled the mysterious death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput, comes the Bobby Deol starrer that revolves around an elite Mumbai force.
While the tone and pitch of the one and a half hour movie can't be faulted, the same unfortunately can't be said about the plot. The nexus between cops, criminals and corrupt politicians has been explored in depth by the Hindi film industry. Class of '83 aims to stand apart from the crowd as it explores the trajectory of five trainee cops from a Police Training Academy and their rise to a covert elite force that specialises in encounter killings. 
Cops turning into trigger-happy vigilantes is a theme that has played out relentlessly on the big screen with much greater impact. Class of '83 unfortunately doesn't offer anything new, except for the five newbies who play the  'back-benchers' turned marksmen who go about their business of ridding Mumbai of its dreaded gangsters. 
Sameer Paranjape, Hitesh Bhojraj, Bhupendra Jadawat, Ninad Mahajani and Prithvik Pratap who play the encounter specialists Aslam, Varde, Shukla, Jadhav and Surve are spot on in their respective jobs.
However, the screenplay lags in fleshing them out individually as a result of which they seem pretty inter-changeable. Not much effort has been taken to give them solid backgrounds or an identity that would make them stand apart from each other. Anup Soni plays the corrupt politician with admirable restraint, though again his character could have done with a bit more depth. The lack of a solid female character turns this into a testosterone-infused world with no redeemable features. 

In contrast the one who towers over and above the rest of the cookie-cutter characters in this sepia-toned period piece is Bollywood's own Bobby Deol. As Dean Vijay Singh he is in top form as the brooding, angst ridden cop battling his own inner demons. With his solid presence he holds the movie together even as his protégées, the five police trainees, run helter-skelter.
The retro effect plays out well though the mainly dark tone of the movie will have you squinting at the screen initially. Why do so many of these movies dropping on the OTT platform face a similar issue, I wonder. 
In the end Class of '83 is most memorable for its lead star, rather than the class itself and that's a shame.
The movie comes a bit too late perhaps to salvage the reputation of Mumbai's police force. The story of an upright, conscientious cop, bent upon bending the rules to maintain the law and order in his beloved city, sounds heroic on screen and looks good on the big screen. But it is all optics and without a solid plot to power it, the film soon fizzles out.
Class of '83
Director: Atul Sabharwal
Cast: Bobby Deol, Anup Soni, Bhupendra Jadawat, Ninad Mahajani, Hitesh Bhojraj, Sameer Paranjape
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Class of '83 is currently streaming on Netflix
Class of '83 is currently streaming on Netflix

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