Class of '83 (2020) by Atul Sabharwal

I might have missed out on this film were it not for Anna MM Vetticad’s listicle on Firstpost about the best films of Bollywood 2020. ‘Class of 83’, is a surprisingly refreshing take on the crime action genre, tackling the age old issue of the limitations of acting within the law to stop those who act outside it.

While its technical production is impressive, with the moody noir cinematography lending the film a gritty yet ‘out of our time’ vibe, it is the story and Bobby Deol’s stoic performance, supported by an impressive cast of newcomers, that really makes the film.

The story, an adaptation of the book, ‘The Class of 83’ by S. Hussain Zaidi, has Bobby Deol handpicking low ranking police cadets to be a hit squad that works outside the system to stop gangsters that get free by bribing politicians. However, the film does not stop there. Instead of simply pointing out the limitations of a system that can be corrupted and made to turn on itself, it also discusses the dangers of letting officers act outside the law for the ‘greater good’. In many ways, similar to how the amazon show, ‘The Boys’, tackles the issue of what happens when a few select people have too much power and get a free reign to be judge, jury and executioner; ‘Class of 83’ asks the same question but in a much more grounded manner. While the film never raises the stakes enough to be gripping, it nonetheless manages to be an engaging drama worth the watch. One can only hope that films like these succeed as they might allow for more nuanced stories to be told.

On a personal note, an issue I’ve been tackling as a writer, is how to write a story about authorities such as the police without being burdened by the need to point out the very real flaws that exist in these systems. For example, if I want to write a Die Hard-esque film in India, how do I do so without promoting the idea that Cops are above the law. Such a notion, which seems to be already in practice in various parts of the country is not one I want to encourage and thus an issue that I feel obliged to tackle. I don’t have an answer, Class of 83 in fact is exactly the kind of film that I would land up writing if I wanted to address these issues. But I am not sure what other cop stories I can tell that don’t do this.

Anyway, go watch Class of ‘83.

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