I can understand why Class of ’83 would have been treated with skepticism after it was dropped directly on streaming platforms in a year when releases to the cinema has been curtailed. For one, it stars Bobby Deol, a poster boy hitherto of a star kid hanging around the movie scene despite hardly having any credible movies or performances in the last decade and more. It doesn’t have any other big faces in the cast. The director is not exactly a known name either.
But here’s the thing. It isn’t a great movie for sure. But it isn’t bad either. Dig beneath the surface and you realize some redeeming factors in the crew. Atul Sabharwal, the director, should be a bigger name by now. He made a critically acclaimed and lesser seen Indian thriller series called Powder back when there wasn’t much mileage for this sort of thing in Indian television. He then managed to make a movie about that oft-used masala trope of double roles and make it a gripping, but again underseen, watch with the Malayalam actor Prithviraj and Rishi Kapoor in sparkling form. Heck, he made another relatively maligned star kid, Arjun Kapoor, come out of it decently enough. So, I was looking forward to this film, especially with its setting in 80’s Mumbai.
And it wasn’t a disappointing watch, if you know what you’re in for. A bunch of unruly cadets at the Police training academy are taken under the wings of its legendary dean, who is transferred there as part of a punishment posting, and turned into his instruments against crime by fighting them from within the system but with, at times, questionable methods. These guys form a close bond over the years and soon find themselves in Mumbai playing opposing gangsters off each other. But the flesh is weak, especially when riches are being thrown at you from both sides. Can these officers stay away from the lure of an easy payday or will they forget what their mentor was all about?
Bobby Deol as the stoic and silently grieving dean and hotshot police legend can be a bit of a stretch at times, but he actually does a decent job of it. Its been a while since I saw him in anything worthwhile, so perhaps that may have helped. The young actors all do a good job, though none of them are especially memorable. But the mood setting and the look of vintage 80’s Mumbai is remarkably portrayed and helps make up for deficiencies in the movie’s script and rushed screenplay. The problem is that we are told a lot of stuff has happened and will happen, but are privy to very little of actual note during the film. This was one film which, rather than being crisp and short at just over 90 minutes, could have used some more time for the world and character building. Even the famed dean’s character is left after the initial portions for most of the movie and we are left not really having known him much.
Again, in short, it isn’t a ‘great’ movie per se. But if you are one for gritty police dramas set in the 80’s and peopled with characters with shades of varying grey and redemption arcs, then you would come off having enjoyed this film. And perhaps, if not already seen, take a look at the same director’s much more superior ‘Aurangzeb’.