Class of ’83, directed by Atul Sabarwal, is inspired by the controversial lives of encounter specialists like Pradeep Sharma, Vijay Salaskar, who were trained by the then DGP of police and head of Police Academy Arvind Inamdar. It is based on the book written by the prolific S. Hussain Zaidi- Class of ‘83- The Punishers of Mumbai police.
The story is set in the badlands of Mumbai (then Bombay). Bombay is known for its cotton mills, menacing gangs, and dramatic gang wars. It talks about the period when the gang parlance determined the lingo of the youth, and the organized mafia was taking its final mold. Bobby Deol playing a forthright DGP, who has withstood the injustice and corruption of the system. He is posted in the police academy as a punishment for his going against the set norms and bureaucracy. He believes that the only way to curb the growing mafia is to start nurturing the culture of systematic encounters by the police. A system in which no evidential prove is found against any government official and the criminal doesn’t get a chance to fondle with the sluggish judicial system of the country.
Director Atul Sabarwal is not new to this world of crime as his earlier directorial venture called “powder” went down to the nitty-gritty of the crime world. He combined with the cinematographer Mario Poljac are able to create a realistic mise-en-scene of the Bombay of the ’80s. Especially the color pallets used does provide for a very strong sense of atmospherics to the viewers.
Bobby Deol plays his character with conviction, though making the performance exorbitant in a few instances, but giving us some of the best dialogs of the film. A scene which specifically stands out is where he says and I quote “koi kya kare jab wo apne aas-paas se behtar ho, gala ghot de apne talent ka, aur ban jaaye mediocre, 50 crore aur 100 crore club ki tarah.” It felt like Atul Sabarwal used this dialog as a metaphor on the prevailing system in Bollywood which is oppressive for filmmakers in many ways. It is a critique of the star system and how the success of a film is not decided on the basis of its content of technical soundness but its commercial viability.
The performances are honestly detailed, especially that of Bhupendra Jadawat playing Pramod Shukla and Hitesh Bhojraj playing Vishnu Varde.
It would not be wrong to call S. Hussain Zaidi as the Mumbai mafia aficionado due to his deep research on the subject matter. He is an authority in himself when it comes to the history of Bombay mafia which shaped the future and outlook of this country. It is a treat to read his work on the history of the mafia and especially the impactful and brute characters that played a pivotal role in the political and social system prevailing in the nation. And this is what you miss while seeing the film. The characters fail to leave an impact as we are not exposed to the deeper realms of the character. The meatiness, the motive, the mind-set and the whole philosophy, in general, is subdued, and as an avid viewer one doesn’t get attached to them. Also, I am of the opinion that too much preaching about the philosophy and not actually showing it by actions spoils the broth. But the nuanced and detailed atmospherics make up for the patchy screenplay. Atul Sabarwal feels comfortable and confident in the world he has created.
Though Class of ’83 propounds the theory of justice, the avid viewer will ask and should ask the question that could the motive be differentiated from one another at all, considering the current scheme and environment of things.
After watching the film one dwells into the thought that how surreal and dramatic the events and the lives of the people residing in this city would have been in the ’80s and ’90s. Though the ideas of romanticism could never be separated from the city of dreams, the mafia sure did temper with it, adding a large pinch of realism.
Class of ’83 is streaming on Netflix.
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