Just when you think that Bollywood is saturated with star kids, here comes a film on Netflix that introduces five new talents in one go. Actor Bobby Deol is one of the few established actors in police drama ‘Class of 83’.
The movie is inspired by true events when a clutch of renegade cops took it upon themselves to flush out the Mumbai’s trigger-happy gangsters. Actor Deol plays a grave college professor who trains them well to be rebels within the police system.
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As the film, produced by Gaurav Verma and Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment, premieres in the UAE on Netflix on August 21, here are 10 takeaways from our interviews with cast members Deol, Hitesh Bhojraj, Bhupendra Jadawat and Sameer Paranjape.
1. Bollywood actor Bobby Deol spearheads this cop drama ‘Class of 83’. Deol, in an interview with Gulf News, says he agreed to jump aboard this project because he was desperately seeking characters that he had never done before. He plays the cynical and bitter Vijay Singh, a disillusioned and troubled senior cop who is forced to become the dean of a police academy as a punishment transfer from his superiors.
“I just loved my character. He is so interesting and he’s so different from the roles that I have done in the past. It’s a real, humane story of a police officer. We show through this film what an officer goes through in his personal life when he makes his family his secondary priority in his life.
"His first priority and loyalty was towards his profession, but the system does not let him operate the way he needs to and punishes him for doing his job. In doing so, he loses his family and there’s a lot of pain in him,” said Deol over a call from Mumbai.
He was also keen to make his debut on an OTT platform and ‘Class of 83’’ ticked all the boxes when it came to a sturdy script.
2. The punishment transfer that Deol is referring to was the collateral damage when a drug bust led by him goes awry and he is asked to become the dean of a police training academy in Nashik, Maharashtra. As far as careers go, such a move at the peak of a police career is considered to be the Siberia for cops, where you are not allowed to be in the line of fire and are relegated to the shadows.
“One of the best parts about this film is that it’s not a mere police procedural… it’s a story of all these individuals who are battling personal demons. For instance, my wife was terminally ill with cancer and he lost out on building a bond and a relationship with her and his son because he was busy with his profession … So he goes through a lot of pain and that was something I could identify with … ‘Class of 83’ is a film that looks at a story of a group of individuals who decide to become cops,” said Deol.
3. Directed by Atul Sabarwal, ’Class of 83’ is set in Mumbai (then Bombay) in the early 80s. Dean Vijay Singh takes five young cadets under his wing to fight corruption brought upon by the underworld in 80s Bombay.
4. The film is adapted from author Hussain Zaidi’s book ‘Class of 83: The Punishers of Mumbai Police’. Produced by Gaurav Verma and Gauri Khan from Red Chillies Entertainment, it’s written by Abhijeet Deshpande.
“We had a monthlong workshop even before we got to reading the script. We were given a full understanding of the ‘80s Mumbai and workshops began a month before the actual shoot began,” said Bhupendra Jadawat, one of the five new faces in the film.
5. The film trains the spotlight three new actors making their debuts — Hitesh Bhojraj, Bhupendra Jadawat and Sameer Panjape.
Deol said: “Honestly, you don’t ever feel that they are first time actors … They look the part to the last letter and Atul as a director imported his way of thinking and made this film. It’s all thanks to him. This is not your usual police drama.”
The film also shows Deol as a man in his late 40s. Typically, Deol — the son of actor Dharmendra and brother of Sunny Deol — was known for his string of romantic roles where he looks suave and polished. The movie was also a new beginning for the newcomers, who can’t believe that their debut will be broadcast in 190 countries.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better launch pad … This is what dreams are made and it’s all coming true for all of us,” said Bhojraj. Actor Sameer Paranjape remembers the time when he idolised Deol and how their combined workshops and readings helped them play their parts better. “Our comfort with each other will be reflected on screen,” said Paranjape in Hindi.
6. Rising actor Bhojraj, who plays one of the cadets, in the same interview told Gulf News that when he auditioned for the role, he had no idea about the journey that lay ahead of them. But being a part of a Bobby Deol project excited him tremendously.
“As newcomers, just being called to audition for a film is a big thing for us and then to know that you are going to have a meaty role is a big deal for us … All are 90s kids so to speak and were big fans of Bobby Deol sir. This is what dreams are made for us. He guided us a lot,” said Bhojraj.
7. The admiration wasn’t one-sided. Actor Deol claims he felt like their teacher who was responsible for moulding their lives. “Just like how a father figure gives their kids an understanding about your culture, in a similar way Vijay Singh is trying to teach them the right meaning of being a police officer and their duties. He tries to explain to them that the system is corrupt so you have to go against the system and how to do that in the right way,” said Deol.
8. Of all the scenes in this film, Deol found the scene in which he confronts and reprimands his band of cadets challenging. But his favourite scene in the thriller is one where the boys are just starting off their careers and they are sitting tougher for a meal. “They were so in tune with their characters in that scene. It’s such a well-written scene and you can feel that camaraderie that they enjoy. In an intense film like there are some very light, well-written scenes that feel incredibly real and raw,” he said.
His colleague Paranjape and Bhojraj agree. “We all look like we studied in college together. That discussion over the meal about mill owners and how he makes an ill-conceived dumb comment hurting his other friend has been caught so well. That scene feels so genuine,” said Bhojraj.
9. While the film may glorify police brutality and an undemocratic way of flushing out gangsters through ‘encounter shoot-outs’, the actors collectively feel that the police should play by the book in real life. “The police should play by the rules ideally and just like in every profession, just because one policeman is bad doesn’t make the whole community bad. Police are always risking their lives for us. But using brutality is not the right thing to do.”
10. Actor Paranjape, who plays police officer Aslam Khan, reminds us that ‘Class of 83’ is finally a story based on a book that was inspired by true events. Their efforts were to be true to the story written in the book.
“There are various departments here at play like our costumes, make-up and lighting that goes into making the story which the audience will watch. So at no particular point were we thinking of our morals here. We were all just concentrating on the fact that we have a job at hand and were thanking our lucky stars that we newcomers got such an incredible opportunity. We had our blinders on. And this is a work of fiction ultimately,” said Paranjape.
Meanwhile actor Jadawat truly believes that are looses canons in any law enforcement agency and ‘Class of 83’ reflects that.
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‘Class of 83’ is out on Netflix on August 21.