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Netflix series Class based on the Spanish series Elite could have done better, with nuanced and more socially conscious handling.
Netflix series Class (2023–), a crime drama thriller, tries to delve into multiple social issues in India including but not limited to corruption, Islamophobia and homophobia. However, in its attempt to bring so many themes together, it gets many of them terribly wrong. This article explores a few of them.
The Kashmiri siblings definitely deserved more screen time and better introductions, especially with respect to their cultural backgrounds. It seemed as though they were written to be Kashmiris solely for the makers to be able to earn brownie points for having introduced a diverse range of subplots in the series.
Saba Manzoor (Madhyama Segal), for instance, is shown to combat Islamophobia to the point where she is forced by the principal of her school to take off her Hijab for the time that she spends there. However, why is such a serious issue not addressed in a deeper manner?
Saba’s sibling, Faruq (Chintan Rachchh), on the other hand, has to deal with homophobia due to his homosexuality. But, why aren’t the intersections between his religious and sexual identities explored more in the series?
The Dalit siblings are awkwardly named Dheeraj (Piyush Khati) and Neeraj Kumar Valmiki (Gurfateh Pirzada) with their nicknames being Dheeru and Neeru. It is clear that the makers of the series put in the bare minimum effort required to name their characters which is evident in how they picked one of the most common Dalit last names for the siblings.
Somehow, even though these two characters are supposed to be Dalits, there is nothing that is highlighted in the series about how the Dalit youth—especially the ones whose families have been unable to raise their financial status in the country—have to constantly deal with both casteism and elitism even in metropolitan cities like New Delhi. The series fails to do justice to Dalit people, just like it fails the Kashmiris.
Almost everything—from her username being @richierrichkidsofdelhi to her overall character arc—about Yashika Mehta (Ayesha Kanga) seems unnecessary and over the top in the series. The only role she seems to play in the storyline is to patronise and bully her classmates who are less fortunate than her and to spread rumours about her more privileged peers. She is, of course, a competitive girl, but even that doesn’t really add any value to the plot of the series.
The question is: why are her scenes with her class teacher and her principal included in bits and pieces, here and there if they don’t really help shape the narrative in any way? Yashika, in fact, is not even someone whom the viewers would doubt as having murdered the character of Suhani (Anjali Sivaraman).
Instead of focusing on the backstories of the Kashmiri and Dalit characters, the series attempts to create mystery about why Suhani Ahuja is in the same grade as her younger sibling, Veer (Zeyn Shaw) to make the viewers wonder what had truly happened to her in her past. When she finally reveals details about her “traumatic” childhood and teenage to Dheeraj, one realises how predictable her story actually is.
What was the need to even include it in the narrative, in the first place? Did the makers think that it would be interesting for the viewers to listen to the sob story of an extremely privileged girl who only knows how to create problems for herself? Even if Suhani’s issues are valid, would it not have been better for Class to bring out the stories of those who deserve to be heard much more than her?
Dhruv’s (Chayan Chopra) father, Deven Sanghvi (Ketan Singh) can be found making extremely sexist and homophobic remarks throughout. He is not only a terrible father, but also his son’s swimming coach. Thus, the tactics he uses to motivate his son to become a better swimmer is to tell him that he deserves to swim in the “girls under 12” swimming team due to his poor performance and to later ask him to quit and pursue “home science” in place of swimming.
Who even writes such problematic dialogues in 2023 without addressing the need for them? Moreover, why aren’t misogynistic characters like Deven ever held accountable in web series like Netflix series Class?
If you have eight hours to spare on a series about South Delhi elitism, then Netflix series Class is definitely for you. Though, be warned that the makers know very little about both South Delhi elites and the culture within South Delhi schools. A personal suggestion would be to fast forward all scenes and only watch the ones featuring Faruq and Dhruv—the two make an adorable queer couple.
A dysgraphic writer who spends most of their time watching (and thinking about) Bollywood films. read more...
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