Review: Alt Balaji’s ‘Class of 2017’ Gets ‘Bold’ Completely Wrong
A scene from Alt Balaji’s <i>Class of 2017. </i>
A scene from Alt Balaji’s Class of 2017. Photo courtesy: Alt Balaji

Review: Alt Balaji’s ‘Class of 2017’ Gets ‘Bold’ Completely Wrong

Alt Balaji’s Class of 2017 is not even a patch on Hip Hip Hurray, the hit TV series from the 90s, let alone be its ambitious reboot. Though I somehow managed to survive six episodes of the school drama web-series, every single minute was cringeworthy. If school kids today are as sexed up, drugged and abusive as Class of 2017 projects, we must be doing something seriously wrong as a society. But what’s worse is that Alt Balaji seems to have got the concept of ‘bold’ all wrong.

Nothing about Suyash Vadhavkar’s Class of 2017 is really about being in school or the dilemmas of adolescence. It seems these kids, have done all the growing up there is to do. Here’s why Class of 2017 is the worst remix that Nupur Asthana’s Hip Hip Hurray could ever imagine.

Where Are the Kids?

Siddarth (Anushman Malhotra) is the proud school topper. But not once do you see a book in his hand or him attending a class for that matter. What you do see however, which also seems to be the only thing that maters to him and everyone around him, is the size of his penis. He makes a rather ‘bold’ entry into the show. He’s having sex with a former teacher in her bathroom on her wedding day, in her damn house! His dopey and mopey friends crack double meaning jokes about him ‘cumming’ while they wait for him in a car outside. He’s trying out a new drug that happens to be doing wonders for ‘little Sid’. The party begins when he joins his gang, high on achievement and his erection.

A scene from Alt Balaji’s <i>Class of 2017.</i>
A scene from Alt Balaji’s Class of 2017.
Photo courtesy: Alt Balaji

They proceed to throwing themselves a pool party inside the school premises. Cleavage, drugs, gaalis and sex define their self worth. But it does a good job at being feminist at least. It’s not just the boys who are enjoying this high. The girls are having a blast too.

I wonder where the school kids this story was meant to be about, have gone missing? Where is their curiosity, friendship or intelligence for that matter? Those are missing entirely in their characterisations and the situations they land up in.

Soft Porn = Bold?

Do you think of soft porn as something ‘bold’? If yes, maybe you’re the target audience Class of 2017 is hoping to impress. The problem in my opinion is that this web series stops at the need to address sex, rather than talking about sexuality and the questions a teenager might have about kissing, relationships, feelings, breasts and penises. Even their definition of mischief is spiking a kid’s water bottle or sneaking into the principal’s office for a steamy night of blow jobs.

A scene from Alt Balaji’s <i>Class of 2017. </i>
A scene from Alt Balaji’s Class of 2017.
Photo courtesy: Alt Balaji

I understand that Indian television doesn’t allow the space for this ‘bold’ conversation, but is Alt Balaji really doing that with Class of 2017? Are teenagers today raging only to get laid? Are they capable only of having sexist conversations about tits and cleavage? Is literally no one interested in doing something with their lives? By the way, where are the parents?

Shaming

Nostalgia isn’t what makes Hip Hip Hurray way ahead of its times. It really spoke a teenager’s language because its situations were real. If there was shaming or bullying, there was friendship too. If there was masti and mischief, there was padhai too. Teachers and parents played a critical part in the turning point situations of the 90s hit.

But Class of 2017 can barely keep up with reality. It’s not cool to go to your parents or teachers with a problem anymore. It is assumed that they won’t get it. Friends are fickle and you have a shot at being popular only if you’re a rich kid. Friendship itself is based on fear and complexes. Being fat is just as unacceptable as being a virgin. Six pack abs and rock solid erections are the only parameters of machoism. Sleeping with a girl is doing her a favour and the best things in life of course, are illegal.

Where do I even begin?

This Alt Balaji show falls into its own trap. It simply brings forth its repressed sensibility of sexuality and adolescence, rather than taking a bold stand on it. If anything, it might even be setting the worst possible definition of ‘cool’ and ‘bold’ for the youth today.

Ekta Kapoor, just talking about sex is not paramount, what you say about it is what separates the ‘bold’ from the ‘bad’.

(We all love to express ourselves, but how often do we do it in our mother tongue?
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