Web Series: Class of 2017

03 . Jul . 2017
Reading Time: 3 minutes

In business, if you have to make your mark, you have two options. Either give stunning, quality content in short doses or invade the market with any and every content that you can make or get your hands on. At its peak, Ekta Kapoor’s Balaji ruled the airwaves with her ‘saas bahu’ series.

Ekta tries to duplicate that amount of success with her platform, ALTBalaji, in the streaming scenes scenario. Most of it has turned out to be a damp squib. Shooting for her biggest project, ‘The Test Case’ has stopped. ALTBalaji has already begun tying up with other digital platform, sending across rumours that the platform itself – a subscription model – isn’t working.  In this scenario comes ‘Class of 2017’, a spiritual remake of ‘Hip Hip Hurray’, an immensely popular series about school kids back in the nineties.

What’s WOW: The very thought that this series was written, shot, acted in and has finally hit the screen has us sit in our chairs, take a deep breath and say ‘wow’.  The series raises more questions than it raises. Why is Akash Chanchlani a part of this series? What bet did he lose to take part in this debacle? He is one of the most talented humorists in India.

What’s Blah:  To use ‘Class of 2017’ and ‘Hip Hip Hurray’ in the same sentence is a crime against the art of film-making and story-telling. A better name for this series would ‘Crass of 2017’. The series is about students in a school – it isn’t clear whether it’s a boarding school or a day-school. It also isn’t clear what subjects are being taught in the school, whether it’s a ICSE school, or a CBSE school, or whether it’s just a collaborative effort of all parents who wish to home-school their kids. What’s abundantly clear though, is that ALTBalaji thinks that a staggering percentage of kids – in school – drunk copious amounts of liquor, have had their tryst with weed and are super okay with having sex.

Is that all that kids do in school? Is there no place for education, imparting and absorbing knowledge, school projects, romance? All the sequences we have seen in the series right now are about carnal lust. We hope that changes sometime soon.

Watching ‘Class of 2017’ is an experience that empties your soul. It is a shallow experience that chases your logic, grabs it, and mugs it. Not just mugs it, it gives it a bloodied beatdown.  People who have actually attended any kind of school will find the entire experience traumatic. This is one of those series that you ‘cannot unsee’

The only other activity that gave us so much grief was watching a strip down video of an iPhone. But even that has some technical relevance, ‘Class of 2017’ doesn’t even have that.  Only two attributes are prevalent on the show,  debauch and lust.

In a bid to show debauch and lust, the director has coolly forgotten logic. How can students have a pool party in a school pool,  replete with hash, beer and well, sex? Are the parents of the students so poor that they can’t even send their kids to a school that has a decent security system in place? Even a single building school in Mumbai can’t be broken into. How 50 students have a pool party in what looks like a prestigious  school is beyond our logic.

Some other incidents in the series tell us how disconnected the film-maker is from the real world. One of the characters calls up a person, informing him that he wants to indulge in paid sex. This hackneyed, cliched scene further beats logic. Providing call girls isn’t exactly a legal profession. People can and do literally get slammed behind bars just at the suspicion of indulging in prostitution. How a pimp talks with such confidence over the phone is jaw-droppingly illogical.

See the series for a while and you’ll see that the writer has tried to add some kind of layer to the characters. One of the girls thinks that she’s not right for the school. Another, bespectacled guy is looking for physical intimacy and is ignored by his father. But these small sequences are lost in the deluge of story arcs like ‘losing virginity,  getting high’ and all that.

Parting Shot: Looking at the series, we wouldn’t buy an ALTBalaji subscription for 25 paise even if it were available for 10 years.