Netflix’s Elite created quite a chaos when it first debuted in 2018. The Spanish series had a bit of everything: class struggle, socio-economic disparities, racism, sexism, queer relationships, teenage angst, and sex, with a dollop of violence and murder. Elite established yet again that teenagers are perhaps the most brutal and unforgiving. When Ashim Ahluwalia was put in charge of the Indian remake of Elite, I had never expected Class to be such a riveting and hard-hitting social commentary that sometimes even surpasses the original source material in terms of depth and nuances.
At its core, the story remains completely faithful to its Spanish predecessor. The episode begins with three poor students — Saba, Balli and Dheeraj — being thrust into the posh world of the rich socialites whose kids attend the Hamptons school. They are put into the school to shush the public outrage regarding a deliberate fire that destroyed their schools. Having grown up in the poor slums of Delhi with working-class families, they stick out like sore thumbs amidst upper-class students who have no regard for anything except fancy cars, crazy parties, Instagram likes, grandeur, extravaganza, and lavish lifestyles.
The creator increases pressure on his characters from the very get-go by introducing the murder of a rich kid in the first episode and then unravels the story in a parallel format. While one takes the audience into the past, the other plays out in the police station while several people are being interrogated.
Class is a brilliant commentary on the economic divide that haunts the country, especially the capital city. While some die of hunger and cold, others simply sit on fat wads of cash, refusing to empathise with the poor, bullying them and treating them like scum. Ahluwalia also introduces the nuance of the caste system and religious intolerance which is still prevalent in India which makes the series even more fascinating (and enraging).
The show also deals with a variety of other issues, from absent parents to homophobia, from paedophilia to revenge porn and more. While some might argue that it is pretty much larger than life, there are elements of realism that make it pulpy, scandalous and heartbreaking at the same time. Jealousy and contempt are the two emotions which are common to the students in the school, especially the rich who love to dabble in scandals, drugs and notoriety.
With brilliant visuals that remind you of HBO’s Euphoria and snazzy casting — most of the cast members have almost no acting experience except Gurfateh Pirzada and they deliver brilliantly — and an overall dangerously seductive appeal (think Gossip Girl meets Pulp Fiction), the series leaves us panting for more. We want the rich to fail. We want their façade to be torn down. Death to capitalism, yada yada. But above all, we want to see how else Ahluwalia can weave in the cultural fabric of the country into this socialist drama and perhaps make it continue for some more seasons like Elite.
Watch the trailer below: