Class of ’83 Review (SPOILERS): Stay for the Twist Ending

Well, the movie was fine, low budget and quick moving and all that. But the overall arc of the story was really interesting in a way that makes me want to read the book it is based on, because it doesn’t go quite the way you think it will.

Whole plot in two paragraph:

There is Bobby Deol, our older mentor hero, and also 3 (or 5?) young heroes. Unfortunately, I was never able to fully understand the difference between the young heroes even to the point of not being sure if there were 3 or 5, so my plot description is going to treat them all the same. We start in 1982 at the police training academy. The 3 worst students in class are desperate to do better, especially to impress the legendary Dean of the college who is a hero cop put here on punishment duty. They are angry at their lecturer who keeps catching them on tiny details and go to his quarters to beat him up, where they are stopped and beaten in turn by the mysterious Dean Bobby Deol. Bobby now has an idea. He talks it over with his old friend and second in command. He is frustrated with the modern police force, in which corruption and bribes have become the order of the day, and the new students who are booksmart and out for success. But the 3 lowest students in class are throwbacks, not booksmart or street smart, just dedicated to being police officers. Bobby starts a separate series of lessons focused on teaching these 3 to be tough and smart. After graduation, he reveals his plan to them. He was put on punishment duty after he left his dying wife’s bedside for a chance to capture the biggest gangster in the city. The gangster escaped, and the only person Bobby told of the plan was his politician boss. He confronted the politician for his obvious corruption and in punishment was put in charge of the training academy. Now he wants to seed this young cops into the department to cure it from the inside. They should be “encounter” specialists, work their way up the gangs until they reach the top with his guidance.

Time moves fast after this. The 3 cops manage their first encounter working as a team, and then start moving up and up the ranks, encounter after encounter, the smart ones providing cover for the shooters. One of them gets married and has a child, meanwhile Bobby’s estranged son gets married too and has a daughter he names for Bobby’s dead wife. The gangsters are scared, and so are the politicians. But there is rot in our 3, two of them fall to taking bribes, not from gangsters but still bribes. And then an encounter goes wrong, they shoot a businessman instead of the gangster target they intended. And Bobby refuses to support them, says they have gone too far and he was wrong to encourage them in their power. In the midst of this, one of the 3 (recently engaged) is set up and killed. The remaining 2 decide with Bobby that it is time to go after the Big Bad. They kidnap the Big Bad’s young daughter to set him up for a meeting, then finally kill him. The biggest twist is in the end credits cards. The young cops are brought up on charges, admit to everything, and are punished. The corrupt politician is brought to justice but his son picks up where he left off. And Bobby Deol quits the police to run for office against the politician.

Class of 83 review: Bobby Deol and co-stars delivered terrific ...

So many interesting ideas here! First the idea that the worst students in the training school are the most promising cops, that the whole school structure is set for the smart uncaring ones to succeed, not the ones who care the most. Then Bobby’s idea of teaching the same lessons to all the students, but only the special students will get his true meaning, that’s clever too. Seeing the awkwardness of the young men coordinating their first encounter from their positions at the lowest places in the department is very cool. And then the real brilliance, the twist that they are only human, as they succeed and get more confident they fall to the sin of pride. Encounters have a limited value, can easily go too far. And these young men deserve to be punished, no matter how “heroic” they are some of the time, they still need to face the law.

Or not “law”, but “order”. The repeated phrase of the film is “Law and order, order is more important because without it there can be no law”. When the city is in chaos, when there is no “order” available, then you need something more than law. However, these extralegal forces of “order” must be careful not to themselves fall to “chaos” around them. Bobby sets up these young men without fully considering what he is unleashing. He sees them as a throwback to the cops who came up with him, and they are, dedicated and a little foolish but brave and loyal. Only the world is different, there is too much graft around them, too much danger, they can’t use the methods and rules he gives them.

The film also has really interesting “chaos” examples! There are tons of films about the disorder of the 90s, the gang wars in the city, the extortion, the kidnapping, and so on. But this is about the 80s, when the mills were closing and the workers were protesting, and when the dangerous rebel threat to India was coming from the Sikhs in Punjab. Workers were in the streets, and weapons were streaming in to gangsters from the falling apart Khalistan movement up north.

So, yeah, good book but too much information for a movie. Great setting, great background information, great interesting character journeys. But just too much to grasp in a film, especially a 90 minute film.

It’s still an okay movie, those story elements are good, and there are lots of little nice set pieces, but it’s a bit too confusing and fast moving if you aren’t paying attention, or super familiar with the cop genre.

12 thoughts on “Class of ’83 Review (SPOILERS): Stay for the Twist Ending

    • Oh good, it wasn’t just me! They had plenty of scenes to show us the plot and stuff, but I could have done with a lot more scenes of the young people hanging out together, so we could get more of a feel for them.

      On Sun, Aug 23, 2020 at 1:53 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I don’t think that a “liking” of the 5 characters was a main goal of the movie…. and I don’t think either that the intention was to support the idea of encounter-cops…in my eyes the rotten system within an organization that is meant to be built to maintain law & order is the main target of this movie…the 80ies being just an example for still existing corruption and the bending of the law in favour to maintain a wished order.

        What I saw was an intelligent movie with absolutely no hero but six people who somehow became victims of a system that did not support law but a twisted sense of order.

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        • Agree, it is a smart movie. You probably watched it paying more attention than I did. For me, I needed more on the characters. Not so much liking them, as being able to tell them apart. There was a clear message about who stayed honest versus who gave in to corruption and so forth, and we got that introduction scene showing their different behavior in class, but I couldn’t seem to tie them all together and figure out who was who. It was a real flaw.

          On Mon, Aug 24, 2020 at 1:16 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I also would have liked the movie to be a little longer to do some more focus on the five youngsters and their different characters.
            There was someone commenting on the movie that it would have given enough material to do a mini-series. I agree.

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          • Yes, I was watching it thinking it would have been a fascinating mini-series. Or even series-series, I would be very happy with this is the first season, and the second season dealing with the young cops in jail and Bobby running for office and maybe some new cop characters introduced to tie all the stories together.

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          • There even could be plot parts that deal with how to handle manifestations (as there is also the subject of workers protesting).

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  1. Crime stories, thrillers & cop universes are kind of familiar to me through books and movies, so this may be a reason why I had no difficulties to follow this movie getting the vibes from the very beginning.
    I like stories who touch the idea being at the base of many “teacher”-movies…the vibe of “Death Poets Society”…the one who goes to influence a bunch of impressionable youngsters, consciously or subconsciously following a very personal agenda.
    In my opinion, this movie is doing just that…that’s why the character of the Dean is the most elaborated one with precise motivation.
    From the trailer, people seemed to expect a movie that would glorify the cop world and violence…well, I did not see any glorification except in the thinking of the young men as long as they killed those gangsters allegedly not catchable through legal means. The excuses to excerce a certain power (maintain order) are questioned in the movie…that’s why there is this phrase of law & order being two sides of the same coin…how one handels the one side is how one impacts the other side.
    I think, the movie very clearly accuses the system that reigns in India (and other countries), that of members of a community meant to protect society who corrupt the system for proper gain or interests.

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    • Yes! I think it had a really interesting message of the Dean remaining “pure”, but what he has set in motion with the boys being impure. His initial idea of order versus law, and of going after the bad guys without risking involvement of greater corruption was good. But it had to be balanced with some sense of a squad and a higher power. Once it became pure individualism, the system fell apart.

      Maybe that’s the larger meaning? individualism versus collectivism? The “bad” students at the training college were the ones out to be a success, to move up in the world, to do the best in classes, only for themselves. The “good” students (our 5) were the ones who bonded with each other and were just trying to survive the college. Bobby brought them together as a team and so long as they stayed a team, it worked. But once they became jealous and infighting, and once they started taking bribes for themselves, that’s when it fell apart. In the end, they took collective responsibility for their mistaken killing, which redeemed them.

      On Mon, Aug 24, 2020 at 1:37 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Eventually, bending the law by doing encounters is already the beginning of betrayal to the values cops ‘should’ endorse…to tell others and oneself that one has to kill to maintain order is just an excuse for taking the law into the own hands, for being accuser, judge & executioner in one person…so, the movie says “no” to this kind of building a team of killers…and it says “no” to keeping order through self-excusing violence. I think that a currupt system can’t be changed from within, it needs a cleaning from outside and I also think (and got the impression that the movie supports this thought) that nobody working in a currupt system can remain “pure”…

        That reminds me of ShahRukh’s dad who could only refuse to practise his profession as a lawyer to remain “pure” in a certain way.
        There is also a movie with Michael Douglas that deals with a similar subject.

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        • I think a lot of gangster films are dealing with the idea of only being outside a corrupt system can remain “pure”. Not directly, but with the idea of the parelal criminal society that is in some ways purer than the rotted from the inside regular society. The corrupt cops and encounters here I could see being in a different kind of film where the hero is a gangster whose parents were killed by corrupt police and therefore he doesn’t trust the “law” and instead has created his own law.

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          • …which would also be a kind of excuse…it’s like the famous Tit for Tat where people get blind & toothless šŸ˜‰
            I think, ShahRukh really could do a series on Indian copland but now, the message behind would be too obvious. So, this movie is like a teaser about what he is thinking about the flawed system of law & order.

            He got a lot of negative reviews – as usual, I come to think, since 2010 (and even more since 2015). And then, there are some who tie the movie with the outsider-insider debate stressing that ShahRukh took 5 newcomers from “outside” to star in the movie.

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