Based on crime journalist Hussain Zaidi’s book by the same name, ‘Class Of ’83’, sees Bobby Deol making his debut on OTT as Vijay Singh. A hero in the police force once upon a time – now shunted to Nashik police training academy as dean of the institution – Vijay’s professional eclipse is paralleled by a personal tragedy that has turned him cold and cynical.
The film begins at the training academy in 1982, where five cadets are having a tough time reining in their rebelliousness and keeping up with lessons. Shukla (Bhupendra Jadawat), Aslam (Sameer Paranjape), Jadhav (Ninad Mahajani), Surve (Prithvik Pratap) and Varde (Hitesh Bhojraj) are almost on the verge of being removed, when the academy’s otherwise elusive dean (Vijay), takes a keen interest in them. A sense of purpose in Vijay’s life returns as he picks these five weaklings, who, he senses, have a street-smart acumen at cracking cases, even though they may have not scored well academically. He decides to hone them into a shadow squad of sorts – one that will eliminate criminals without necessarily staying within the limits of the law.
This takes us back to Singh’s own demons. In 1981, while leading a raid on gangster Kalsekar, he was ambushed and ended up losing several of his men. To make matters worse, he returned to find that his ailing wife — whom he had left in the hospital — was dead. We also learn that the academy is a punishment posting, and that he had tried to commit suicide. The hit squad is, therefore, a way for him to redeem himself.
However, with all its comeback-y vibe, ‘Class of ‘83’ doesn’t pack a punch. A stiff performance buried in cop cliches, the film ends up being the sob backstory of a brooding cop messing around with a supposed purpose.
Bobby Deol’s Vijay Singh is not a commanding performance but somewhat of an adequate one, proof to what can happen when an actor with years on his face gets a kindly director who will cover up his limitations! The actors playing the young cops are a superb, ornery ensemble—though again, a little more time with each would have gone a long way into character building.
Though the ‘Class Of ’83’ talks of the fine line between law and lawlessness, trying to underscore the edges where the demarcation blurs, the subsequent payoff is far from compelling. The storyline is never really engrossing enough, and the writing and direction lack the urgency that a film of this genre demands.