Class of 2020 is a rare instance of a teen drama-meets-sex comedy tale, a reasonably interesting mix that hasn’t made the cut in the Indian scenario yet. Most Indian filmmakers falter by trying to make content that would be addressed as genre-benders and pandered to audiences across all age groups (the popular informal reference to such projects is of course ‘full meals’), thereby being dismissive about the impact that a genre-specific show could provide.
As a result, most ‘supposedly’ teen dramas end up being male-driven family entertainers. The latest AltBalaji show, though not the most engaging effort in the teen drama space, at least tries to stay true to the genre completely. It has (an excuse of) a germ of a story where a bunch of students, in the cusp of adulthood, navigate through the uncertainties of teenage life. Blinded by their privilege, they are self-obsessed, sexually charged teenagers whose thoughts revolve around putting their genitalia to work. Don’t expect evolved, meaningful parts here.
For instance, Ibrahim is only sensing various opportunities to get his pants down - the place is among the least among his concerns, be it home, hospital or even the school. An uncertain Hardik (a different interpretation of the name would have worked for a sex comedy) is always sulking at his inability to impress girls. A digital influencer Ronit is more a sex-slave than a partner to a haughty girl Ranchi.
There’s Alia trying to distract herself from the sexually adventurous life of her single mom. Priyanka, though a student, is better at moral-policing, thanks to a scar in the past from which she’s unable to move on. The new entrant in the school Zoey falls for face value more than the personality of a man. Toto’s desperation to find the woman of his dreams undoes him and gets him into potentially-embarrassing situations. The show offers a glimpse into their contrasting family backgrounds and the shallow lives they lead.
The initial episodes promise a non-indulgent comic affair with a toast of dosti, love and sex, but the later portions start taking itself too seriously (for a lightweight outing). The comedy balloons into a heavy drama that tackles a host of issues, with liberal doses of lovemaking sequences inserted in between. While not all teenage hookups or romances are expected to be serious affairs, the director needn’t have reduced most students to be sex-maniacs sans any identity.
The fuss is a lot about commitment – most students are eyeing to sleep with another man/woman while they are dating someone else. The characters of the parents are no different. There’s a regular love triangle stereotype of romance coming in the way of two inseparable friends. A guy tries to make use of a girl’s vulnerable situation during pregnancy to get closer to her. The unexplored subplot about patriarchal pressures and teenage suicide could have been the incident around which the show panned out.
There’s a lovely idea of Sita’s agni-pariksha from a play rehearsal to discuss issues about infidelity among men – however, the director has no clue about staging the sequence and weaving it more integrally into the plot. The humour is particularly stale with repetitive references to the private parts of men and women. The homosexual twist in a ‘truth or dare’ game was uncalled for. With over 30 episodes to establish the frail plot and its characters, the teen drama has no idea about brevity and precision in the storytelling.
The acting is otherwise unmemorable too, but for Rohan Mehra and Alam Khan who lend a flamboyance to their flawed characters. There’s ample skin show involving both genders and it dangerously hovers around the thin line between soft-porn and teen drama. The characters are largely shallow and the sequences to distinguish their socio-economic backgrounds fall flat. Everything about the show is flashy and over the top. Class of 2020 ends up like a bloated show when a simple 10-episode outing could have been more captivating.