The first time when I saw the trailer of Class from Netflix India, I was very amused. As usual, I started reading up and learned that the show is an adaptation of the popular Spanish series Elite from 2018. This piqued my expectations even more, and when I actually saw the show, I just couldn’t get enough of it. Yes, it is such a gripping tale that director Ashim Ahluwalia has told so brilliantly. Starring all newcomers – Anjali Sivaraman, Ayesha Kanga, Gurfateh Pirzada, Chayan Chopra, Chintan Rachchh, Zeyn Shaw, Piyush Khati, Madhyama Segal, Cwaayal Singh, Naina Bhan, and Moses Kaul in lead roles, Class has been a trend amongst the top 10 shows in India. With all the buzz around it, I spoke to the captain of this ship Ashim to know how he pulled this off.
Talking about the amazing response the Class received, Ashim says…
I really wanted to make the show, the way I wanted, and Netflix gave me a lot of freedom. Class is pushing the envelope quite a bit. I just didn’t want to have known faces, I wanted a very cinematic, atmospheric style, there were a lot of strong choices I made. It could have been a much safer version of the show, but we went with a more intense take which could have backfired badly also. But I am happy that people have resonated with this. I was quite worried, and was expecting a certain pushback from the audience. I was expecting comments like it is too bold, irrelevant, or this is not what happens in India. But even the older audience has been really positive about it.
Well, I also asked Ashim if at any point he was skeptical considering the boldness of the show, and the director shared…
I come from independent cinema, so even my first film Miss Lovely was about c-grade sex horror filmmakers. I have always been interested in the edgier side of our lives. The kind of stuff that interest me is not the bland stuff, even Netflix knew this when I came on board. Uncontrollable rich kids are really intense, they are not subtle, so I was quite confident with my vision. I have always believed that we have really disrespected our audience in this country, we always say they won’t like it, but I don’t think we can second guess them. The audience is evolving faster than the makers.
He further added,
A problem I always faced as a filmmaker working in India, even when I was making Miss Lovely I had to get finance from France or Japan, nobody would finance it in India. They would say the audience is not ready. But in the last decade the audience has caught up and the old Bollywood system has collapsed. People are now open to new stuff and great content. But you cannot alienate this audience, you have to let them in.
On working with such a fresh and new star cast Ashim explained…
This is my first series, I said no to a lot of series in the past because I never felt they were something that I could play with. When this came along, I saw the original Elite, but it wasn’t my vision of how a school like this would operate. I had a plotline already with this, so it really helped that it was an adaptation. I was not worried about the basics, but it wasn’t easy. I didn’t want anybody with a baggage, but yes they had to be moulded because when they came they were going in and out of the character, they would forget who they were. In real life they are very different, even though they might have come from similar socio-economic background, some of them are really rich kids, but sometimes they couldn’t stay in character.
Well, all is well that ends well, and while Ashim hasn’t thought about a season two yet, I would really want the story to move forward soon. In fact, I would like to see a lot more work from Ashim too.