Suhani’s dead body is discovered by the police at the start of Class episode 1. Dheeraj sits beside it in a state of no emotion. The cops interrogate Dheeraj, who is from a lower caste (Dheeraj Kumar Valmiki), and hence is treated viciously.
He starts narrating his past and the events leading up to the murder. He was admitted into Hampton International School in Delhi, the city’s most posh, expensive school. There was a fire in the Noorpur Khatola Government School where Dheeraj previously studied. The fire was due to the negligence of Ahuja Builders, who built the school. To avoid public scrutiny, they gave admission to all the students in different schools. Three from Noorpur were admitted into Hampton.
Along with Dheeraj, Saba Manzoor and Balram Patwal (aka Balli) join on their first day and are subjected to ridicule and disgust from the other rich students in their “class”. Saba is the topper from her previous school and challenges Yashika, the most brilliant student academically in Hampton, for the Hampton gold scholarship; their chance to study at a foreign university. Balli is handsome albeit uncouth and unapologetic in his ways. He is poor academically but crafty in other works. Dheeraj cleans tables at a restaurant at night. Suhani takes an interest in Dheeraj and Veer, her brother does not like it.
Their father is Suraj Ahuja of Ahuja Builders. The Ahujas do not approve of Suhani’s preferences. They warn her not to burn her hands again. Suraj asks Veer to invite the three students to the party that night. Suhani has turned into an addict due to constant abuse and a fragile mental state. Veer looks out for her but has a flailing temperament. We meet Neeraj, Dheeraj’s elder brother, who went to jail for protesting against Ahuja and Chowdhary, the local goon. At school, Balli tries to make an impression on the rich kids by showing his Instagram reels.
The girls ask him to dance shirtless and he takes the dare. Koel is impressed but Principal Vandana’s footsteps alert the students. For those who have difficulty following the large cast, here are the pairings of the students. Yashika and Veer are together; Sharan and Koel are together; and the others form their secondary friend circle. Saba has trouble adjusting. Her hijab is made fun of by other girls. Her father runs a tailoring shop that she also participates in. Saba’s brother Faruq manages accounts and deals drugs on the side. Dhruv is the son of Vandana and the swimming coach. His father is preparing him to become an athlete and compete professionally.
Balli takes Dhruv to Faruq and gets him high. From their encounter, it seems Faruq and Dhruv are interested in each other. Neeru talks about protesting against Ahuja with his mates. He belittles Dheeraj for going to the expensive school. The four go on a nightly sojourn and trespass into Ahuja’s house in a drunken state. They write “Ahuja is a thief” on the walls and escape. But don’t know that a CCTV camera has caught their footage. At the party, Suhani fraternises with Dheeraj. She takes him to a secret room where they all do drugs and alcohol.
Suraj Ahuja is the chairman of Ahuja Properties. Tarun Karla is Koel’s father and a partner with Suraj. Chowdhary is present on stage too when Suraj unveils plans for Ahuja Classique: a premium edutainment facility to be built in Khatola along with the rebuilding of the school. Suraj knows Dheeraj was there and has seen the footage. Saba slights Yashika for having sex in the parking lot (she saw him earlier in the school) when the latter days the Hampton Gold is hers. Balli eyes Koel on the dance floor. Dheeraj and Saba feel out of place at the party.
Koel dances with Balli. She was the one who left the panties in his locker in an attempt to woo him. Yashika is annoyed with Saba. She asks Veer to seduce Saba and expose her sex tape in front of everyone. Veer agrees in return for Yashika’s favours in the bedroom. Balli and Koel make out but Sharan catches them. Instead of doing anything, he watches them from afar. Suhani and Dheeraj dance together. But she is too drunk and falls. Veer goes after Suhani and Dheeraj but runs into Neeru. They have an argument and Neeru pushes Veer, who gets hurt. But they manage to escape. In the present, Dheeraj confesses he regrets coming to Hampton. If he might not have come, Suhani might have still been alive.
The Episode Review
Class is the official Indian remake of the Spanish series, Elite. When one compares the first episodes of both shows, it seems clear that the Indian makers have more than just “adapted” the material. Most of the details are copied from the Spanish series. Even how the characters look, talk, and walk seems too inspired to be called original. The writing just does not show enough wisdom and personality in the first episode.
It might be early days but Class’ opportunity to present itself as something unique might slip away soon. Indian creators have problematically remade foreign material, so much so that every detail is imitated. It will be heartening to see the upcoming episode reflect the uniqueness of the Indian setting and depict the class divide that is promisingly set up in the context of the story.
You can read our full season review for Class here!