When I say I want a good, desi, high school drama, I do not mean Karan Johar directing another Student Of The Year with some new, hot-shot celebrity kids. I mean a brilliant show like Sex Education or Atypical. Take even the fluffy Never Have I Ever as inspiration, but don’t you dare release SOTY3 and try to sell it to me as authentic.
After watching years of great content, thanks to the OTT boom, we are at a much more advanced level as an audience than ever before. No longer can we be parcelled the same-old sexist, patriarchal tropes in new packages. We need real, we need relatable.
Which is one of the reasons why I feel that Indian viewers are being deprived of a high school show that can match the kind of storytelling seen internationally. Don’t get me wrong, there are multiple binge-worthy OTT shows about college—engineering college, art college, MBA college—but hardly anything about the unique desi school experience. Yeh sab se we’re not satisfied, TBH.
Hollywood High Schools
We’ve grown up watching (and wishing) we were in the American school system, just for the fun on screen. Lockers, prom nights, casual dressing? Sign me up! However, while our realities were starkly different, we digested this Western format unequivocally. Even more recent shows and movies like 13 Reasons Why, The Kissing Booth and Elite all add to the already overpopulated genre.
A quick search of American high school dramas will yield more results than you’d anticipate. However, do the same with an Indian tag and the results glare back at you, emptily. Why isn’t anyone taking up this project? The story will practically write itself.
The Unique Desi Experience
In India, the urban school landscape is an interesting mix. While PDA is harshly prohibited, boys having a fight in the middle of the school grounds is still reluctantly tolerated. We didn’t kiss our ‘first boyfriends’ and sex was a scandal no one wanted.
We’d eat our favourite canteen-wala Maggi and awkwardly stare at the hottest boys with our friends, too shy to make a move. Neither did we have a special annual prom night like in every, every American high school movie ever made. Instead, our exams were the bane of our existence and we spent equivalent hours in tuition classes. How can you not make a show on this?
The last time there was a desi high school show, we were back in 2004, watching Remix on Star One. Or it’s 1998 and Hip Hip Hurray! is on Zee TV. Yet, almost two decades later with a Wi-Fi connection stronger than ever, here we are. If any of the big production houses are reading this, take notes because I can smell success!
Lead image credit: Dharma Productions