INTERVIEW: New talent on the block Chintan Rachchh spills the tea on playing a young adult in crime-drama series Class

The Netflix show is directed by National Film Award winner Ashim Ahluwalia.
Chintan Rachchh
Chintan Rachchh

There has been no dearth of high-school themed series centred on the coming-of-age life of teenagers. From British comedy-drama Sex Education which opens the worldview of a bunch of kids to explore sexuality with percipience, American rom-com series Never Have I Ever where a teen wishes to elevate her social status, to American teen drama Gossip Girl revolving around the lives of privileged adolescents living in Manhattan’s Upper East Side — the list of such shows is exhaustive but barely had an Indian show in the genre. However, Netflix has come up with the first Indian teen thriller drama, Class, directed by National Film Award winner Ashim Ahluwalia. It is based on the superhit Spanish drama series Elite.

The series revolves around three students who come from humble backgrounds to join an upscale high school in Delhi where rumours, crime, secrets and felonious attitude runs rife on the campus. Expect the young adults in the show caught in a web of ideological clashes, class wars, clandestine relationships and betrayal — all of which cause emotional upheavals in their lives finally leading to a whodunnit plot. It features young and dynamic faces — Gurfateh Pirzada, Anjali Sivaraman, Ayesha Kanga, Chayan Chopra, Chintan Rachchh, Cwaayal Singh, Madhyama Segal, Moses Koul, Naina Bhan, Piyush Khati and Zeyn Shaw. As the series releases today, we chat with one of the lead characters Chintan, who plays a young lad Faruq Manzoor in this nail-biting drama. Chintan has been into many creative pursuits, from acting in theatre since school days, and scribbling poetry to now making an OTT debut with Class, he’s all over the place and is very excited to talk about his latest release. Excerpts from the interview: Tell us about your role in Class.

How did you land it?
In February 2020, I got to know about an audition which was for a show on the lives of young adults. Back then, we had Euphoria, 13 Reasons Why, and Riverdale, but not a single show in India on those lines. When I met the casting director, he explained to me the entire plot and my character and then gave me the liberty to play it out the way I want. The aim was to get a gist of how I enact the lines of Faruq, my character. Eventually, with India under lockdown, in August 2020 the production house reached out to me saying that the show-runner Ashim Ahluwalia liked my audition and they wanted to cast me for the role.

Were you able to relate with your character, Faruq?
I didn’t relate to a single attribute of Faruq. I had to work on a few things starting from vocals to grasping his posture, the external factors and finally understanding the psychology of the character. I wanted it to be very real and not superficial. The only part I relate to with Faruq is how he suppresses his feelings. And also his very rave fashion sense! (laughs)

What makes the series different from usual high school teen shows?
It’s not exactly a high school teen show, but rather a show on the lives of young adults — their struggles and impulsive nature. Class is the first-of-its-kind show in our country. It’s visually stunning and made in an Indian context which adds to the relatability factor.

Apart from acting, you also write poetry. What inspires your imagination?
I can’t speak my mind most of the time and that’s why I resort to poetry. I love this camouflage. Talking in metaphors makes my mind feel protected and at the same time, also helps me express myself to a certain extent.

Speaking of poetry, you’ve written a lot about romance. Why is that?
Honestly, I used to write a lot about love in 2018-20. Back then, I just thought this is the only genre I understand because of the content I watched and the books I read since childhood. Now I write more on existentialism and what's more to life than mundane experiences. I think that's the headspace I am in now.

Tell us about your interest in theatre.
When I started with theatre in Class 9, I felt liberated every single time I performed. I think it becomes an individual's second nature to perform when he or she starts this young. All of the bottled-up energy and suppressed emotions found a way to flow and to be expressed. As an individual, it made me a bit more comfortable with myself than I was before. In fact, I am more comfortable with myself as a performer than I am as a person, and I guess that conflict is bound to stay with me. I do strongly believe in the fact that the stage is my janmabhoomi (birthplace) and the set is my karmabhoomi (workplace).

How is Mumbai treating you? Any discoveries you made about the city's culture?
I come from a middle-class Gujarati family. To pursue acting in such a household is a task and it begins with a big ‘NO’ from your parents. (laughs) But eventually, my parents came to terms with what I wanted in life. Finally, I came to Mumbai in 2018 to pursue engineering and acting. I was always either in college or in Aram Nagar giving auditions, so I didn't have much time to explore Mumbai then. But in the past two years, I’ve explored the city with quite a zest. I love Borivali National Park. I go there every other week to cycle and just be me. It’s unlike the usual Mumbai.

Class releases today on Netflix. 
Twitter: @RanaPriyamvada

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