INTERVIEW | Cast of Amazon's Crash Course gives a lesson on unlearning and having fun in youthful days
Amazon Prime’s latest web series Crash Course asks us to not miss out on the joys of youth
The school-college drama genre has been commonly depicted in a wide range of movies, television shows and OTT series. Joining the club this time is Amazon Prime's latest web series Crash Course which follows the lives of students who come to study in Kota — India’s infamous coaching capital. If the reference reminds you of the hit TVF drama Kota Factory, then worry not as the showrunners have promised a unique storyline, fresh faces, a powerful script and Gully Boy famed actor and writer, Vijay Maurya in the director’s chair.
The show gives us a glimpse of Kota's competitive education business that is replete with egoistic clashes, power politics, and most importantly the concept of selling dreams at the cost of students’ mental peace, happiness, and personal growth. It navigates the theme of students’ lost innocence, fun, friendship, passion, ambition, and love as they are made to join the rat race and become the poster boys and girls of their respective coaching institutes. It brings to the fore talents like Annu Kapoor, Bhanu Uday, Pranay Pachauri and a young cast of Hetal Gada, Bhavesh Balchandani and Riddhi Kumar to name some. As we caught up with the stars, they gave us a ‘crash course’ on how the show projects a slice of life.
How is the show different from usual college-school dramas?
Bhanu: This show is about coaching institutes and everyone involved in its world — owners of the institutes, professors, teachers, students and others who have a stake in it. This world represents life in general where the viewer will feel like real incidents are unfolding in front of them. In terms of its strength, one has to credit the script and direction. Usually, when an actor is skimming the script, they are looking at the length of their part but since the writing was so pensive, I became a reader and thoroughly enjoyed the process. What sets the show apart from the rest is that, unlike other series which have primary and secondary characters, this show follows the life of 12 to 13 characters with equal interest.
How was the life of students at Kota observed?
Vijay: When I first went to Kota it was a place living in its own bubble, unbothered by the daily happenings of the world. The students studying in the coaching institutes were brilliant and focused. I knew observing their lifestyle was essential for the cast to pull off characters. So I took the cast on a 15-20 day workshop where we all noticed the life of students in Kota — how they keep up with the routines, what jokes they like to make, what their ambition is, and what they prioritise became the talking points to flesh out characters.
The show sees youth as a golden period. How do you relate to it?
Pranay: When we are in our school days, we never realise that the friendship we have is a real everlasting bond. There is no ulterior motive behind the companionship. The bond is so pure, the innocence unadulterated by the negativity of competition and life is stress-free. That makes it the golden period of our lives.
How similar are you to your onscreen roles?
Bhanu: The magic in an actor’s performance is created when their onscreen role is very different from their real persona but still, there is something that keeps you hooked to that character. That happened to me as I essayed the role of businessman Shashank Batra. As an actor, I got a lot of scope to improvise which made the character more layered and enjoyable for the audience.
Pranay: I play the role of a physics professor Ashutosh Kumar. As a kid, I used to love physics and even now I have a lot of interest in astrophysics and related fields. So I personally relate to my role. The moment you start having fun with the role is when the magic happens, and this is what happened with this character! Moreover, Vijay sir made our minds function in a way where we kept on adding more layers to the character leading to enhanced performances.
What is the message behind the show?
Vijay: People just have so much pressure while growing up, first with family, then through coaching institutes and society. Then they put themselves through rigorous strain to perform as per expectations. The show aims to portray how stress can leave young hearts disoriented and disheartened. The series encourages one to have fun and not worry much about outcomes and expectations.
Pranay: The series depicts that the existing education system needs to be cleaned up with unlearning. It asks viewers to quit this maddening chase for top scores or top money-making professions. It aims to show new vistas for self-discovery where students can feel mentally relaxed while absorbing knowledge and being nurtured in the education sphere.
Crash Course is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.