Puncch Beat review: This school drama will remind you of Student of the Year
Creators: Vikas Gupta
Cast: Priyank Sharma, Siddharth Sharma, Harshita Gaur, Khushi Joshi, Samir Soni
If Puncch Beat, ALT Balaji’s new web series, is targeting millennials and their angst – it ticks all the right boxes. There are wealthy dysfunctional families, manic pixie school girls and schoolboys who consider gym their spiritual home, ergo enough sculpted bodies.
Logic, of course, takes a beating for there are no real classes in the fictional school world of Puncch Beat. Students do carry books around like a fashionable accessory but are rarely seen using them. The school, however, is as posh as it gets with world class facilities for boxing, horse-riding, painting and what not.
So, if this reminds you of Karan Johar’s Student of the Year, you are not the only one. And that is perhaps not the only film Puncch Beat gives a nod to, there is a scene involving a boy running around the school naked that makes you think American Pie. A scene on the school terrace will make you think of Shah Rukh Khan’s Main Hoon Na.
Having established that there are enough references, the film it is closest to remains the Varun Dhawan, Sidharth Malhotra, Alia Bhatt debut – in both tone and treatment.
Puncch Beat’s two leads Raahat (Priyank Sharma) and Ranbir Chaudhary (Siddharth Sharma) look as buffed and toned while Ranbir’s girlfriend (Khushi Joshi, the Cadbury girl) is as big a stunner on screen as Alia. Not to force a point, Ranbir plays the school trustee’s (Samir Soni) son and the actor has more than a passing resemblance with Varun.
However, from here on, the show’s story kicks in. The episodes are roughly 15-30 minutes in length and offer enough frothy entertainment to keep you hooked. Directed by Suyash Vadhavkar, Puncch Beat is populated by flawed characters, with some of them finding redemption as the show progresses. He also knows how to keep his viewers hooked – the second episode is titled ‘The Sunny Leone project’, for instance.
The show pits Raahat against Ranbir. While Priyank’s Raahat is an illegitimate child who is yearning to be accepted by his family, Siddharth’s Ranbir – his half brother – wants nothing to do with him. Samir plays their dad who goes out of his way to hurt Raahat but his wife – school principal (played by Niki Walia) – is in Raahat’s corner.
Show’s female leads are two sisters, played by Harshita Gaur and Síndhuja Turlapatí who live with disciplinarian aunt and are ready to rebel. With Puncch Beat’s episodes full of intrigue, revenge and an unexpected kiss, there’s nary a moment to get bored as long as you keep expectations in check.
The 13-episode series ends with a promise of a sequel. Perhaps that will focus on content all its own and not a Bollywood cut-paste job.
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