The Director of CLA$$ On Netflix Talks Exclusively to Dirty About Creating a Teenage Drama of Horrors, Hormones, and Heart Unique to Indian Sensibilities.


Meghna: How did the thought of an Indian adaptation of ‘Elite’ come up? What were the key differences to the original plot you thought were important to make while adapting ‘Elite’ for an Indian audience?

Ashim: I’ve wanted to make something about teenagers for a while, the strong, conflicted emotions you feel when you’re young. I could personally really relate to that struggle as I was kind of a rebellious, wild teenager myself.
It was just an accident that one day I was offered the Spanish series Elite for a possible adaptation. I had never done a series or even actually considered it. The original show is really different from the films I make, it felt more like a telenovela, but there was something really unique about the writing – the characters, and the class conflict felt very relevant to India. I wanted total freedom to make it my way, which Netflix seemed open to. I wanted the tale to be the same, but the telling to be completely different. I adapted the show through an Indian lens. Here other than class there is also caste – so that makes the conflicts more complex. The way families work, and their involvement in the children’s lives are very different from Spain, so the parents here play a much larger role than in the original. The way the ultra-wealthy work in India is also different, they can buy their way through most difficult situations, which raises the stakes in a drama. This is, of course, because there is also more corruption than in a European scenario. So, in the original, the investigation remains only in flashback, but here the cops are actually part of the crime story, in the sense that they are on the payroll of one of the wealthy parents. There are a lot of social and cultural differences like this, which make it something else altogether.