RejctX – An edgy, fast-paced thriller, brimming with teenaged angst
The flourishing Indian digital space has burgeoned into a prodigious reality in recent times. The OTT space is witness to the release of an impressive assortment of shows that straddle diverse genres and remarkable storylines.
Amidst the triumphant tumult, however, if there is one genre that is woefully unrepresented in the Indian storytelling space, it is a show worthy of the current gen-next, inarguably the most advanced and smartest generation in the history of civilization. Where are the home-grown 13 Reasons Whys, Stranger Things and Sex Educations that the young Indian adult can watch and revel in, with a sense of belonging and relating?
The answer lies in RejctX, the latest web series streaming on Zee5. Conceived, created, directed and co-written by maverick filmmaker Goldie Behl, RejctX is India’s answer to High School Musical, Pitch Perfect, Mean Girls and other Hollywood churn-outs of similar ilk.
RejctX is a 10-episode web series streaming on Zee5, produced by Goldie Behl and his production company Rose Audio Visuals, in collaboration with co-producers, SohamRockstar Entertainment. It is a show that encapsulates everything that being a teenager stands for in today’s world. It dives headlong into the gauche world inhabited by the youth, showcasing teenaged angst, juvenile insecurities, sexual identities, adolescent crushes and adolescent rivalries in a categorical, no-holds-barred style.
In doing so, it pulls us, the audience, along into the whimsical realm of the young. In watching RejctX, we get a ringside view of the trials and travails that being an adolescent in today’s competitive times entail. And as if being a growing teenager in unsympathetic environs isn’t difficult enough, the narrative is interspersed with poignant emotional sub-stories, rife with stress, sorrow and serendipity.
The show boasts a dream ensemble cast, featuring a mix of newbies with some of the best actors in the digital realm today. Sumeet Vyas, KubbraSait, Khalid Siddiqui, Anisha Victor, Ahmed Masi Wali, Ridhi Khakhar, Pooja Shetty, Saadhika Syal, Prabhneet Singh and Ayush Khurrana play key roles in the series.
The narrative is set in an elite Singapore school, the Jefferson World School, a school that hosts kids from all over the world. At its heart, the show is about a bunch of poor little rich kids who meet and band together at the school, each grappling with emotional demons within. In a way, each of them is a pariah – a social reject. Hence, the name of the show –RejctX.
Aarav Sharma (Masi Wali), is the son of a prominent politician (Khalid Siddiqui) from Delhi. His father considers him a good-for-nothing and treats him like crap. Kiara Tewary (Anisha Victor) is a bright and brilliant computer whiz, but for her parents, she is just their calling card to social upward mobility. Her parents have groomed her for just one thing – being a worthy bride to Aarav, her intelligence and flair for coding be damned.
Maddy (Ayush Khurrana), Misha (Pooja Shetty), Parnomita (Ridhi Khakhar) and Sehmat (Saadhika Syal) are fighting their own demons within, concerning sexual identities, reckless activities and ignominious pasts. Vice-principal Hussain (Sumeet Vyas) is saddled with the unenviable task of keeping the Jefferson World School flock sheltered and out of harm’s way – a herculean task, what with rampant adolescent hormones threatening to get the better of his students. There’s something quite shady about the guy, though. Most times he’s caring and considerate, but around Aarav, he turns mean and sarcastic as hell. Quite like Snape is with Harry in the initial instalments of the Harry Potter franchise.
The dominant theme of the show is music. It is a musical thriller, after all. The rejects gang up to form a band which belts out punchy, angst-laden rap and gears up to participate in the illicit underground rap scene. But on the night of the final countdown, Aarav disappears, turning the narrative on its head. In fact, the series begins with a hair-raising sequence concerning Aarav’s disappearance.
Has Aarav been murdered, kidnapped, or, as his dad claims, is in Delhi, by the bedside of his comatose mom? No one knows; and everyone gives ambiguous statements, such as Aarav’s life is in danger, and more along the same lines. The mystery deepens, with quite a few skeletons tumbling out of multiple closets.
What works in the show’s favour is the tight editing, fast pace and high production quality. The show has been mounted on a lavish scale, and it shows in the sets, the cast and the quality of production. The story, co-written by Novoneel Chakraborty and Goldie Behl, is highly absorbing. The storyline is edgy, dark and different. Bitch code, bro code, youth code, whatever code it is, the writing gets it bang on target, rendering it highly appealing to youngsters.
What doesn’t work, however, is the constant flitting between past and present. It is tiresome and frankly irritating. We have a hard time determining whether the on-going sequence is pre Aarav’s disappearance or post; until the past and present begin to blur into an incomprehensible hodgepodge.
Another red flag is Kubbra Sait’s character. Ms Anushka (KubbraSait) is the pretty student counsellor of the school, charged with taking care of the emotional well-being of the students. The character is quite contrarian. Her moral fibre, or lack thereof, allows her to hit on the young, impressionable Aarav; she flirts with him, makes out with him and – wait for it – even makes love with him. Gosh, if this is what student counsellors have come to, God alone can save the kids from depravity.
Regarding the acting, the entire cast has given an above average performance, though Sumeet Vyas, Anisha Victor and Ayush Khurrana are a cut above the rest. Anisha’s is especially good, delivering a measured, realistic portrayal of a geeky girl, subjected to body-shaming in her growing up years.
The series features copious amounts of sex, of all hues and flavours, and quite explicit too (by Indian standards) – blow jobs, lesbian sex, forced sex, just-for-kicks sex, older-woman-seducing-adolescent sex – you name it, RejctX has it. And to think that the show is about kids who’ve just entered high school. Brrr, it gives us the shivers just to contemplate the shocking scenario.
That said, RejctX is an edgy, fast-paced thriller-cum-mystery; as edgy as its name is. It is captivating enough to make you want to watch the entire show in one go. Sadly, only 4 episodes have been released yet, with two episodes streaming every Friday. The show brims with teenaged angst, reminding us of the Imagine Dragons number, which could very well be the anthem of every teenager featured in the show – “Don’t get too close, it’s dark inside, it’s where my demons hide, it’s where my demons hide…….”
Meanwhile, 3/5 is our rating for RejctX.