Film: Student of the year
Cast: Sidharth Malhotra, Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan, Rishi Kapoor and Ronit Roy
Director: Karan Johar
A Harry Potter locale, Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na-style storytelling, the melodious styling of High School Musical, inspiration from Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar and the typical Johar drama, that's Student of the Year. Despite being an uncanny mix of all these characterstics, K Jo manages to hold your attention throughout the film.
SOTY is set in St Teresa’s High School (St T’s as they call it) in Dehradun, the most reputed school in the country, where students either come from a filthy rich background, or are on scholarship – the Tatas and the Batas, they say. Here kids either drive a Ferrari or stylish bikes; girls don miniskirts, designer clothes and are dressed well enough for a party each day; and flirting, dating, break ups, patch ups are all a part of their normal life. But every year, the students compete for one competition with all their might – Student of the year.
Rohan Nanda (Varun Dhawan) is a typical spoilt kid. His father is the biggest business tycoon in the country and is a trustee of St. T’s. Shanaya Singhania (Alia Bhatt) is a glamorous but innocent young girl who has only fashion designers on her mind and comes from a broken home. Rohan and Shanaya are childhood sweethearts. Shanaya loves attention, and Rohan gives her just what she wants. But she is quite aware of his flirtatious behaviour. Life is perfect till Abhimanyu Singh (Malhotra) enters their world with an entry like that of Hrithik Roshan in K3G (remember Deewana Hai Dekho?). No, he’s not as rich…he is an orphan who is in St. T’s on a sports scholarship. Of course the popular rich brat has ego clashes with this small town boy, but they land up becoming best friends till love tears them apart.
Rohan and Abhimanyu are inseparable as they confide in each other, their deepest secrets. While both suffer when it comes to family matters, they are the most popular students of St T’s. Abhimanyu and Shanaya fall for each other, and hell breaks loose, all this, while they compete for Student of the year title with vigour.
SOTY is not a new story – two boys fall for one girl and compete for one trophy. The characters are archetypal – a rich brat becomes friends with a bechara garib boy and in between is the K3G’s naive Poo-type blonde. It’s the presentation that attracts you and the stellar performances that grab your attention. One thing is clear – it is not a realistic script. Then again, the filmmakers of SOTY never promised it would be one, unlike other filmmakers these days.
K Jo has done a marvelous job when it comes to grooming these three debutants in their acting skills. Though Alia has very little role to play, with all the attention on the leading boys. She leaves a mark with her glamorous presence. K Jo does a fab job in presenting her as a doll. Varun shines throughout the movie with a very a resilient performance. His dancing skills are commendable. Malhotra too has done an extremely good job and his presence is strongly felt throughout the film.
The other characters are a treat to watch. Rishi Kapoor steals the show as a happy and gay (literally) principle of St T’s. He has once again proved that he is not just a brilliant actor, but a versatile artist. Others like Ronit Roy, Ram Kapoor and Farida Jalal are established performers and have done justice to their roles.
Karan Johar’s direction is commendable, as always. Yet it fails to bring anything new to the movie. The entire film has K Jo’s trademarks which makes it more or less like a combination of all his previous films. Ayananka Bose’s cinematography blends well with the larger-than-life setting. The editing is smooth.
The songs are the high points of the film. Alia’s introduction with Gulabi aankhein and other songs like Yeh chaand sa roshan chehra, Radha, Disco deewane are all chart busters. Vishal-Shekhar deserve a a plaudits for these foot-tapping numbers. The choreography of each number is quite admirable. Ishq Wala Love, the romantic track has excellent music, but could’ve been better if the lyrics made any sense.
All in all, SOTY is not something you would want to miss if the surreal setting with bubble gum romance is your calling. The performances make this film a great watch. It’s a treat for all K Jo fans and if you didn’t really enjoy Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, K3G and other such films by the director, you can easily skip this one.
Spoiler alert: Watch out for the Amar Singh look-alike who tells his son “you can either be rich, or a chamcha”.