Muhammad Asad Ullah
Nothing is excess for Karan Johar till it is all about beautiful people and expensive things – designer bags, labels and an attitude that can raze the wrath. Johar creates a quixotic world full of such content and high in emotions way too well. The world has moved on in the seven years since the phat college caper Student of The Year (2012) that launched the careers of Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan and Sidharth Malhotra and so has Johar and his filmmaking, for good. Where the first part of the franchise caterwauled glamour all along, even in the tiny bits, Karan has played sensibly with this one. Directed by Punit Malhotra, nothing seems too vacuous and over-designed, it’s all within the limits which is what holds the essence of the film. Loose ends? Yes – a bit, but come-on that’s with every other Bollywood entertainer. The actors in the follow-up, Student of the Year 2, are a fresh bunch led by Tiger Shroff paired with Ananya Panday and Tara Sutaria – millennial cast with a sexy appeal to their acting.
Much to the joy of SOTY fans like myself, we are happy to pronounce that the second edition is equally glossy and picture perfect. Rohan Sachdev played by Tiger Shroff and Manav Singhania, played by Aditya Seal, spend an entire academic year preparing for the prestigious Student of the Year Competition, that can merely be achieved by winning a Kabbadi match. The only thing which wasn’t really striking was, why a huge trophy in college without even a whiff of academics in general? I agree, in the first part there was all that pizzazz glamour and Hermes bags, but there was also an entire sound track which was about academics and doing well in the aptitude test to qualify to take part in Student of the Year Competition in the first place. Something that should have been included in this franchise as well. However, KJo did his bit of promoting the lesser popular sport. He infused a cool factor to the game with his players doing back flips and slow-mo jumps.
Manav Singhania is a rich brat, while Rohan is a middle-class scholarship student, who barely makes it to Saint Teresa, IVY school, on sports quota just for the sake of his girlfriend Mia, played by Tara Sutaria, to be closer to her. Like Rahul and Anjali in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, the story of Rohan and Mia’s love, friendship and falling out is a school legend. But the pretzel is the introduction of Manav in the love triangle at first, which fades away post intermission and you see a whole new love triangle in the making.
Where three fall apart, with well-done fight sequences, Shreya, played by Ananya, takes the screen space with Rohan and you know the rest. Ananya is Manav’s younger sister and in the first half of the film is presented as the spoiled mean girl. She’s the leading lady; carries Louis Vuitton bags and wears Dolce and Gabbana. She’s like Shanaya (Alia Bhatt from Student of the Year) but without the killer attitude. Shreya is substituting her lack of family ties with designer labels and snobbish setting. All three, Rohan, Mia and Shreya, might be emotionally damaged but their physical perfection is established with numerous shots. This is youth without awkwardness or vulnerability.
There are ‘two’ many love triangles. Too often, the storyline is swallowed up by the overwhelming gloss, perfect styling and set-piece songs. Drawing a parallel where the competition in first part was so silly and shallow that it was hard to take any of it seriously, but this time it is out-done. The Kabbadi sequences are well-shot and athletic in every sense.
Yet, Karan creates moments that are genuinely moving and humorous. Karan also deserves applause for putting his faith in new actors every time. He elicits commendable performances from his cast of debutants. Tara and Ananya’s brief is to be pouty and attractive, which they manage to do. And Tiger has evolved in appearance and acting and on big screen it’s a treat to watch him. Student of the Year 2 is a love story that traverses the trodden path (a high school romance). But KJo is an artisan with intellect and taste and he ensures that the script is spruced up and modernised with such elan that it doesn’t offend the spectator’s wisdom or intelligence. The accomplished director takes on familiar material and gives it an entirely new twirl.
Do not miss a second of the song Yeh Jawani to get a glimpse of Will Smith’s Bollywood cameo and also wait for the credits at the end of the film to see Alia Bhatt in a spooky hot item number – which is nothing but something haute all the way.
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