SOTY Review

"Student Of The Year 2" actors (L to R) Ananya Panday, Tiger Shroff and Tara Sutaria. Panday shines in her well-written role of the neglected child with a heart. (photo provided)

Fox Star Studios and Dharma Productions present “Student Of The Year 2”

Produced by: Hiroo Johar, Karan Johar & Apoorva Mehta

Directed by: Punit Malhotra

Written by: Arshad Syed & Paulomi Dutta

Music: R.D. Burman and Vishal-Shekhar

Starring: Tiger Shroff, Tara Sutaria, Ananya Panday, Aditya Seal, Manoj Pahwa, Harsh Beniwal, Ayesha Raza, Chetan Pandit, Manasi Joshi Roy, Rajveer Singh, Abhishek Bajaj and others. Sp. App: Alia Bhatt, Will Smith, Gul Panag, Samir Soni, Vishal Dadlani, Shekhar Ravjiani & Farah Khan

MUMBAI— If you are an undemanding audience, preferably young or very young, then “Student Of The Year 2” is for you. Never mind if, in essence, this is the kind of ’filmi’ story that was always set either in a small town or village in the ‘70s and ‘80s Hindi cinema with its tropes of a bad brother, his bad sister-turned-good, an underdog hero, a confused girlfriend, rivalry in some aspect and so on.

Over the decades, on the other hand, the “youthful college drama” has been modified with pop elements that are much more distinct and urbanized. It’s been a long journey from “Jawani Diwani” in 1972 to “Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander” and “Khiladi” two decades later, then to “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” in 1998 and “Student Of The Year” in 2012. The latter two were produced and helmed by this film’s producer Karan Johar.

The blending of these two genres is, at best, done in slightly garbled fashion here, and the calculated intention to appeal somehow removes a lot of the impact that could have been there.

Also, there is an attempt to blend too much: we have a sports competition at the forefront, with the same kind of predictable climax so common to sports movies (including biopics) that is, by now, no longer a cliffhanger. The underdog formula is common to all Tiger Shroff movies (beginning with “Baaghi”) and the impossible stunts he does look absurd because he is just a middle-class and teenage college student. The chasm between a typical Tiger vendetta actioner and a college triangular romance is narrowed to silly levels.

Rohan (Tiger) is the sports star in Pishorilal College, a “middle-class” institute. When his love Mridula (Tara Sutaria) joins the up-market St. Teresa’s, Rohan decides to try to seek admission in the expensive institution on a sports quota and succeeds. But he finds a subtle change in his girl, who now calls herself Mia and has global ambitions.

A chance encounter also leads to a spat with Shreya (Ananya Panday), the daughter of the college trustee (Chetan Pandit). Her brother Manav (Aditya Seal) is the star of the college and has won the ‘Student of the Year’ trophy for two consecutive years. Initially, Manav befriends Rohan, and Mia again starts reciprocating Rohan’s ardor, while Shreya makes things difficult for him.

Soon, Shreya and her brother win a dance competition against Mia and Rohan, and when Rohan wants to console Mia, he finds Mia, Shreya and Manav have staged everything together. Furious, he punches Manav, and the next day he is expelled. Manav even beats him. Rohan swears revenge.

In the second half, Shreya has a volte-face and gangs up with Rohan against her brother. Mia realizes her mistake too and comes back to him, who Shreya has now begun to love. No prizes for guessing that Rohan will take his revenge on Manav. Shreya decides to pursue music abroad. The triangle is resolved in the expectedly unexpected way.

The story needed attention at every point, and for starters, it is a bit difficult to stomach that a “Student of the Year” trophy is given by ANY college to the sports champ, that too, for one game. Hello, what about academics, and all-round excellence? In a snobbish institution (as shown) as St. Teresa’s (where are the missionaries running it?!), classes are given in both Hindi and English! We are in Mussoorie/Dehra Dun, and yet most of the lyrics are sung in Punjabi!

The most witty line in the film is where Rohan’s mother asks him, “Talent ko English mein kya kehte hain (What is the English word for ‘talent’)?” and he replies with a smile, “Hunar (the Urdu word for talent)!”, cleverly suggesting how much the usage of English has become a way of life for all of us!

We liked the later interaction between the two girls; the sequence where Shreya admits to playing dirty with Rohan over his friends; the sequence where Shreya shares her mother’s story with Rohan and cuts her birthday cake alone with just her dog; the scene where the trustee slaps his daughter in front of the principal and the ‘selfie’ sequence with the college watchman. But the OTT scenes between Rohan and the gym teacher (Gul Panag), the silly behaviors of the two principals in public in many sequences, and Rohan’s confused way of forgiving and then rebuking Mia speak of confused direction and writing.

Among the actors, Ananya Panday shines in her well-written role of the neglected child with a heart. Her expressions, maybe, can STILL be bettered, but she still carries the day with her body language and vocal inflections. Her large eyes help in what she is conveying. Tara Sutaria has a uni-dimensional role and does not get much scope for showing her acting chops.

Tiger should now go beyond cavorting, somersaulting and kicking and his hangdog expressions as underdog and the furious change that comes in him as he goes on a demolition spree. Aditya Seal reminds us of the classic college ruffians from the times of Prem Chopra to Vinod Khanna, Shatrughan Sinha, Manmohan, Gulshan Grover and company with his leering antics. No one from the supporting cast deserves any mention, and a formidable talent like Manoj Pahwa is wasted.

What also lift college campus movies is extraordinary music, but the songs here are atrocious to the extreme, and the lyrics one degree worse than the music. The much-touted “Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani” admittedly betters the rest but is badly mauled.

In all, this is the kind of fare that will strike lucky because of Tiger and his fans, and the undemanding audience that takes films like “Baaghi 2” and “Satyameva Jayate” to the skies because what is shown in them is new for today’s generation.

Rating: **1/2

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