Movie Review: STUDENT OF THE YEAR by FENIL SETA
There’s large kid and teen population in India and unlike many other countries, cinema in India (esp Bollywood) fails to churn films for them regularly. Just like there’s a dearth of animated and children films, likewise there are very few films one can recall that has the under-25 as the target audience. In such times, Student Of The Year comes as a breath of fresh air. It boasts of three new exciting faces, all young, looks visually stunning, has catchy tracks and most importantly, it’s made by one of the premiere production house of Bollywood (Dharma Productions). Taking newcomers as protagonists could be a risky proposition. But the efforts seem to have paid off! The debutants – Varun Dhawan, Sidharth Malhotra and Alia Bhatt – became the new heartthrobs of the nation while the movie turned out to be a total timepass fare!
The story of the movie: Rohan Nanda (Varun Dhawan) is the most popular guy in St. Theresa’s High School, Dehradun – India’s premiere academic institution. But he’s confused about his relationship status with Shanaya Singhania (Alia Bhatt). Enter Abhimanyu Singh (Sidharth Malhotra). After a shaky start, Rohan and Abhimanyu become the best of buddies. At this point of time, Dean Yogendra Vasisht (Rishi Kapoor) throws open the much-awaited ‘Student Of The Year’ competition. Abhimanyu comes from a middle-class background and wants to achieve dizzying heights and feels that winning the ‘Student Of The Year’ can be a great start. On the other hand, Rohan is the son of the business tycoon Ashok Nanda (Ram Kapoor) and both can’t see eye-to-eye. For him, winning ‘Student Of The Year’ competition will help him prove his worth to his dad. While all is going great, the competitive streak and love matters complicate things between Rohan, Shanaya and Abhimanyu. Who’ll be the ultimate winner?
Student Of The Year, as promos suggested, takes you to an unreal world. The school campus, life of students on and off school premises, the manner in which they had chiseled bodies and the kind of clothes they wore – it was far from reality. But who cares! The film provided lots of entertainment and that’s what matters. Also, though the setting is unreal, the characters are very real and so are their problems, dreams and desires.
The film has a great fabulous start and the entire hospital scene involving four supporting actors was too good. Film gets better as the flashback portions commence. The three protagonists are introduced in a novel manner (esp Shanaya). One enjoys the initial friction between the boys and their friendship phase as well. The Thailand portions were entertaining and the intermission point was brilliant to say the least. In short, first half was marvelous! The second hour commences well (the treasure hunt scene was quite exciting) but things slide down downhill soon after ‘Ishq Wala Love’ song. The final triathlon competition and the sequence thereafter had its moments but somehow didn’t seem that exciting. Also, the finale of the film – when the flashback ends – was least unconvincing and the two actors who are shown as pati-patni seemed damn fake! And it’s this final moments of the film that act as a big spoiler.
Both the guys – Varun Dhawan and Sidharth Malhotra – had a dream debut and they have ensured that they made the best out of it. Varun has the ultimate chocolate and bad boy looks as well and terrific dialogue delivery. Same goes for Sidharth who had a tough role to portray but shines! Both are undoubtedly talented and one hope they sign well-scripted films…they deserve to stay here after all! Alia Bhatt looks stunning but in the battle between the boys, gets sidelined in many portions. In fact, in the first half, her character gets into focus only during the Thailand scene. She’s one of the big reasons why the guys fight but still can’t be counted as a ‘protagonist’! Shocking but true! Performance-wise, she was first-rate though. Hope to see her in better roles in future!
Rishi Kapoor was terrific as the dean and his mannerisms and the way he asks ‘What do you know?’ is damn good! Ronit Roy (Coach Karan Shah) as always provides able support. Ram Kapoor was in top form. Farida Jalal (Abhimanyu’s grandmother) leaves a mark. The five buddies of the trio – Sana Saeed (Tanya Asrani), Shruti Pathak (Manasi Rachh), SuDo (Kayoze Irani), Jeet (Sahil Anand) and Dippy (Manjot Singh) shine in their respective roles. Kayoze was exceptional in the end, Dippy and Jeet provide lot of laughs while Sana was sizzling! Watch out for the Kuch Kuch Hota Hai girl! Other actors – Gautami Kapoor (Rohan’s mother), Prachi Shah (Karan Shah’s wife) and Akshay Anand-Manini De (Abhimanyu’s foster parents) – were okay in their small roles. Kajol looks awesome in Disco Deewane song.
Vishal-Shekhar’s music is already topping the charts and is neatly incorporated in the film. Vele is the best and Ishq Wala Love is beautifully shot. Radha, Disco Deewane, Kukkad and Ratta Maar too are energetic and peppy. The duo’s background score create a huge impact. Ayananka Bose‘ cinematography is flawless. Costumes (Manish Malhotra) were top-class. Choreography made the songs all the more exciting. Sets were exceptional and made St Theresa’s a school you wished you had studied in! Mention should also be made for the Sports Director (Rob Miller) since the sports scenes were too good and in a way, the most exciting portions of the film.
Niranjan Iyengar’s dialogues were quite witty and hilarious…there’s something in every line spoken in the film! Too good! Rensil D’Silva’s screenplay was taut and engaging. Finally, Karan Johar’s direction, as expected, had meat. He’s a master director and he has proved so with his directorial ventures in the past. But what happened to him in the end? He just lost steam towards the climax. The finale seemed hurried and just not right for the film that was built up so beautifully. If only this huge flaw was taken care of, Student Of The Year would had been one of the most exciting school/college-based Hindi films of all times!
Some of the best scenes:
1. SuDo gets a call and reaches hospital
2. Rohan-Shanaya-Abhimanyu’s entry
3. Rohan-Abhimanyu fight over parking space
4. St. Theresa wins against St. Lawrence
5. Abhimanyu meets Rohan’s dad
6. The songs Vele, Radha, Ishq Wala Love
7. The intermission sequence (Karan Johar at his best!)
8. The treasure-hunt competition (interesting!)
9. The hospital sequence
10. The triathlon
On the whole, Student Of The Year is a feel-good entertainer. One does feel surprised by the unreal setting of the school in the initial portions. But then, you’re like ‘Tel lene jaaye yaar’! The film’s entertaining and that’s what matters’! Varun-Sidharth-Alia deliver fine performances, sets are amazing, music foot-tapping and films boasts of loads of exciting and entertaining moments. But the climax is so bad that it spoils the show. Yet, it’s surely a one-time watch and must for youngsters. Go for it…this is a film for US!
My rating- *** out of 5!