Cast: Tiger Shroff, Ananya Panday, Tara Sutaria, Aditya Seal and Samir Soni
Director: Punit Malhotra
Rating: 3.5 Stars (out of 5)
The world has moved on in the seven years since the kitschy college caper Student Of The Year launched the careers of Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan and Sidharth Malhotra. The actors in the follow-up are a fresh bunch led by Tiger Shroff, but the concoction is firmly rooted in the past. It is exasperatingly stale and unabashedly trashier. Student Of The Year 2 is so last decade in its thinking and packaging that sitting through it is akin to straying into a Bollywood time warp.
The film is bookended by a harping on a ‘schoolwala love‘ between the hero and one of the female protagonists – is this progression or regression from the ishq wala love syndrome? – and a Hook-up song (with Alia) that plays along with the closing credits – a variation on the ‘break-up song’ from another Karan Johar production. Like its predecessor, Student Of The Year 2 rides on peppy party numbers, rough-and-ready retro remixes and a plot that revels in unapologetic puerility. There isn’t a single moment in the film that could be described as passable. It sets the bar very low and makes no attempt to hide that fact.
The Dharma Productions sheen is all that the film boasts. The rest of it is mere flashy, garish festooning that is torn to shreds before the film is a quarter of the way into its runtime. Plenty of sports action (some on the athletics track, a bit in a long jump pit, and most of it on the kabaddi court) and a couple of fight sequences are thrown into the hackneyed mix, but nothing can lift this gossamer bauble of a movie out of its unwavering commitment to mediocrity.
Student Of The Year 2, directed by Punit Malhotra, is an egregiously escapist campus-rumpus musical in which nattily attired, unbelievably idle boys and skimpily clad girls (none of whom looks like a college student remotely interested in attending classes and making academic progress) play games that make as much sense as a camel race on an airport tarmac. No wonder, the film never takes off.
A super-talented boy from a downmarket institution – it is called Pishorimal Chamanlal College – aspires for admission into hallowed Saint Teresa, where kids of the rich and powerful go to while away their time. Studies are the last thing on their minds. So, it is rather hard to fathom why on earth Rohan Sachdev (Tiger Shroff), a Mussoorie astrologer’s son, wants to be part of a set-up where students sing, dance, run and bicker through the day without a care in the world.
The plot gives us the most superficial of reasons for Rohan’s ambition – his girlfriend since primary school, Mridula ‘Mia’ Chawla (debutante Tara Sutaria), is enrolled there. But when Rohan does land a sports quota seat in Saint Teresa, his first encounter is with spoilt brat Shreya Randhawa (first-timer Ananya Panday). On the dance stage, he shows her up and she takes the humiliation to heart.
Tiger Shroff plays down his action hero persona a tad and slips into the garb of a lover boy, livewire sprinter, kabbadi champ and dance freak all rolled into one. The middle-class underdog’s arrival in the upscale college in Dehradun inevitably sets the cat among the pigeons. The two girls compete for his attention, each in her own way.
Tiger Shroff’s character, is, to begin with, an outsider in the ritzy environs of the college. As he buckles down to the task of fitting in, bullies get in his way and stop him in his tracks. To make a comeback, he must prove his worth beyond doubt. The character trajectory is clear: he is a boy who wants to be a class apart, which isn’t a problem because it is a given for the hero of a college drama of this nature, but owing to the way the role is envisioned and fleshed out, the actor is hopelessly trapped in an absolutely predictable arc.
The two newbies opposite the lead actor, Tara Sutaria (whose motivations are never entirely clear; she is, as one character says of her, a shuttlecock) and Ananya Panday (as a neglected rich girl thirsting for true love) are enthusiastic enough and sway energetically to the uninspiring beat of the film, but they do not as yet have the chops to add their own individual rhythms to the pulpy drama. Aditya Seal is impressive as the suave, unbending campus bully, but he, too, has to pay the price for what is the biggest undoing of this half-baked film – sloppy writing.
Rohan also has to contend with a hard-knuckled rival, Manav Singh Randhawa (Aditya Seal), Shreya’s brother and the son of a college trustee, who challenges him at every step of the contest for the Student of the Year title, often very violently. “Din tera thha, saal mera hoga(The Day was yours, the year will be mine,” Rohan keeps intoning. Not surprising at all. The competition is for something called the Dignity Cup, which gives the boys of Pishorimal a chance to teach the Saint Teresa team captained by Manav a lesson or two. Obviously, it is Rohan, a guy who has a personal score to settle, who takes the lead in bridging the class divide.
This is brainlessly breezy fare wrapped in gloss that wears off quickly. It is appalling that such drivel is being palmed off as entertainment meant for the teen market. Even more dispiriting is the worry that there are enough takers out there for a film such as this who might be willing to shell out money to watch the story of a college where boys and girls strut around like models and MMA fighters and the principal (Samir Soni) and a sports coach (Gul Panag) think nothing of making a sorry spectacle of themselves.
The film blows hot and cold through two and a half hours of unmitigated fluff. Beautiful bods and cool musical acts are poor recompense for the sheer lack of substance. The characters are poorly written. Not one of them is capable of an act or an idea that could be taken with the kind of seriousness that could lend the storyline a semblance of depth.