Student Of The Year is a fun film with a great music score, awesome visuals, mint-fresh-n-funny dialogues and super debuts from the three youngsters Alia Bhatt, Siddharth Malhotra and Varun Dhawan. Yes Make-Believe is the formula and as a viewer I didn't try and decode the 'unreal' setting . Thankfully, the melodrama and preachiness is on the lower side. The duration of the film is a bit generous and it could have been tighter for sure.
The film has some reference points from earlier movies and no they are not straight lifts. The idea that one should follow one's heart while making career choices is an inspiration from 3 Idiots and Kayoze Irani (Boman Irani's son) gives a superb speech on the undue and unjust competition that youngsters are forced into. The economic gradations that were clearly set in Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar are also the benchmarks here too (Although, the poor in SOTY look cooler than the December chill in a London village). The structure of story telling reminds you of Dil Chahta Hai where the old friends reunite and how their differences get sorted.
The wonderful catalyst of SOTY are its effervescent dialogues (Niranjajn Iyengar). The interactions between Abhimanyu (Siddharth Malhotra) and Rohan (Varun Dhawan) reek of a close bonding. They are consistently given fun lines and both react very well, making the viewer experience complete. As Abhi and Rohan get emotional about their respective family lives, Abhi tells Rohan, "Ab kiss to nahin karega na." Both crack up and so does the audience. Shanaya (Alia Bhatt) cuts short the smart-ass Tanya with her witty one liners too. Dean Vashisht (Rishi Kapoor) is a happy-n-'gay' sport who dotes on Coach (Ronit Roy). He too has some funny lines without turning corny.
The basic story idea is simplistic and predictable. It is primarily meant for the young audience and the ones who would like to go back down their college and school memories. The musical introductions of the three principle actors sets up the entertaining precedent. After the initial friction, the football match brings the boys together. The rich guy doesn't pay much attention to his girlfriend and the tried-n-tested make-him-jealous routine, courtesy the best friend, results in all three singing 'Ishq Wala Love' amidst the Kashmir snow while the three-cornered-love-affair-fire is burning bright. The Student Of The Year trophy is up for grabs and the emphasis is as much on extra curricular activities as on academics. The Treasure Hunt looks childish to start with, but turns out to be a lot of fun.
Now, what gives an extra push to Student Of The Year is the entire packaging. The classy camerawork by Ayananka Bose is spellbinding. Vishal Shekhar's music and background score is a big plus point. The Disco Song, Radha, Ishq Wala Love, Velle and Ratta Maar are a treat. Choreography by Farah Khan, Bosco-. Caeser and Remo is top notch. Karan Johar has choreographed Ratta Maar. Deepa Bhatia's editing relies on simple cuts and the film flows well. Yes, it could have been slightly tighter. Manish Malhotra and Shiraz Siddiqui's clothes are a big USP of the film. Alia has worn some dream outfits, which the college crowd will surely try and emulate.
Siddharth Malhotra has a natural charm and is very good looking. His James Dean like looks are complimented by a solid grasp over the acting grammar. His expressions during funny, despondent, chivalrous or romantic moods are bang on. Varun Dhawan is a great looker too. He works very hard on his physique and dancing with favourable results. As an actor, he has a style of his own. Alia Bhatt looks pretty and holds her own in a boys film. She is a fine, confident actress and will surely grow by leaps and bounds. This Bhatt girl gracefully carries off seductive bikini moves along with a kiss in her very first film.
Director Karan Johar is clearly enjoying himself amidst lavish song schedules, the trademark shaadi sequence and the traditional Radha number is as much a tribute to his own as well as the Sooraj Barjatya, Aditya Chopra brand of cinema. Student Of The Year may not be the best film of the year but it is surely one of the most entertaining. Have a good time guys.
Star Rating: *** 1/2 stars