Take a cauldron. Mix in ‘Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire’ in generous doses, the essence of ‘Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na’, few minutes of some other films set in schools, and add a dash of ‘3 Idiots’ for flavour. What you have is Karan Johar’s latest offering, ‘Student Of The Year’. The director’s latest offering justifies, to the last bit, the adage - ‘all that glitters is not gold’.
Set in the picturesque locales of Dehradun, more precisely, in the Forest Research Institute and Kasiga School, ‘Student Of The Year’ has every element of a Karan Johar school/college film. Beautiful surroundings; the fluff of snobbish, brand-obsessed people; few nerds – one of them bespectacled, inevitably; a Dean who just doesn’t understand the values of friendship and camaraderie and so on. You ask for it, and you get it. No stone is left unturned in leaving a large, bold Karan Johar signature on the film.
St. Teressa’s School is one of the best schools in the country. Students here, every year, have their eyes and goals set on only one end – the Student of the Year Trophy. A bespectacled Kayoze Irani narrates the story of St. T’s ten years after their batch dissipated from the school, and now gathered at the deathbed of their Dean, Yoginder Vashisht (Rishi Kapoor). The run for the Student of the Year trophy, ten years back, was one that was nothing short of a live-or-die competition for the inmates of St. T’s. However, no matter how much the posters of the film shout out, it certainly is no ‘competition for life’. Sigh.
Cut to Rohan Nanda. The filthy rich guy who drives around in a Ferrari at times and Merc convertible at others. The business tycoon’s son who has his chelas all in place. Ro is the boy every girl in the school seems to have set an eye upon and the flirtation skills of Nanda range from light touching at times to receiving a massage on the beach at others. Rohan’s complex relationship with his father, Ashok Nanda (Ram Kapoor) is one to watch out for. There certainly are moments which can be termed moderately moving, if not intensely so.
Alia Bhatt, as the girl whose each hour of the day is dominated by thoughts of whether to carry a Louis Vuitton bag or to strut around in Jimmy Choos, does a remarkable job of playing Shanaya Singhania. Shanaya and Rohan are the couple everybody looks up to in the school. Tanya Israni (Sana Saeed: Yes, that same Anjali who played SRK and Rani Mukerji’s daughter in ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’), is the biggest haddi in the kabaab of Rohan-Shanaya’s relationship. However, Shanaya and Rohan, as the former’s best friend Shruti (Mansi Rachh) puts tritely in one line, are a couple whose match had been made not by rabb, but by amiron ki club.
So far so good. Enter Abhimanyu Singh (Siddharth Malhotra) and the order of the universe stands disrupted, and badly so. Owner of a six-pack abdomen and some solid potential, Siddharth Malhotra is one of the new entrants to watch out for. Malhotra essays the role of Abhi with élan. From friends to enemies, Rohan and Abhi traverse an emotional journey. And with Shanaya as the rope in the tug-of-war between the hearts of the two, the triangular love story isn’t all that bad – but hasn’t got anything much that’s unpredictable, either.
The impressive auxiliary apparatus of the film, one that includes actors like Ram Kapoor, Ronit Roy, Farida Jalal and Boman Irani in special appearances, Sushma Seth and Rishi Kapoor, is really worth applause. Rishi Kapoor, in a homosexual avatar, yet again proves that he is an actor who can do justice to any role meted out to him. Nursing the hots for the coach of St. T’s, Ronit Roy, Rishi Kapoor portrays on screen, a colourful-at-times-irate-at-others patriarch who doesn’t compromise on the ethics of his school, come what may. Ronit Roy looks exceptionally fit and well – hot – as the coach of the school, and plays his part with amazing brilliance. Ram Kapoor’s Ashok Nanda reiterates the story of a rich father-who-doesn’t-have-any-respect-for-his-son’s-dreams, and he plays it well.
Foot-tapping remixes of songs like ‘Gulabi aankhen’, ‘Yeh chand sa roshan chehra’, ‘Disco deewane’ will sure let musician duo Vishal-Shekhar stay at the top of the music charts for a considerable period of time. ‘Radha’, again, is one number that is on its way to wriggle up to the top of festive song charts. ‘Vele’, too, is one groove-worthy song. ‘Ishq wala love’, well, if someone makes us understand the lyrics, is another good song.
To sum it up, watch ‘Student Of The Year’ for the debutantes. They have really pulled off a tough task of playing praiseworthy roles in a film which suffers from the lack-of-a-story syndrome.