Anupama Chopra's review: Student of the Year

  • Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt and Siddharth Malhotra

    Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt and Siddharth Malhotra seen chilling on campus in Student Of The Year.

  • Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan

    Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan get cosy in Student Of The Year. Here's a look at more stills from yet another college romance by Karan ...

  • Alia Bhatt

    Alia Bhatt gets posy in pink in a still from a song in Student Of The Year.

  • Radha

    (L-R) Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt and Siddharth Malhotra in a still from the song Radha.

  • Disco Deewane

    (L-R) Siddharth Malhotra, Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan dance to Disco Deewane from SOTY.

  • SOTY

    Filled with a young and bubbling cast, SOTY is sure to appeal to the youth.

  • Karan Johar

    Karan Johar makes his directorial comeback in Student Of The Year with three newcomers - Siddharth Malhotra, Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt. Who's the hottest?

  • Student Of The Year

    Student Of The Year is the story of Abhimanyu Singh (Sidharth Malhotra) and Rohan Nanda (Varun Dhawan) who traverse the path of competition, envy, triumph, ...

  • Varun Dhawan and Siddharth Malhotra

    Varun Dhawan and Siddharth Malhotra vie for Student of the year trophy in the film.

  • Varun Dhawan

    Varun Dhawan is director David Dhawan's son.

Student of the Year
: Karan Johar
Actors: Sidharth Malhotra, Sana Saeed, Alia Bhatt
Rating: ***

Karan Johar's forte is excess. He creates fantastical worlds brimming with beautiful people and expensive things and yet anchors them in high emotion. His films work as both designer porn and soap opera.

The pleasure you derive from his films is directly connected to your tolerance of candy floss. I've always been seduced. But the danger of candy floss is that it can quickly become vacuous and over-designed.

At its centre, Student of the Year has a fun and engaging 'bromance' between two high school boys who come from opposite sides of the tracks.

Rohan Nanda, played by Varun Dhawan, is a rich brat, while Abhimanyu Singh, played by Sidharth Malhotra, is a middle-class scholarship student. Like Rahul and Anjali in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, the story of Rohan and Abhi's friendship and falling out is a school legend. But too often, this relationship is swallowed up by the overwhelming gloss, perfect styling and set-piece songs. The entire narrative hinges on a school competition that is so silly and shallow that it's hard to take any of it seriously.

Student of the Year is set in an impossibly shiny boarding school. The leading lady, Shanaya, played by Alia Bhatt, carries Hermes bags. She's like Poo from Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham but without the killer attitude. Shanaya is substituting her lack of family ties with designer labels. The boys are also given simplistic backstories to explain why they are the way there are.

All three might be emotionally damaged but their physical perfection is established with numerous shots of washboard abs. This is youth without awkwardness or vulnerability. There are also faint echoes of Jaane Tu… Ya Janne Na and Dil Chahta Hai.

Yet, Karan creates moments that are genuinely moving and humorous. His trump card is the wonderful Rishi Kapoor as the school's gay dean. Wearing flamboyant pink ties, he lusts after his sports coach. So the principal from a rival school remarks: Coach coach hota hai.

Karan also deserves applause for putting his faith in new actors. He elicits commendable performances from his cast of debutants including Boman Irani's son, Kayoze, who lets loose in a dramatic climactic speech. Alia's brief is to be pouty and attractive, which she manages to do.

Critically, the leading men, Varun and Sidharth, work. They don't instantly set the screen on fire like Hrithik Roshan or Ranbir Kapoor did in their first films. But they grow on you. Karan puts a heavy burden on them. They are the backbone of this film, but they pull it off. If you have patience and a taste for the overblown, check them out.


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