Movie Review: 'Student Of The Year' is all fluff and no stuff

It would’ve been more apt to title this movie ‘Dancer of the Year’, instead of ‘Student of the year’, because that’s what Karan Johar’s pretty students do the most. They break into a jig at the drop of a hat.

From extravagant weddings to snow-clad mountains, to funky clubs, to almost anywhere, they invest every waking hour in matching their steps to a host of remixed, old Hindi film classics.

At KJo’s new school, it’s only the dance moves that count, and nothing else.

Textbooks, sports and any other extracurricular activities, barring the one that touches the heart, are sidelined and pitched towards the fag end of the two-and-a-half-hour race.

And, when the lads aren’t dancing, they are busy flaunting their chiseled bodies, making even John Abraham’s ‘Dostana’ hotpants appear a tad too timid. The lass, meanwhile, is allowed to highlight her shopaholic streak, while perfecting her pout and dainty aura.

KJo has upped his style quotient from his first classroom romance in 1998 (‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’), with iPads, Louis Vuittons, Mercs and Ferraris. Even his students appear far more stylish than the three gawky ones in ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’. It’s only the story that’s the pitfall.

He’s unable to lend credibility to a story that’s awfully muddled. At one point, he ambitiously tries to make another sports drama, along the lines of Mansoor Khan’s hit movie ‘Jo Jeeta Wohi Shikander’, where an underdog goes on to win an intra-school cycling trophy, only to return to his comfort zone of innocent, candy floss love.

Writer Rensil Dsilva fluctuates between time frames in his screenplay to evoke some element of suspense, with four college pals narrating the incidents that lead to the ‘student of the year’ honour. The suspense, nevertheless, isn’t as impactful as the kids would have us believe.

We are told that St. Teresa’s school, also tipped as St.T, is a highly elitist school that reserves exclusive access to the rich brats and a motley bunch of middle-class kids, whose parents aspire to benefit from their affluent association.

It is this unwritten, classist divide that a new kid steps in to alter in ‘SOTY’.

Despite initially locking horns with the wealthy, Abhimanyu Singh blends right in and befriends the school’s most pompous brat Rohan Nanda. But his inability to stop his heart from skipping a beat for his pal’s loaded lover Shanaya Singhania creates a rift in their friendship.

The conflict leads them to race each other to the finish line for the top award.

Keeping with KJo’s tradition of inane love tales, his latest doesn’t spring any surprises. It does, however, throw some shockers like how his students partake in a mindless treasure hunt while bidding for the student of the year. Cracking inane Hindi riddles surely doesn’t tickle the grey matter, does it? And how, he gives every male bonding a ‘Dostana’ connotation.

Of the three newcomers, Siddarth Malhotra appears the most confident and exudes effortless charm. But KJo doesn’t allow him to test his acting chops, so we don’t really know if he’s worth it.

His on-screen buddies, and star kids, Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt are nothing exceptional. While Alia steps into Kareena Kapoor’s ‘Poo’ glam doll image, she isn’t crackling as the school hottie. Varun, despite flexing his muscles, doesn’t quite pack the punch.

Veteran Rishi Kapoor is delightful as the eccentric school principal, who parades pink sunglasses and ties with panache. Even the talented Ram Kapoor and Ronit Roy step in, briefly, in a script that doesn’t allow them to explore their true potential.

Boman Irani’s turbaned cameo is strictly for the gags, and he walks away with the twisted line; “Coach, Coach Hota Hai”.

Surely Karan Johar isn’t eyeing for the ‘director of the year’ with his new, love fest, making this yet-another pretty movie that will make little, or no, impact on us. So, for those who were unable to digest ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’, this one would clearly remain beyond their comprehension.

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