“Ladki ko respect do, line toh bijli wale bhi dete hai!” said Shreya (Ananya Panday), and I found my inner self whistling in approval.
As far as witty, progressive or socially aware dialogues go, Student Of The Year 2 (SOTY 2) had just about a handful — but even that seemed a breath of fresh air compared to its prequel Student Of The Year (2012).
At the onset, let’s just say that the film isn’t half as bad as I went in expecting — yes, I was guilty of presuming it will be a three hour-long yawn-fest, interspersed with ‘tch-tch’ moments.
I was not entirely right.
But not entirely wrong either.
The story is typical — Rohan (Tiger Shroff) lands a seat in Teresa College under a sports scholarship. He has a dream — to be with Mia (Tara Sutaria), his girlfriend of years from Pishorilal Chamandas College. Mia, however, isn’t that girl anymore, she’s left all that behind and wants to start afresh. She has a dream — to win the college dance competition.
Shreya (Ananya) is the college trustee’s daughter — wild, unruly, obnoxious — but her tantrums are ignored because, well, she’s the trustee’s daughter, right? She has a dream — to win the college dance competition — and eventually study at the London School Of Dance.
Apparently, women's empowerment in SOTY 2 universe can only be achieved through dance.
Manav, the college stud, the unnecessarily bad guy necessary for the plot to move forward, is Shreya’s brother. Again, the trustee’s son, so no one messes with him. He has a dream — to win the Student of the Year title, third time in a row.
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai re-enactment? (Photo: YouTube screengrab)
Notice how all important characters have cool names, reeking of wealth. The elite college is 'Teresa' while the ‘gareeb’ college is called Pishorilal Chamandas.
And William Shakespeare asked, “What’s in a name?”
If Rohan and Manav remained in the same college, the story would be uncannily similar to the prequel. Which is why Rohan is rusticated (wrongly, of course, but a strategic requirement for the plot), forcing him to return to Pishorilal College. Now, the story looks uncannily similar to Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar but that’s chalta hai.
There’s even a bakery, quite like the one in Jo Jeeta, where the socially modest boys hang out, while the elites head to daddy-owned nightclubs.
While Tiger is himself — jumpy, bendy, twisty, liquid-like and near-inaudible thanks to his teeth-clenched dialogue delivery, there’s something about this David-esque man that makes you believe he can. Fighting five boys singlehandedly? He can. Winning dance competitions as easily as swatting flies? He can. Winning 500-meter races and pro-kabaddi games? He can.
My hair gel is better than yours, bruh! (Photo: YouTube screengrab)
The girls, as Karan Johar kept calling them on his show Koffee With Karan — as if they're nameless, lifeless objects — have a lot to learn. Tara is pretty but stiff. Her face seems to lack the necessary muscles required to emote. She does put in the effort, but not enough. Ananya, on the other hand, was a tad better. She has spunk and potentially excellent comic timing, but her big doe eyes serve little purpose. Both Tara and Ananya have a long way to go, but it’s not impossible — remember Alia Bhatt in the first part?
The film does serve you all the necessary clichés — a clownish college principle, here’s fat = loser best friend, an ex-girlfriend who turns out to be a gold-digger because our hero deserves better, pyaar, dhoka, jhagra, maarpeeth!
But there’s something about competition-oriented films — just like Jo Jeeta, it ends up wheeling you in, making you root for the underdog, and even though you know they will win in the end, you find yourself at the edge of your seat when they’re losing, and clapping like a slightly challenged seal when they finally win.
The music did well for the movie — it had catchy, danceable numbers, along with a few hummable ones for a leisurely Saturday afternoon book-reading session. Personal favourite: Fakira.
But why Bollywood never seems to be able to come out of the black and white trope is beyond me. Why, for one to appear good, the other must be portrayed as the bad one? And in most cases, the bad guy is neither given agency, nor enough motive to be so bad — they’re simply placed as blobs of darkness against which the hero and the heroine can shine.
Can we ever do away with this?
Do watch out for the cameos. Yes, you know Alia and the Hook Up song — though it’s not part of the storyline, just in the end credits.
What will blow your mind is a cameo by Will goddamn Smith!
AND, he dances to a Bollywood number — beat that!
I’m going with 3 stars out of 5.