At the seasoned age of 40, Karan Johar is rewinding to campus romances, coming-of-age angst and innocence. It’s not exactly a throwback to his first film, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai; but it’s coming full circle in a manner of speaking. After years of working with megastars and some of Hindi cinema’s best acting talent, he’s going back to beginning by launching three newcomers. That can have its charms and drawbacks.
On the plus side, his lead actors have a welcome freshness; the heroine, Alia Bhatt, actually looks like a teenager, even if a perfectly turned-out, made-up one (she pays a rich girl, so we can forgive that). The two men slugging it out over her — Sidharth Malhotra and Varun Dhawan — look too buffed and hunky to be teenagers but we’ll forgive that, too, for the sheer relief of seeing new faces and, more importantly, fresh faces in a film about students.
Both Dhawan (who’s director David Dhawan’s son) and Malhotra have assisted Johar on My Name Is Khan, so they’re not entirely new to the business. As for Alia, she’s director Mahesh Bhatt’s daughter.
However their acting potential is unclear as of now, so it’s a bit of a Hobson’s choice: 40+ stars who can act or youngsters who will bring in some new blood into an industry that desperately needs it? Since we’ve had a substantial dose of the former (Main Hoon Na, Rang De Basanti, 3 Idiots), let’s go with Option 2 now. And hope that it will be as enjoyable as, say, Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na.
Johar’s films have as many detractors as fans. But both categories will not quite know what to expect with this one, for the director has turned his back on many of his usual props and ventured into territory that is familiar, yet new.
The story is the classic triangle: two young men — one wealthy, one middle-class — fighting for a girl. The football field becomes their battleground, the Student of the Year trophy the symbol of victory.
Of course, the film will have the catchy songs, glitzy dances, designer threads, picture-perfect locales and emotionally wrought scenes that Johar is known for. The rest we’ll have to wait for.
Bottomline: The film’s selling point is Karan Johar; that’s all there’s to it, really.
Student of the Year
Cast: Alia Bhatt, Sidharth Malhotra, Varun Dhawan
Director: Karan Johar
Releases: October 19, 2012