‘Student of the Year 2’ review: A campus less ordinary

An image from ‘Student of the Year 2’. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@SOTYOfficial  

Watching films like Student of the Year 2 should come with a statutory warning: that it is extremely injurious to the health of senior citizen critics like yours truly. The film doesn’t just make you acutely conscious of the fact that you have one foot in the grave but builds up this larger existential crisis—how like the mummy papa, chachi chacha, principal, teachers and coaches on screen you see are almost redundant in the larger scheme of things of the post-millenials. Other than the young friends and collegemates, no one else is of any consequence in the film; everyone above 20 is shoved to the periphery—either a prop-like presence (coach Manoj Pahwa) or a convenient stereotype (principal Sameer Soni).

But then hasn’t every new teen rom-com on the block done this to the previous generation? Didn’t this happen two decades ago as well, when Kuch Kuch Hota Hai turned fantasy, aspirational colleges into a legitimate setting and campus capers as a winning formula? A formula that was ably taken forward by Student of the Year.

So there is Mia (Tara Sutaria) who holds forth on growing up and evolving but as a veteran viewer you know that the more things change, the more they remain the same. “We are young and we are crazy” line might get added in the remix of Ye jawani hai deewani but it is still the old classic that is making them spin.

Student of the Year 2
  • Director: Punit Malhotra
  • Starring: Tiger Shroff, Tara Sutaria, Ananya Pandey, Aditya Seal, Manoj Pahwa, Samir Soni, Gul Panag
  • Storyline: Underdog, middle class Pishorilal College has to get the better of the rich and privileged St Teresa by winning the intercollegiate Dignity Cup
  • Run time: 145 minutes

Despite the fresh, young faces at the centre, a staleness looms large over SOTY2. The same old fairytale castle for college building (despite being set in Dehradun/Mussorie), the same old triangle—Archie with Betty and Veronica vying for his attention. In this case there is Rohan (Tiger Shroff) with Mia (Tara Sutaria) and Shreya (Ananya Pandey) for company. The same candyfloss lives, designer clothes with newer, fancier labels and omnipresent pom pom girls, irrespective of whether any crucial game is being played or not.

College life is all about having fun with a gang of friends, having a romantic interest and rivalry with another gang. The students play, dance, visit night clubs but, in the time-honoured tradition of mainstream Hindi films, they never study; all they learn is to distinguish between being in love and being in friendship.

To be fair SOTY2 tries to be a little different, by adding a little Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar to K2H2. The poor “Pishorilal ka fukra” gets pitched against the “St Teresa dude” in the game of kabaddi, in much the same way as Model had a face off with Rajput in a cycle race in JJWS. But caught between two cult films, SOTY2 isn’t able to acquire a personality of its own.

Sutaria has poise, despite all the plastic packaging; Pandey who is irritatingly ditzy to start with, manages to strike some likeable notes. But the film clearly tries to draw from and make the most of Tiger’s appeal amongst Generation Z—so he dances, shows off his muscles, runs races, plays kabaddi and fights the roguish collegemates. All of this, while looking oddly tired and disinterested.

And if it’s the modern, can the traditional remain far behind? In the name of being ambitious, a young girl like Mia is made to come across as stupid and flighty. “I want to make my own life than be someone else’s life,” she says and you know right there that in the modern conservatism of the film’s world, she will regret it later. Eventually, the only million rupee question the film left me with—will kabaddi now become cool?

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 5:14:48 PM |

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