The American coming-of-age movies and Indian coming-of-age movies can hardly be compared. High school dramas are a hit with people of all ages and trust Karan Johar to bring us a teen romance every few years. Except, the love triangles have been done to death now. I mean, teenagers don’t only face love issues in schools, right? The Dharma head honcho’s newest teen caper, Student Of The Year 2, is set in 2019, but the plot seems too regurgitated. From the first installment, till now, hardly anything has changed. When the trailer of Student Of The Year 2 released, it gave away the plot of the film and we can say that in some ways that isn’t all that the film has to offer. True, there are a couple of good moments in the film, but that is finding a needle in a haystack. A lot of plots seem like they have been taken out of Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Bollywood’s infamous and iconic college romance movies. It is time, filmmakers honestly let go of their JJWS and KKHH hangovers and start making campus movies which have more to offer than just rich v/s poor rivalries and love triangles. We have all been through the teenage years and lets just say we had to face bigger issues than dating the hottest guy on campus.

Story and execution: Everything is opulent and colorful in a Dharma movie universe. Just as in Student Of The Year 2. The story follows the life of Rohan Sehgal (Tiger Shroff), son of an astrologer who is madly in love with his childhood sweetheart Mridula (Tara Sutaria). He follows her to the city’s top college but this new journey brings a lot of changes in his life along with friends, enemies, competition, and heartbreak.

The class of 2019 at Dehradun’s best college Saint Teresa is all about pretty girls, dapper dudes with rippling muscles, hot wheels and a colorful campus buzzing with extra-curricular activities.  Tiger Shroff is at its best when he takes admission on a sports quota.Tiger can pack a punch and play kabaddi and soon becomes the popular kid in spite of hailing from a modest background.

Things take a sharp turn when Tiger’s many talents become a problem for the current poster boy of the college Manav Mehra (Aditya Seal) and his sister (Ananya Panday).  The whole drama is what causes love, ladies and competitiveness.

Despite the fresh, young faces in the film, a stale script 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. I mean we have already binge watched Riverdale, can we please not see any more teenage love triangles?

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” is pitted with 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 does not have its own personality. While a lot more comedy and humor were expected from the film, the best laugh scenes came from Tiger’s gang. YouTuber Harsh Beniwal leaves a lasting impression with his natural flair of humor he has. It’s an out and out Punit Malhotra film, but it’s really all Johar – his preoccupations, his visions of excess, his fondness for triangular and quadrangular love stories. Like Student of the Year (2012), which he directed, this too is about male high school students in Dehradun trying to best each other at various sports and the female students who cheer them on and fall for them. At times you will rack your brains for the sheer misogyny onscreen.

Performances: Tiger Shroff easily takes over the rest of the ‘Students’ as he is the one who is made to stand out.There are a couple of fights, some kabaddi and a whole lot of unnecessary running. A jumping-dancing-fighting hero, words seem to emerge from him with difficulty; he’s more intense when it comes to facing Aditya Seal, than romancing Mia and Shreya. He’s a little old to be playing a college student, but he still manages to get the pulse of the younger viewers. Tara’s character doesn’t seem well-etched out. While her screen presence is impressive, her performance is average. Thankfully, for Ananya, her character gets a definite curve and a convincing backstory that works in her favour. Her performance of a rich brat with daddy issues gradually grows on you, especially in some of her meet cute scenes with Tiger. Ditto, for the film’s anti-hero Aditya Seal. He pulls off his part well, looking every bit the classy, rich spoilt brat. However, it is Tiger who impresses you till the very end.

Music: The Music is quite average, unlike the previous SOTY, which had songs like Radha and the Disco song that still have that recall value. The much hyped ‘hook-up’ song during the end-credits, featuring Tiger Shroff and Alia Bhatt. The other songs are strictly ok. Overall, the music is quite passable.

The edit could have been crisper. With the story at hand, the film could have had a shorter runtime. While the first half is spent in setting the tone of the film, second half gets a tad more exciting when the drama and action unfold. The film does make you nostalgic about Mansoor Khan’s 1992 hit Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, of course, SOTY 2 is a glitzier, more colourful version.

Overall, SOTY 2 doesn’t have that Ishq wala love, but there is ample dosti, high school drama and cool stuff to keep you going. It’s always fun rooting for the underdog and you’ll find yourself doing that here, too. 2 chirps from the Sparrow.


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