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Average Performance

I have a bone to pick with Karan Johar,who invites us once again,to witness a bunch of young students do their thing

Written by Shubhra Gupta | Published: October 20, 2012 3:32 am

Student Of The Year

DIRECTOR: Karan Johar

CAST: Sidharth Malhotra,Varun Dhawan,Alia Bhatt,Rishi Kapoor,Ram Kapoor,Ronit Roy,Farida Jalal

**

I have a bone to pick with Karan Johar,who invites us once again,to witness a bunch of young students do their thing. Not because this is yet another impossibly swish “school” that bears little resemblance to the posh-est educational institutions in the country: after the seismic shock of that first Riverdale-high-school-clone in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai,anything was possible. Not because we are asked to believe that these beautifully-toned,manicured,polished,perfectly-attired creatures are “students” in their final year of school: a KJo film would faint at the thought of scruffiness,where even a muddy dab on a sweatshirt after a strenuous game of football appears artfully daubed. And so what if they don’t look as youthful as they ought,as long as they are good-looking,right?

Nope,none of the above. It’s more to do with the fact that the film appears to have been cobbled together from several of the director’s own films,and from other poor,underdog students acing super-rich,super-brat progenies of wealthy parents. So when you see “sports-scholarship-holder” Abhimanyu Singh (Malhotra) squaring up to bad-boy Rohan Nanda (Dhawan,David’s son) and the top-to-toe designer-clad Shanaya Singhania (Bhatt,Mahesh’s daughter),you know exactly what you are in for. What you don’t expect is that the in-between stuff will have quite a seen-it-so-what’s-new quality.

St Teresa’s is the tony,high-nosed school in Dehradun,where Abhimanyu,Rohan (cutely called Ro,of course) and Shanaya and their friends are busy preparing to finish school and win the coveted top prize. The “student of the year” concept is the brainchild of the school’s openly gay dean (Rishi Kapoor) who has the hots for the hearty,buff coach (Roy). This results in several episodes of dean-lusting-after-coach which get old very soon,and everything goes into a loop with best friends learning to cope with competition and winning and losing.

Some parents are also in the picture,notably Rohan’s hard-nosed dad (Ram Kapoor) who dislikes him intensely for reasons we never really understand,other than his desire to make music rather than money; and the parent-less Abhimanyu’s nasty chachi and loving dadima (Jalal). But the main action stays between the threesome and its close friends,a tomboy,a vixen,a chamcha,a friendly sardar,and a plump boy with spectacles.

The trouble with Student Of The Year is that it doesn’t even feel as if it is trying for novelty,despite the brand new talent it showcases. Not one of the three leads fully breaks out of the “types” they are assigned,even if you can see they have been schooled hard for their parts: the swimwear rounds are most impressive,the abs are washboard,the skin glistens,and they are all very glossy to match their environs,but the acting chops are slender. Of the three,Malhotra fares best,and Bhatt wears her clothes well,but none of them has zing. The supporting cast is better: I liked the overweight fellow with the glasses (Kayoze Irani,Boman’s son) who’s given a nice little blow-out scene in the end.

Clearly,KKHH is the clear template,even if the triangle is inverted. Instead of the one boy-two girls of Johar’s debut which had freshness and a distinct charm,despite Shah Rukh,Kajol and Rani being well past the age of high-schoolers,Student Of The Year is a two boys-one girl which treads the same path with much less agility and skill. You can also see bits of Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na,Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar and Dil Chahta Hai. Not even the songs,so much a Johar strength,are distinctive. If this is “ishq waala love”,I ask,where is the “film waali film”,the “KJo waali’ film? This is all show,so very little tell.

SHUBHRA GUPTA

shubhra.gupta@expressindia.com

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