The Tiger Shroff-Tara Sutaria-Ananya Panday rom-com works due to the trio's earnest performances.
There's something definitely entertaining about watching a bunch of super-fit, good looking 20-somethings with perpetually blow dried hair and on point makeup prancing around the big screen for 2 and a half hours clad in their designer best. Call it guilty pleasure or escapism, let's get one thing out of the way, nobody goes for a Karan Johar (SOTY2 producer) movie expecting great cinema. So the sprawling St Teresa campus in Mussouri where 'model' students seem to be on a perpetual ramp walk, with nary a text book in sight: where the boys can throw the meanest punch without ruffling their gelled hair, are all part of the game.
Since the first SOTY directed by Karan Johar in 2012 was deemed a huge hit launching the careers of Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan and Sidharth Malhotra, expectations were naturally high of the Punit Malhotra directed SOTY2.
Much to the joy of SOTY fans we are happy to pronounce that the second edition is equally glossy and picture perfect, though as only to be expected, shallow. Rohan Sachdev (an extremely buff Tiger Shroff) and Manav Singhania (Aditya Seal who is a sure sight for sore eyes) spend an entire academic year preparing for the prestigious Student of the Year competition where the focus is not on academics (as you must have learnt from the first movie) but on winning a Kabbadi match. Why Kabbadi, you may ask. Perhaps KJo was doing his bit to promote the lesser popular sport - he certainly infuses a cool factor to the game with his players doing back flips and slow- mo jumps a la Keanu Reeves in Matrix.
Mridula or Mia (the superbly cast Tara Sutaria) and Shreya (a fresh faced Ananya Panday) play the love interests. There are 'two' many love triangles, all of which seem extremely forced and it would have made a great plot point except sadly there is absolutely no chemistry to speak of between all the couples involved. Admittedly all the four leads put in earnest performances - Tiger in particular plays the underdog from Pishorilal Chamandas College, who gets his heart broken, with trademark restraint.
Tara has enormous screen presence and is a natural on screen though her character comes across as shallow. Ditto with Ananya who shows potential - though as a poor little rich kid who develops a crush on the hero she flounders in comparison to her co actors' natural act. Ananya is given ample opportunity to showcase her dad, Chunky's comic genes, which she could excel in.
But if the romantic pairings lack the spark, Rohan and Manav's bromance more than makes up for it! Though again Manav's character isn't etched properly so the sibling rivalry between him and Shreya isnt explored at all as well as his equation with Mia.
At 2 and a half hours the movie can seem long. Will Smith makes a blink and you miss it special appearance in between the Yeh Jawani song. And just when you thought they had cut out Alia Bhatt's special item number, lo and behold she appears as the credits start rolling (maybe it's time filmmakers resist trying to keep audiences in theaters after the last shot is done with?) Despite a bare chested Tiger doing his best, sadly Alia doesn't have the oomph to make the catchy Hook Up number work.
Overall SOTY2 works because of the earnest performances from all four lead actors who are ably supported by some excellent actors in other side roles -specially Rohan's Pishori friends. It might come across as all fluff and not much soul but the pretty faces more than compensate. If you are a fan of KJo's feel good movies detached from reality, then SOTY2 is for you.
Student of the Year 2
Director: Punit Malhotra
Cast: Tiger Shroff, Tara Sutaria, Ananya Panday, Aditya Seal
3 out of 5