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Friday, February 3, 2023

Student Of The Year 2 Movie Review: A Class You Should Not Bunk

The expectations from Punit Malhotra’s Student Of The Year 2 (SOTY 2) were not as high.

The first SOTY was the grand launchpad for Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt and Sidharth Malhotra.

This also marks the debuts of Ananya Panday and Tara Sutaria, as well as Tiger Shroff’s first film under the Dharma Productions banner.

Like the previous movie, this movie tracks the story of a new bunch of competitive students at the St. Teresa College in Dehradun.

A love triangle forms between Shreya (Ananya Panday), a rich girl and Mia (Tara Sutaria), an aspiring dancer.

Mia and Shreya’s main subject of attraction is Rohan (Tiger Shroff), a new student at the college.

The college competes against their other contemporaries in the 29th Annual Inter-College Dignity Cup.

The most prized possession, the Student of the Year trophy, is desired by many, including Rohan.

Manav (Aditya Seal), another popular boy in the college, challenges Rohan to fight for it.

Representation of Today’s Youths

The positive factor of SOTY 2 is that it does not suffer from a hangover of the first film.

There are moments which makes us nostalgic of the 2012 movie, but this sequel does not feel like a rehash of previous events at all.

In the first instalment, the love triangle was quite filmy and, in my view, over the top.

However, the love angle in this seems to be more subtle.

We don’t see two friends turn into foes only to become friends again, like Rohan and Abhimanyu in the first SOTY.

Thankfully, there is a controlled representation of toxic masculinity… The brawls and machoism is just one aspect to it.

Contrary to my expectations, the movie does not show an over-exaggerated image of today’s youths.

Thankfully, the youth is not reduced to a cyber-addicted and pretentious generation. There are glimpses of their dreams, aspirations and wishes to succeed in life.

In fact, there are moments where I’m sure many youngsters will be able to resonate with… I definitely could.

Even the girls are not just reduced to two females fighting for one guy – as the trailer highlights.

We are able to understand the different circumstances of both Mriduala aka Mia and Shreya.

Director Punit Malhotra’s Work

Punit Malhotra does not pull on the heartstrings much and this underplay of sentiments is what works well with SOTY 2.

It is a relief that we are not forced to witness heightened emotions in a typical Bollywood way.

Malhotra tries his best not to adhere to stereotypes and caricatures especially when depicting LGBTQ characters.

It is so refreshing to see the Kabaddi coach (played by Gul Panag) be fearless and confident in admitting her homosexuality.

This depiction is progressive in comparison to seeing Yogendra Vashisht as an atypical camp and sassy gay principal – who ends up becoming a laughing stock, most of the time.

Also, it is nice to see that different sports are exhibited in this film, rather than the usual triathlon, basketball and football.

We see more of a focus on Kabaddi as well as Athletics.

His choice of songs is also great… As we’ve seen in his previous films like I Hate Luv Storys.

The SOTY 2 soundtrack is excellent.

Tracks like ‘The Jawaani Song’, ‘Fakira’, ‘The Hookup Song’ and ‘Jatt Ludhiyane Da’ will definitely pave a way into our hearts.

Cast Performances

Tiger Shroff, firstly, owns the role of Rohan Sachdev.

He is effortless in playing Rohan and he does not make the character seem too heroic as seen in his former works in Heropanti and Baaghi.

If we reflect on Tiger’s journey as an actor since his debut, there has definitely been huge improvements. He has grown in confidence and that speaks volumes.

Tiger fans will definitely love this.

Ananya Panday is dynamite on-screen. Her subtle nuances and sassy antiques are what make her character Shreya amiable to watch.

The role is quite a layered which is explored well in the film. In fact, to summarise it, Shreya seems like a hybrid of Shanaya and Rohan Nanda – from the first SOTY.

Panday shows a lot of promise and has huge potential to make a successful career.

Tara Sutaria is also great. She is very expressive when it comes to dialogue deliveries and emotional quotients.

Sutaria has a strong screen presence and is also promising… She too is here to stay.

All three actors showcase convincing chemistries.

Aditya Seal is effective as the egoistic and brattish Manav. He does not display typical good looks or abs in order to reinforce his ‘hotness’.

His subtlety is what works for his performance.

If there is anyone who does not do much, it is Samir Soni, who plays Principal Gujral. 

Besides screaming and trying to be nutty, he contributes nothing else to film… But that is simply due to the writing of his character.

In fact, Manoj Pahwa is far better as the dean of St Teresa’s rival college. 

It is great to see Manjot Singh and Sahil Anand briefly reprise their roles as Dimpy and Jeet, respectively.

What’s Bad?

There are quite a lot of unexpected positive points to SOTY 2. 

However, the second-half is dragged out, especially during the build-up to the finals of the contest. 

Perhaps more crisp and neat editing would’ve helped the film’s transitioning and pace?

There seem to be a few errors in direction. For instance, when Manav and Rohan fight in front of the whole college, not one staff member interjects in attempting to stop it.

It would’ve also been nice to see more about Mia’s relationship with her family. This would’ve helped us more in understanding her character.

Moreover, there are a few predictable and cliched in places – which may not be unsavoury for some cinemagoers. 

The cameo appearances of Will Smith and Alia Bhatt just leaves us questioning why they were in the songs because they are not even featured in the film. 

Whilst the representation of college life is larger-than-life, it is not as embellished as the first.

It is essential to realise that this is Karan Johar’s vision of college life and as far as we know, he is just trying to produce a movie for the sake of entertainment. 

Trying to expect realism from a commercial, escapist piece of cinema like this is like expecting a burger at pizza hut. 

One has to know what they are going in for.

On the whole, Student Of The Year 2 is undoubtedly unwarranted and unwanted. But it does not do harm, at all.

In fact, you will be surprised at how entertained you will be.

Sure, it is no masterpiece, but nor does it promise to be one. 

Go check it out, you won’t be disappointed.

⭐⭐⭐ (3/5 stars).

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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