Directed by: Karan Johar
Starring: Siddharth Malhotra, Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan, Rishi Kapoor
All pictures courtesy of: http://www.glamsham.com
Karan Johar really is a considerate filmmaker. It was during a product placement wet dream for high fashion houses early on in Student Of The Year (SOTY) that Johar offers you a choice – buy into the premise or reject it outright. Luckily, I totally bought into it and am glad I did because quite simply, SOTY is not quite the Gossip Girl/Glee/High School Musical hybrid the trailer leads one to expect. That is not to say that such tribute is totally absent – but beneath those plunging necklines and high hemlines (and that’s just the male leads) lurks a director entertaining his audience and conversing with his critics whilst questioning his own creative vision with enviable clarity.
Indeed, it was this friction where super glossy visuals are at odds with the darker subtext that makes SOTY so watchable. Sometimes, Johar indulges his creative vision fully taking the audience along for the ride (namely in the songs but also in the ensemble scenes) only to counter this when he savages his own concept (at the prize giving ceremony) or with a good old punch up or two. The only major problem I had was the length of the film which could have been trimmed down as well as Shanaya’s character getting more screen time.
Performance wise, the debutantes make for a convincing trio with each playing to their strengths – what is remarkable is their confidence and lack of error which would be unnerving if they were not so charming. Personally, I thought Siddharth and Alia were rather good whilst Varun was the better dancer and stronger in ensemble scenes. The supporting cast are also very good, adding as much to the film as the main trio. Rishi Kapoor has fun as Dean Yoginder, a total contrast to his Rauf Lala from Agneepath earlier this year and is excellent as always.
However, it is Karan Johar who steals the show – whether it is his direction, storytelling abilities or just the way he knows how to interact with his audiences and make it all look deceptively effortless, it is no wonder he found SOTY a challenge to make. Coming full circle after Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (which shares many a thematic similarity with SOTY as does the rest of his work), it seems Johar is ready to challenge himself like never before but also has an awareness of the effect this will have on Hindi cinema. It will be exciting to see what his next project will be but for now, the success of SOTY is well deserved and to that end, worth a watch or two. Recommended.