Student of the Year 2 review: A glossy, single-minded sequel
Tiger Shroff, Ananya Pandey, and Tara Sutaria take turns making sense of Student of the Year 2, a cash-cow sequel that mocks real sports films
The only time you see these kids in the classroom, a teacher is telling them about ‘economic indicators’. Makes you think: Mansoor Khan’s Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar had released in 1992, a year after Manmohan Singh’s reforms had liberalised the Indian economy. Set in Dehradun, the film starred Aamir Khan as an underdog cyclist who, in the spirit of upward social mobility gripping the nation, brings victory to his lowbrow high-school over its elite counterpart. The treatment — adjusted for time and budget — was just as flashy (remember the last-lap gear hubs?), but there was still a hard-won context to Sanju’s winning that made us cheer him on.
Director: Punit Malhotra
Cast : Tiger Shroff, Tara Sutaria, Ananya Panday
Student of The Year 2, a sequel of Karan Johar’s 2012 campus flick that launched Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan, and Sidharth Malhotra, appropriates the social dynamics of JJWH in the grisliest way. Rohan (Tiger Shroff) is the star athlete of Pishorilal Chamandas College, a no-frills Hindi-medium academy occasionally rented out for wedding parties. In a bid to win back his childhood sweetheart (Tara Sutaria), who studies at the rich St. Teresa College and has clipped her name from Mridula to Mia, Rohan takes up a sports scholarship at the institute. There, he has regular run-ins with Shreya (Ananya Pandey) and campus jock Manav (Aditya Seal), all the while raring to win the coveted ‘Student of the Year’ trophy in the annual ‘Dignity Cup’ event.
More than the film’s jazzing up of private school opulence, what hurts more is its lensing of simplicity. Orphaned at an early age, our hero is raised by a sexpert uncle and an aunt who fumbles at English. Rohan’s poor (and thus ill-mannered) friends are humiliated at a nightclub, in a scene that otherwise offers the greatest crossover in history. When Rohan returns to his old college after a mid-movie rustication, he is instantly restored on the kabaddi team, no questions asked. The choice of the sport itself feels like tokenism, lending a dusty Indian-ness to a film far removed from it.
Tiger is at his brawniest, jumpiest best. Yet — forced to play both harried lover and striving sportsman — the actor runs out of steam. Things get understandably frustrating for Rohan after a while: faced with the first emotionally complex situation of his life, he responds by punching a guy in the face. The girls too adopt physicality as the only mode of expression (slapped by her father, a cold and repentant Shreya dances out her aggression). Ananya and Tara play off each other well, but any dramatic highpoint in the film truly belongs to Aditya, who reimagines the brash villain archetype as a cool and courtly competitor.
Director Punit Malhotra loyally glosses up the SOTY universe, with cameos and frills and a Punjabi-heavy soundtrack that features, weirdly and effectively, a rock version of Yeh Jawani Hai Diwani. However, in trying to tell a rags-to-riches story in a franchise that solely celebrates the latter, he belittles the spirit of genuine sports films worth their salt. As a love story, too, the film is bereft of spark, with tired tricks and predictable arcs promptly giving away who will go with whom.
While announcing the final showdown, the commentator introduces Manav as the ‘champ’ and Rohan as the ‘underdog’. Even in a fictional setup, there hasn’t been a worse case of misreporting. Don’t be conned, paying viewers, not the second time. Everyone wins in Student of the Year 2. And they are all on the same team.