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Action is a universal language: Tiger Shroff- Cinema express

Action is a universal language: Tiger Shroff

The actor, director Punit Malhotra, and co-star Aditya Seal talk about their upcoming release, Student of the Year 2

Published: 07th May 2019

The new academic year of St Teresa High School — the fictional (and incredibly opulent) setting of the Student of the Year series — finds Tiger Shroff striving for the coveted Dignity Cup while navigating a complicated love life. Debutantes Ananya Pandey and Tara Sutaria play the two girls enchanted by Tiger’s machismo, even as campus baddie Aditya Seal gives him a hard time. 

On his preparations for the sport-heavy part, Tiger recounts, “Kabaddi is one of the sports in the competition. I practised a lot, but kept my own athletic abilities in mind. I have a certain audience that likes to see me do my own Tigerisms.” As for the academic requirements of the role, the actor jokes, “I really wish I was in this college. What am I studying in the film? I'm studying romance, how to woo two girls, action, and sports.”

Son of veteran actor Jackie Shroff, Tiger made his Bollywood debut in 2014 with Heropanti. In just five years, the trained martial artist and dancer has established himself as an unrivalled action star, spawning the blockbuster Baaghi franchise and drawing comparisons with his cinematic idol, Hrithik Roshan. Looking back at his career graph, Tiger says he feels blessed to have carved out an identity in a competitive marketspace. “When I decided to become an actor, I looked at people like Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, and Bruce Lee. Why are these guys such larger-than-life, celebrated heroes? They all have one thing in common, and that’s action. It's a universal language.” 

Punit Malhotra, director of Student of the Year 2 (the first film was helmed by Karan Johar) waxes enthusiastic about Tiger’s dedication. “We shot a couple of action scenes in Thailand. He took the choreographer and his assistant there too, and would rehearse after a whole day of shooting.” Tiger adds, “I feel lost without rehearsals. The only time I fought with Punit was when he forgot to call me for a tryout.”

Punit claims to enjoy the memes being made based on the film’s promos and says they were expecting such a response. “The film is made for a certain age group, and they are the ones making those memes. I would have been disappointed if they didn't,” he says. The director also accepts the criticism that the film is set in an unreal world, with little resemblance to actual campuses. “Karan’s school was a lot more glamorous than our school. But if you think about it, there are some private schools like that popping up in Mumbai.” 

Besides a cameo by series alumnus Alia Bhatt in the Hook Up song, SOTY 2 also features a special appearance by Will Smith. The Hollywood star was in India in October last year to shoot for his Facebook travel show, Bucket List, which included a stopover on the sets of a Bollywood dance number. Punit describes the American star as the ‘most positive guy’ on set. “Just before the shoot, something happened, and I ran up to the stage and gave him some instructions. After the shot got over, Tiger came up to me and said, ‘Did you realise what you just did? You directed Will Smith.’”

Although fronted by a popular star, Punit assures SOTY 2 will give equal attention to individual character arcs, including the journey of the main antagonist. As glimpsed in the trailer, the vengeful nemesis to Tiger’s star athlete is played by Aditya Seal, best known for his appearance as a child actor in the controversial film, Ek Chhotisi Love Story (2002). Aditya made his full-fledged debut in the 2014 film, Purani Jeans, and was later seen in Tum Bin II (2016) and Namaste England (2018). On the buzz surrounding his negative turn in SOTY 2, Aditya comments, “I had high hopes for Tum Bin II, but unfortunately, the film did not connect with the audience. It was released 15 days before demonetisation and took a major beating. I am happy I finally landed a franchise like Student of The Year that has put me on the map.”

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