In one line, Student of the Year is nothing but a teenage magnum opus that takes place in a world that might seem familiar but in reality is something that is custom-made by director Karan Johar.
As this film unfurled before my eyes, I realized that there is nothing even remotely ingenious or inventive that the film has to offer, save for newer ways of wearing a kurta to weddings (we’ve had it all wrong for centuries!) The film’s main plot is this – Student of the Year, is in fact an award instituted by the gay headmaster of a pristine boarding school called St. Teresa’s in Dehradun. The award, for those of you who have read the Harry Potter series bears uncanny resemblance to the Triwizard Tournament. It involves a series of tests designed to challenge your academic skills (an IQ test), artistic skills and lateral thinking abilities (a treasure hunt and a prom) and athletic skills (a triathlon). The winner not only receives glory beyond comparison but also a shot at an Ivy League University sponsored by the school trust fund.
Into the mix, you throw in the son of a rich industrialist who is in fact rockstar rebel (played by Varun Dhawan),his girlfriend – the spoilt gossip girl clone (Alia Bhatt) who knows everything about designers and a newcomer to the school, a boy with limited means but big dreams (Siddharth Malhotra).They come with their cronies as well, supporting characters who contribute little or nothing to the main plot of the film. It’s like an entire omnibus of Archie’s Double Digest for two and a half hours.
The film pays homage (whether intentionally or not, it’s obvious to anyone who has ever been exposed to the grandiose of pop culture) to countless of forms of entertainment (musicals, comic cons, chick flicks) seen in the past five years. The film is not only an overdose of ear-splitting Punjabi music but a gawdy tribute to a school where girls can wear miniskirts to class and where classrooms are decked in red wallpaper – as if dolled up for Christmas celebrations. The evidently successful debut that the three leads have had due to this film is sure to wane after a while – the starlight that they collectively share might as well be equated to possessing fifteen minutes of fame.
The film does have its “plus point” – the use of colour and music. The colour is so overdone that it overshadows everything else and as for the music, it will definitely reach night clubs.
All in all, Student of the Year is not a film for those of you who thought that you might see some maturity in a KJo film after Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna. The film is a soppy reminder of all the other work that the director has done but frankly, I don’t think it aspires to be anything else either. Instead of watching this, pick up the latest Archie comic and plug in an entire album of Glee and settle down with a nice Diet Coke and revel in the beauty of something that does possess ingenuity. Better value for money, I promise.