Mumbai, 10 May 2019 15:25 IST
While Tiger Shroff's flexibility reaches new levels, even he finds it difficult to rescue this film with its vacuous plot.
Even in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there is some sense of realism that the makers feel necessary to maintain. With Student Of The Year 2 (2019), it feels a welcome respite that the makers choose to go bravely and pursue their imagination to the fullest.
As rich, sparkling kids with tousled hair and massive biceps fight for a shiny golden trophy, one does feel a sense of pride for the future of education in India. At a time when unemployment is at an all-time high and drought conditions are being predicted, opulence is a nice change.
The story is not about anything as dull as education though; don't let the title fool you. It is about Rohan Sachdev (Tiger Shroff), the most well-nutritioned kid of Pishorilal Chamandas college, who is in love with Mridula aka Mia (Tara Sutaria). Except, Mia has moved on, literally and physically, to the elite Saint Teresa.
Like any true blue Hindi film hero obsessed with, or smitten by, his love, Rohan follows her to Saint Teresa via a sports scholarship. Mia has eyes for Manav (Aditya Seal), the golden boy of the college, and decides to double-cross Rohan in a dance competition. Cue heartbreak and the promise of revenge by winning the Student Of The Year trophy.
Punit Malhotra's film has the glamour, colour, and opulence that is expected of a Dharma production, and adds Tiger Shroff's flexible moves and hulking biceps to the mix. What it lacks is character arcs, valid plotlines, dramatic tension to create empathy with the characters. But that would be nitpicking. This is a film to be entertained by, and leave logic outside the door.
Where else will you find a lone Pishorilal Chamandas college battling Waltham's, Stephen's, Saint Teresa in a stadium with facilities that our Olympians with their meagre allowances would be envious of.
So you hardly bat an eyelid when Shroff pulls off 100m, 400m and 800m runs in the same day. But each race is a lesson, till he earns the eventual victory. He is also the winner of the kabaddi tournament which he single-handedly (quite literally at that) wins for his team. A reminder that we are using team here in the loosest sense of the term.
While Shroff represents the steadfastness of the film, it is left to the two new heroines to bring in the dramatic tension. Tara Sutaria has the presence, can dance, and pulls off some graceful moves through the film. But the young actress is laden with a vacuous character who seems as lost as the plotline.
Ananya Panday's Shreya is a lot more believable and generates some empathy. While the actress looks raw in her dialogue delivery, her eventual development as Rohan's love interest is worth some interest.
Where the original Student Of The Year (2012) had a cast of well-developed supporting actors in Kayoze Irani and Rishi Kapoor, the sequel has a shrieking loud Samir Soni and a group of friends who only serve as the damsels in distress for Tiger Shroff.
Even Manoj Pahwa, whose fantastic performance in Mulk (2018) seems such a long time ago, is wasted. Aditya Seal does his bit to play the pantomime rich brat villain, but the character has no developmental arc to create any sympathy, empathy or anger for him.
Throughout all this is Tiger Shroff, vaulting through the hurdles and the script in superhero fashion. The actor does have an appeal, obvious from the teenagers who cooed at his six-packs and biceps.
He even cracks a few self-deprecating jokes, including one where he chooses Flying Jatt over Spiderman. But even he does not have the superhuman ability needed to rescue this one. Well, if Will Smith's appearance can't, Tiger can't.
Once the initial bubble-gum sweetness of the romance wears off, the rest of the film feels vapid.
In all, one might as well go back in time and watch Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar (1992) to relive the real magic of college competitions.
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