'Student of the Year' (Hindi)
Director: Karan Johar
Cast: Siddharth Malhotra, Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt
There are some things you associate with Karan Johar’s films – melodious songs, perky heroines, impish heroes, sentimental love stories, a bunch of caricatures, a photo finish. Of course, you may ask why on earth a woman who had the time to write eight letters on her deathbed didn’t just spend it kissing her daughter or calling the friend she was trying to hook her husband up with. But never mind logic. The thing is, most of all, you associate Shah Rukh Khan with KJo films. A young, happy Shah Rukh Khan who shared the frame with KJo in Aditya Chopra’s DDLJ, and reprised Raj in most of KJo’s movies.
Maybe Karan Johar movies can’t survive without SRK. Or maybe that genre of movies died with the ageing of that generation of stars – Kajol, Rani Mukherjee, Preity Zinta, Juhi Chawla, Madhuri Dixit. Most of them could be cute and ditzy without making you want to slap them. But the bottomline is, it's very hard to make that formula work with an audience that can download better movies.
What I dislike most about 'Student of the Year' - and there are many things I dislike – is that it endorses teens behaving like they’re in their twenties. There’s leading us into a world of fantasy, gleaming with international brands and good-looking people. And then they are leading us into a world of disconcerting high-school seduction, populated with close-up shots of rippling abs, tiny swimming trunks, bikinis, and bulging chest muscles that bring to mind the Seinfeld episode about the “mansiere”.
You can take the stereotypes – the nasty aunt who grudges an orphan nephew every little thing, the rags-to-riches father who sneers at his softie son who’d rather play the guitar than the stock market, the middle class parents who want their son to be the rich boy’s chamcha, so that he can become the rich boy’s friend. But I draw the line at a single mother who wants her daughter to have a bikini wax in order to seduce the rich man’s son.
As the youngsters preen and pout, the veterans are the saving grace of the film. Rishi Kapoor, playing the gay principal of an exclusive residential school, twirls his umbrellas, sports his sunglasses and crosses his legs without making us groan, even when he chirps, “Toodle oo!” Farida Jalal, playing the dadi of one of the main characters, charms us with her lovely expressions, and the comic timing of the four lines she has. But there’s not much one can do when the onus to bring in laughs is on lines like, “Oh, I’m all wet! Wet, I’m wet!” – when Rishi Kapoor’s character spills his coffee on himself as Ronit Roy, whom he lusts after, enters.
The only emotion I felt, aside from boredom and frustration, was a sort of disturbed nostalgia, upon realising that the annoying kid from 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai' was playing the school slut, chiefly because it reminded me of how much older I’d got since then.