It isn’t a bad idea to turn a hit film into a franchise and Bollywood has always been its proponent. But it ruins the movie watching experience when you start questioning the whole idea behind making an installment, particularly when its predecessor is still remembered even after seven years of its release. “Student of the Year 2” a.k.a “SOTY2,” directed by Puneet Malhotra and helmed by Dharma Productions, is so unapologetically stripped off novelty that it doesn’t even qualify as a bargain basement version of “Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar” (JJWS). Novelty is only seen in the shortened names of its key characters. Rohan is called Ro and Mridula becomes Mia!
“SOTY2” doesn’t even have its heart at the right place. Blending the elements of a love triangle, the clash between the rich and the poor against the backdrop of a campus rivalry, which had so well connected with the audience 27 years back, the film feels like a misstep when it splurges so much in its production design and gorgeous outfits but invests in a script that’s not even worth a penny.
The script is as aimless as its protagonist – Rohan Sachdev a.k.a. Ro (played by Tiger Shroff). Ro’s only aim is to fulfill the dream of his girlfriend, Mia (Tara Sutaria), who we are only told is a passionate dancer (but we don’t get to witness much of that). Ro pursues Mia to St.Teresa in Dehradun, an institution for the affluent by managing a sports scholarship leaving behind the humble Pishorilal Chamandas College in Mussoorie.
The plot follows a familiar trajectory that was seen in JJWS’s warring groups – Rajputs and the Model college, who fight for the coveted inter-college championship trophy. Ro is bullied by the Teresa fraternity, the Randhawa siblings – Shreya (Ananya Pandey) who later falls for him and Manav (Aditya Seal) the chief antagonist and defending champion of the trophy.
There is deception, heartbreak, and an intensified focus on sports, particularly Kabbadi, that the two groups indulge in and fight for in the finale. As it has been obvious from the trailers, in the whole affair of things, it’s Tiger Shroff who gets a reasonable character arc. Shroff is constantly sincere in his efforts and shines in dance and action, but romance or comedy is clearly not his forte. He is good in the serious portions as well and the makers also ensure that he is always on the move – be it swinging, gyrating, jumping or kicking – basically, defying Newton’s law of gravity. Much of the heavy lifting is done by him and the camera flatteringly caresses his granite biceps and chiseled abs.
Ananya Pandey shows promise and exudes spunk as the spoilt brat but seems saddled with an underwritten role. Wish Arshad Sayed’s writing had given more scope to her damaged equation with her tyrant dad and bullying brother. She is an ‘enfant terrible’ but seeks comfort in her pet pug, Rusty, when emotionally low.
Tara Sutaria is the film’s weakest link – most of the time, she is deficient of the required expressions and let me not get started on her acting chops. It is a shame that capable actors like Manoj Pahwa, Ayesha Raza, and Gul Panag are wasted in ill-sketched parts. Sameer Soni doesn’t get a line beyond “Goooooood Morrnnning Studenttts…”
“SOTY2” is gorgeously lensed, thanks to Ravi K Chandran’s cinematography that sumptuously covers the hilly landscapes and is set in a sprawling architectural piece. The songs are passable except the peppy ‘The Jawani Song.’
There are no memorable moments here, and it can be only watched if you are a Tiger Shroff fan. I will go with 1.5 and an additional 0.5 star for him – so that’s 2 stars out of 5 for “Student of the Year 2.”