Reviewing the Reviews: Student Of The Year

22 Oct,2012

Student Of The Year

Key Cast: Alia Bhatt, Sidharth Malhotra, Varun Dhawan

Written By: Rensil D’Silva

Directed By: Karan Johar

Produced By: Hiroo Yash Johar and Gauri Khan


By the time Student Of The Year released with its high-powered promotion, everybody knew a Karan Johar film was on the way.


There is a way of viewing a typical and unabashedly escapist Bollywood film – you have to suspend all sense of reality. But, as so many critics have noted, even Bollywood aimed-for-NRI fantasies can get to be too much. The film got mostly condescending reviews with 2 or 3 stars.


Anupama Chopra of Hindustan Times commented, “Karan Johar’s forte is excess. He creates fantastical worlds brimming with beautiful people and expensive things and yet anchors them in high emotion. His films work as both designer porn and soap opera. The pleasure you derive from his films is directly connected to your tolerance of candy floss. I’ve always been seduced. But the danger of candy floss is that it can quickly become vacuous and over-designed.”


Rajeev Masand of ibnlive was sarcastic: “The hardest job on a Karan Johar film set must belong to the cleaners, who I imagine spend most of the day on their knees scrubbing floors, dusting furniture, and basically making sure everything is spotless. The director’s new film, Student of the Year, is set on an impossibly chic campus where good-looking teenagers are invariably breaking into song or breaking into fights. Yet you’ll never spot a carelessly strewn cola can or even a stray sheet of paper lying around in the corridors or in the canteen. Oh those poor cleaners!”


Sukanya Verma of wrote, “Treatment is Karan Johar’s forte and it is what makes his first film with rank newcomers, despite the absence of a logical plot, so fresh and zany. Unlike KKHH, which had the advantage of two superstars and one dazzling aspirant, neither of SOTY’s three key players are seasoned actors. Incisive as he is, the filmmaker is well aware of the strengths and limitations of his inexperienced cast, concealing their inadequacies to imply that strange allure of rawness while drawing on their eager energy to convey a refreshing charm.”


Shubhra Gupta of Indian Express was left cold. “I have a bone to pick with Karan Johar, who invites us, once again, to witness a bunch of young students do their thing. Not because this is yet another impossibly swish ‘school’ which bears little resemblance to the posh-est educational institutions we have in the country: after the seismic shock of that first Riverdale-high-school-clone in ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’, anything was possible. Not because we are asked to believe that these beautifully-toned, manicured, polished, perfectly-attired creatures are ‘students’ in their final year of school: a KJo film will faint at the thought of scruffiness, where even a muddy dab on a sweatshirt after a strenuous game of football appears artfully daubed. And so what if they don’t look as youthful as they ought, as long as they are good-looking, right?”


In contrast, Madhureeta Mukherjee of TOI gushed, “It’s KJo-Wala Love! Served fresh and piping hot from the Dharma college canteen of romance. And it’s a high (class) school that you’d never want to miss a lecture of, ever. Except that it has its own set of Karan rules. Read the prospectus: 1. Leave your text-books at home but ensure you’re carrying your designer bags and heels. 2. Drive a Ferrari to school, or if you’re poorer, take a bike. 3. Dating, mating, separating and love lessons shall be part of the syllabus. 4. Girls, don your shortest minis, and guys, rip off the shirts. Welcome to St. Teresa’s. Rest assured, it’ll be a well-rounded entertainment experience.”


Janhavi Samant of Mid-day hissed, “The students of the prestigious St Teresa school in Dehradun all exist in some strange North Indian bubble – male students show off their super-toned bodies and finely-honed muscles while swimming, running or dancing to wedding sangeet with their kurta buttons open. The heroine and her rival’s skirts are smaller than their bags and they continually hover around the said muscular heroes vying for their attention.”


Karan Anshuman of Mumbai Mirror quipped, “Ah Bollywood. A genre so escapist, so unshackled to reality that it’d give JRR Tolkien a complex. And if the genre may be compared to The Lord of the Rings, then Karan Johar is its Gandalf. He waves a staff and sets the bar.  Make no mistake, I say this with utmost reverence because this is what the world (and I mean an audience that includes and goes beyond Indians and NRIs) expects and wants when they pay ticket money for a ‘Bollywood film’. And nobody does it better than Mr Johar. So here we go. Rich kids in designer labels? Check. Establishing characters through song and dance? Check. Superbly filmed wedding sequence? Check. Manipulative writing and background score designed to trigger your tear ducts? Check. A polished product in all technical departments? Check. Aim to make the film as unreal as possible? Check.”


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