SOTY2: Tara Sutaria & Ananya Panday’s debuts suffer at the hands of lazy writing

How do you tap potential without having any in your own self?

Everyone wants a great grand debut, especially when you are a star kid. So after Karan Johar launched Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan and Sidharth Malhotra in his 2012 directorial, Student of the Year, and developed it into a series, the film came to be known as a launch pad – so much so that Kareena Kapoor Khan in one of her interviews has jokingly said that lil Taimur Ali Khan will make his debut with Student of the Year 10, alongside Karan’s twins, Roohi and Yash Johar. Well, I hope this is far from the truth. And I’m not talking in terms of ‘nepotism’. The second instalment in the series, which serves as a launch pad to Ananya Panday and Tara Sutaria is so bland and redundant that we do not want any more of this mess.

My problems with Student of the Year 2 are varied and on multiple levels. First and foremost, it is a waste of talent. By looking at Ananya Panday and Tara Sutaria perform, you cannot tell if they are good actors or not, because their characters are two of the most poorly written characters in the history of Indian Cinema, and we’ve had films like Kya Kool Hain Hum, Thank You, Rascals in the recent past. So what these girls are capable of, whether they have potential and if they do, how do they need to improve is all a big question mark. Secondly, SOTY2 is a waste of resources. Filmmaking is an expensive art, especially the kinds in which the characters wear nothing below Gucci, Off White and Moschino.

There are brilliant scripts rotting at the offices of these producers and they choose to helm a script bound by pathetically lazy writing and ignorance. 

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Student of the Year 2 is casually sexist in almost all places. And where it’s not, it becomes voyeuristic – in the name of Tiger Shroff, Ananya Panday, Tara Sutaria or even Aditya Seal. Song and dance is good to look at, but not when the intention is to show off – moves or muscles. The fact that Manav’s (Seal) sole purpose is to prove to Shroff’s Rohan (K3G reference?) that at the end of the year he will have the Student of the Year trophy in one hand and his girlfriend (Mia, played by Sutaria) in the other is downright degrading and tells you right there where the women in this film belong. The first instalment of the franchise had Alia Bhatt’s Shanaya taking charge of various situations, but here, Mia and Panday’s Shreya are reduced to nothing but flower pots. This film is a celebration of Tiger Shroff. And the worst part about it is that it doesn’t celebrate his absent acting prowess, but rather his muscles, and the way his body moves.

Gender apathy is further displayed in the fact that the SOTY competition is an inter school competition and there are no girls participating in this competition. So, Arshad Sayed (writer) and Punit Malhotra (director), are girls not worthy enough or do you think of them as just eye candy?

It’s 2019 for gods sake, I am not going to clap hands on a “pink is for girls, blue is for boys” joke. And it’s not even acceptable. 

And why does the film not have young men playing young boys? Tiger Shroff is 29 years old, Aditya Seal 31. They’re both playing 20 year old boys, fresh in college. We do not have a dearth of young actors but still need an expressionless Tiger Shroff to helm a film?

And where is the writing? Y’all forgot to write a plot, a story, characters, scenes – everything. The writing is so pathetically laid back that they try to sell Mia and Rohan living in Mussoorie but attending school in Dehradun with a daily commute. Hello, hostels exist, and would’ve been ‘believable’, if not real. Scenes come and go, the actors are doing their thing but absolutely nothing is happening. There is an empty void that you’re trapped in and the only thing you can see is the EXIT sign below the screen. There is supposed to be a love triangle between Rohan, Mia and Shreya but there is no love. The characters don’t have enough meat in them to portray feelings – of love, hate, anger, whatever.

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Talking of the performances, the men, Tiger Shroff and Aditya Seal are the biggest misfits in the film. On one hand, Shroff has nothing going on, on his face. The only thing that is in sync with his expressions is the emptiness of the script. Seal, on the other hand suffers the case of at the hands of dull screen presence. He acts better than Shroff, but isn’t charismatic enough to pull of the bad guy. The girls – Ananya Panday and Tara Sutaria are reduced to being trophies and cheerleaders. They’re a part of the narrative to clap, kiss and dance at the drop of a hat. As I mentioned earlier, their performances cannot be judged because they’re given almost nothing to play with. Even then, both seem to promise potential. Panday has a coruscating screen presence and has fun throughout, but her expressions remain very limited. Sutaria on the other hand, seems like a mature performer who’s been given the sloppiest character ever written. She shows good potential, but it’s too soon to say and a very poorly written character to judge.

The benchmark for SOTY2 was set low.

Student of the Year was not a cinematic genius. But it kept you going. The sequences weren’t brilliant, but the film was watchable and all of this because that film didn’t take itself seriously. SOTY2 demands you take it seriously and that’s where the problem begins and the graph of this film falls. At least the former film had Alia Bhatt’s untapped potential; the sequel promises nothing as such.

SOTY2 could have been a film about so much – family problems in Shreya and Manav’s household, differences between students in colleges due to economic disparities or even modes of transportation between Mussoorie and Dehradun would’ve set an interesting premise.

Finally, are we going to talk about how problematic the Hook Up Song is? It’s 2019. Of course, with dating apps, there is a hook up culture in today’s youth, but is that something we need to promote by a way of films? I don’t think so.

All in all, #StudentOfTheYear2 bears the burden of lazy writing, ignorant research and gender apathy along with poor performances.

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