Student of the Year (2012): Them tinkling ivories do the job

87. Student of the Year (2012) — My first Hindi movie … of the year!!! What’s happened to me?! Anyway, I suspect Sayesha and I have become one Bolly-brain, for I concur with just about everything in her review of this Karan Johar jaunt here. So, what else to say …

I’m not sure whether there’s a connection to be drawn between the attempt in KANK to depict infidelity that an audience would find attractive, but here it works naturally, believably, maybe because the stakes are outside of the marriage covenant, and that it’s confused teens (um, unusually muscular teens, but oh well) we’re watching here, not cranky adults.

I thought the female lead, Alia Bhatt, looked way too … young for the posing she was contracted to do. (She seriously reminds me of Pooja Ruparel, who played the disappointed naïf aka Simran’s sister in DDLJ.) If not for the red lipstick, she gave me the vibe of playing in her taitai momma’s closet. (Girl, you’ll need a chiropractor if you keep heaving those designer bags around.) But yes, she was a sweet ‘un when she was playing the sweet ‘un, not a pampered princess. I wasn’t even sure whether the audience was supposed to like her! Shanaaayyyyaaaa … Maybe she was supposed to be modelled after the daft sweetness of Alicia Silverstone in Clueless.

Filmmakers have to earn their audience’s tears, and there definitely was too much of an attempt to drag them out from our ducts smack at the beginning of the film. The violins felt manipulative and maudlin even as their strains cascaded round the ailing dean. But oh, the sparse, tinkling ivories set over the taut, breathless silence of discovery by Abhimanyu (played by the incandescent Sidharth Malhotra) that Bhatt’s Shanaaayyyyaa, in spite of her twirly skirts and pouty lips, was his type after all? Very well done.

The other male lead, Varun Dhawan, played the sweetly dense tortured princeling Rohan Nanda. Didn’t care much for his sculpted eyebrows and V-shaped form — why do all the leading men have the same body shape, while the women are all varied? reverse discrimination in Bollywood? — but he played his cards patiently, and made his character last the distance. So, I took the opposite path from Sayesha in terms of character-likage. (And is it really true that the little girl in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai is the laid-back bee-yotch in the movie? I cannot recognise her at all!)

I did not care for the songs much, and the most interesting one — on mugging for exams — wasn’t subtitled. Ah well. I can go without ever watching another glittery disco dance sequence (or close-up of waxed V-shaped forms) again! Get the K-pop choreographers in, man … Hmm, wonder what would happen in a Korean-Indian collaboration … both do best in family-focused dramas and “melo” in one means “masala” in the other … there should be a melo-masala brow-less tragi-comedic dance-off item song somewhere somehow someday.

Overall, a popcorn-able watch that is entertaining enough, but might have benefited from being less shiny (waxy?) if Karan Johar would only tone down the glitz and introduce ‘earthier’ tones to his palette … though this could have the attendant danger of him doing a Derelicte.

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