Freeze Frame #157: Student of the Year

There is so much in Student of the Year that falls in the spectrum between blech and meh that it is a pleasant surprise when something manages to grab me by the short hairs. That moment comes towards the end, when Kayoze Irani lets his teacher have it with both barrels.

It’s not so much whether he’s right about all this, or whether, in any plausible universe, it would’ve taken twenty five years of this competition before someone told the dean what was wrong with it, or that the one delivering the monologue is supposedly a minor character in the grand scheme of things. I think it’s quite simply the fact that, for one glorious moment, a character in this movie seemed real. For all the fighting and the posturing between the major characters, I never really felt like I was watching actual human beings on screen. Even Rishi Kapoor, who seemed to be having the time of his life while doing the best he could with his Waldo-Weatherbee-meets-Dumbledore characterization, came across as lovably cartoonish. As a result, even when the film got heavier as it progressed, I couldn’t relate to it. Even all the teenage angst that these kids are supposed to be suffering from (the subplots relating to family matters collectively play like a Madhur Bhandarkar expose on parenthood) and the big confrontations are played out at a muted pitch. But when Irani says to Rishi Kapoor, “You of all people ought to have known better,” you finally hear the scream that the film was building towards.

As beautiful as Siddharth Malhotra, Varun Bhawan and Alia Bhatt looked — and some reviewers got it right when they said that these three are unlikely to ever look better than this on screen — I think the one who walked away with the author-backed role was Kayoze Irani. And if a film is a portrait of its maker, I’d say this was Karan Johar’s boldest brushstroke yet.



4 thoughts on “Freeze Frame #157: Student of the Year

    • 😀 The thought occurred to me as well.

      These days I’ve been busying myself with Baradwaj Rangan’s book (I’m taking my time with it), Helen Mirren’s Prime Suspect and a whole lot of other stuff. Will blog about some of it soon. (And no, I have no excuse for breaking that routine and watching this.)

      But read this and think about what he’s doing with SOTY and suddenly, there seems to be…. well, subtext. (I was kinda reluctant to use that word, given how often in comes up in context of Conversations… but there you go.)

  1. Goda says:

    I think what Kayoze Irani talks about in the climax is directors way of saying ” I know what I am doing. I intentionally made a crappy movie. “

    • You may be right.

      Okay, here’s my theory on Karan Johar (based, as usual, on as little data as I absolutely have to use): He knows exactly what he is aiming for in all his movies. That doesn’t necessarily mean he doesn’t look back on it and regret that he made them a certain way.

      So, two years from now, he might laugh with you on this, but at this point, I think he’s being fairly earnest.


      ps: My other, more plausible theory is that you’re just upset that it doesn’t have SRK in it 😉

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