Student of the Year (2012) Film Review

Director Karen Johar brings us a high-school drama filled with sparks of romance and youth culture. With high expectations before-hand, I was slightly disappointed with the overall film.

The film begins with a conventional structure of the present day, where a group of friends reunite at the hospital to see their former principle ‘Dean Yoginder Vassisht (Rishi Kapoor). With the audience wondering how these people met and what their stories are, Sudo (Kayoze Irani) begins the story, by revisiting the past. This which fades into the initial beginning of the film, where we are introduced to St Terea’s High School, the main location.

We are slowly introduced to each character, all portraying the stereotypical ‘high school kids’. There’s the popular girl, the popular

Friends or enemies?

guy, the geek, the tomboy, the funny one and of course the sweet guy. Though the character development is informative, allowing us to fully know each person. The film is based around the core idea of “who gets the girl” and “who’ll win the trophy”. New actress Alia Bhatt plays the typical girly, girl of ‘Shaynaya Singhania’. The girl that everyone strives to go prom with. She is introduced with a Bollywood track, in which perfectly captures her bratty attitude, hence the lyrics listing famous, fashion brands. Likewise, Varun Dhawan as Rohan Nanda is stereotypically portrayed as the “hot” guy who has everything. Shoved in our faces is his red Lamborghini, in which we do nothing but despise his stuck-up persona. During this scene, we are introduced to yet another character ‘Abinmanyu’ short for ‘Abhi’ (Sidharth Malhortra) whom plays the hero and teaches Rohan a lesson. Relating to all our past school experiences, we begin to like Abi’s character, thus hating the bully.

Heat between Rohan and Abhi begins here. Their hate for each other is as equal to their love for each other. With fighting several times and trying to get each other back, we also see them be the best of friends. However, betrayal continues to do its job. The build up of the final test for who is fit to be the ‘Student of the Year’ gets to the worst of them. Vengeful, selfish minds and payback invades their focus, where this isn’t a competition anymore, but a true test of survival of the fittest.

Abhi and Rohan

Karan Johar does a pretty good job in fitting in all the high-school elements. We are shown the true stake of loyal friendship to heart breaking struggles. Of how a single trophy can ruin all things perfect and create monsters instead of humans. Credit here


definitely goes to ‘Sudo’ for powerfully stating such a memorable dialogue to the Dean. We praise his courage, but also sympathise for people like him out there. Choosing one person from thousands of students and labeling them “the best” is ridiculously pathetic. It’s a powerful message, in which they show both the effects of competition can do to you. These unnecessary rules and competitions are scattered around the world, in which we are brain washed through disseminating ideologies. Student of the Year questions these rules; how is a winning piece of gold metal better than friendship? A placard saying “I’m the best” is what everyone strives for. Is this really why we should go to school? So people higher than us can simply stand up and tell us who’s the best and not?

As well as school morals and cold facts of the education system, we are shown how support is valuable. Rohan’s father cold-heartedly, bullies his son. Mocking his talent stating, “how are you going to go far with a guitar”? These scenes undeniably represent traditional values from parents in India and are well acted out. The cold tension between the father and son is tempered, whilst the poor mother passively by stands. You’d think a rich family would be happy. Think again.

Rohan and his father

Overall, Student of the year shows a true take on school life today. The unconditional friendship and battles of victory truly testifies the meaning of love. Though, I have to admit that I was disappointed due to lack of originality and intake of stereotypical characters, making it cliché. There were unnecessary scenes, delaying the pace. Though the moralistic values encountered were considerable.

You’ll just have to watch the film to find out who wins the race? But is it worth it?

My Rating: 6.5/10

Written by: Meera Darji


4 thoughts on “Student of the Year (2012) Film Review

  1. I don’t disagree with you about the cliche’d characters. However, I think the story was very unique. I think getting caught up with ‘who gets the girl’ was something we, as the Bollywood audience got distracted by, considering that’s always the focal point usually. But I found the story of SOTY to be more about the two mail leads, than ay love triangle. The triangle was just a plot point, the catalyst between the rift. But otherwise, the story is about these two alpha males and how a point of both their journeys clashed with each other.

    I also liked that SOTY went against a lot of the usual formulas of Indian cinema in this. The homosexual characters as comic relief, messing with the dynamics of the typical rich kid / poor kid angle. A lot of things done differently than we’re used to.

    Excellent Review, although I would’ve scored it a little higher.

    1. Thanks for having a read and I totally respect your opinion. I did like how the two male characters had this ‘approach’ on their friendship, especially being the opposite. I was extremely glad that it covered the main issue of the education system, thus how everyones fighting to be at the top, questioning whether its fair or not? Though the aspect where the rich family is somewhat captured to look down upon was appreciated. In which I agree how the perspective this time was changed. Yet I believe that this still is overcome by the stereotypical characters, where to an extent the film became far too predictable. Thanks for commenting 🙂

  2. No worries. I love reading your stuff. Especially AFTER I’ve written my review for something already. 😉
    I get what you’re saying. I guess I expected the stereotypical characters. I don’t think you can do a high school / college movie without the stereotypical characters. However, I think SOTY had a lot of them break stereotype and have some sort of redeeming factor by the end.

    – the rich kid bully ended up being the artist we all sympathized for.
    – the poor kid from humble origins was the arrogant and ambitious dick. (usually it’s flipped with the rich kid)
    – the side kick to the bully grew some balls by the end.
    – the heroine’s best friend character showed some bitchy shades, because, why should Shanaya get all the attention?
    – the monologue from Sudo, the effeminate fat kid, was just brilliant!

    Those to me were the redeeming factors of the movie. In terms of what is usually stereotypical in Bollywood movies, I feel SOTY went against the conventional stereotypes. Now if it created another set, that’s up for debate.

    1. Thank you for commenting! Yeah I do agree with what your saying, and definitely those were the highlights of the Film. Having said that, the fact that it had stereotypical characters, made it too cliche and sort of predictable, therefore that was my only disappointment. Yet after what you’ve said, you do have a point, as during the film it diverts from the conventional plot where the characters are opposite to what we expect. But its still a great film and Sudo was awesome!! 🙂

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