Student of The Year 2 Screams Androcentric Bias

Student of the Year 2 was a much awaited film not only for its franchise value but for the fact that it marked the debut of two female actors – Ananya Pandey and Tara Sutaria. A fair number of critics were excited to watch how Ananya Pandey ( who was up till now only known as actor Chunky Pandey’s daughter) and Tara Sutaria (who has starred in a fair number of Disney comedy TV series such as Suite Life of Karan and Kabir and Jassie) would fare in terms of their acting skills. Sadly, the girls are given no more to do in the film other than wear designer clothes and shriek alternatively “Rohan, I love you” at different points of time.

Actually, both the female leads did quite a good job at playing their characters in the film. Much better than Tiger Shroff. Despite the script doing no effort to flesh out the personalities of the female characters they are able to bring out the idiosyncrasies of their characters quite well. Ananya Pandey really does stand out in her screen presence and the humour she provides. It is the script of the film which is hugely flawed. Unlike the first Student of the Year which was a commentary on a whole elite college’s (St. Teresa) life – including the girls, the dean, the sidekicks, their parents- this one is solely a Tiger Shroff display of unreal airflips. In fact this film has little else. It was extremely disheartening to watch that despite a stellar location, eye-catching costumes and great overall cast, each scene of the movie was only focused on how to display Tiger Shroff’s muscles from different angles.

Keeping its prequel in mind, a viewer is in any case not expecting realism when he/she goes to watch Student of the Year which shows Karan Johar’s version of a college. What the first movie had was a tight and funny script, lots of drama and the biographies of many students which were albeit stereotypes to some extent, but believable personality stereotypes. Student of the Year 2 only follows Rohan Sachdeva’s (Tiger Shroff) journey. Everybody else he encounters– love interests, opponents, friends– are mere accessories with no personality detailing in the movie. Tiger Shroff’s character can be paralleled to Siddharth Malhotra’s Abhimanyu from SOTY 1, in terms of being a small town boy on a sports scholarship. Whereas Abhimanyu faced both successes and failures, Tiger Shroff’s character is like a Flyting Jatt inside a college. At some point the movie feels like a Chota Bheem episode in St Teresa where one is just waiting for Tiger Shroff to arrive and display his superlative fighting/ flying/ dancing/ kabaddi skills.

Perhaps the director Punit Malhotra and script writer Arshad Sayed need to realise that the precise reason their film is already not doing well in the box office and critics’ ratings alike, is because audiences no longer enjoy a movie full of male chauvinism where women don’t compete in real sports and are content dancing and cheerleading from the sidelines. Tiger Shroff’s superhuman physical abilities coupled with his monotonous acting make this film barely tolerable even as a one time watch. Tiger Shroff’s physical fitness is commendable but the director has inserted Baahubali-like stunts in the movie without the same mythical setting. Such a super-hero type motif doesn’t work in the setting of present day Dehradun.

The launching of the two female debutantes has been compromised this time because they have been given close to no part in the movie. Their characters are even more poorly developed than Shanaya’s (Alia Bhatt) in the prequel. They are shown as having no agency as characters unless one of the male protagonists enables it for them. Sadly, both Ananya and Tara display far better acting skills than Tiger Shroff. Tiger Shroff has a commendable personality and gives out warm vibes outside of films, but he tends to bring exactly the same acting, gait, way-of-speaking to every role that he does. This film’s androcentric bias goes so far that it reduces all men besides Tiger Shroff’s character to stereotypes of masculinity capable of displaying no vulnerability. Aditya Seal (Playing Manav Randhawa, Rohan’s rival) really looks and plays his part extremely well despite being given a mere rich-boy stereotype. One questions why he is not in all of the main promotional posters of the movie as the film is just an ego-battle between him and Tiger Shroff where Ananya Pandey (Shreya) and Tara Sutaria (Mia) are ego-trophies without any rivalry, drama, gossip or ambition of their own.

The supporting cast consisting of veteran actors Gul Panag (sports coach) , Samir Soni(Dean of St. Teresa) and Manoj Pahwa (Dean of Pishaurilal College) are spectacular but are not given a chance within the script to develop as their dialogues are scarce. In comparison Student of The Year 1 was able to capitalize on their veteran actors Rishi Kapoor, Ram Kapoor and Ronit Roy and supporting characters such as Dimpi, Pseudo, Tanya, Shruti and Jeet to provide a backbone for the film. All supporting characters are nameless in the sequel.

In the modern, liberal, rich and elite world of St. Teresa, this implicit androcentric plot doesn’t work at all. The movie would have been far better if Tiger Shroff was removed from it and the story was about the girls competing in a real sport against each other. After watching the film I thought its name should be Flying Jatt of the Year as its not about a college, only about Tiger’s flying moves as though a movie was made purely to show his stunts just like Sonam Kapoor makes movies purely to show her wardrobe but even those turn out far better than this disaster.

Picture Courtesy- India Today

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