Abbas Tyrewala's flick worked well because the manner in which he built up the momentum to the climax was methodical. In the end, just as the girl who had never met Genelia's character was eager to meet her, so were the audience. In 3 IDIOTS, Rajkumar Hirani had Fungsuk Wangdu, cleverly hidden, who stole the thunder. It also addressed a real issue on college campuses and the pressures students are subjected to from parents.
SOTY has shades of these two films only in presentation. Its treatment and subject is different. The narrative is not as fluid and can be best described as jerky with too many plots and plans in the initial 20 minutes. Later, it does sober down, but still keeps going back and forth.
The story here is about a school Saint Teresa set in Dehradun. Their Dean (Rishi Kapoor) almost 25 years ago had initiated a Student of the Year Trophy where they all compete through four stages - An IQ test, Treasure Hunt, Dance and Triathlon. At each level, students are eliminated until the final eight vie for the title at the Triathlon.
The film begins with the race ending and a glimpse of the Dean. It then moves on to Pseudo (Kayoze Irani) coming on screen with the narrative. A phone call in the middle of the night gets him to call all friends who have not met in 10 years. Something happened where all went their way never to communicate with one another. But now, their Dean is seriously ill and Kayo is entrusted the task to get all his friends to meet at the hospital.
From here, the story is told among the four friends who meet first, who are then joined by the main protagonists Abhimanyu (Siddharth Malhotra), Shanaya Singhania (Alia Bhatt) and Rohan Nanda (Varun Dhawan) all making their debuts.
SOTY is full-on candy floss - 90 per cent gloss and 10 per cent content.
The interest now moves on to the three debutants. All three give a confident performance, including Kayoze Irani (Boman Irani's son), who too is making his debut. His role, however, is badly structured and within the limitations, he does well.
Alia Bhatt has that 'X' factor which will take her places. There's not much of a scope performance wise, but given the scenes, she looks glamorous when she has too and also emotes reasonably well.
Siddharth Malhotra as the underdog, the new lad who joins school, too pitches in with a decent performance. Varun Dhawan's performance improves with every scene and by the end, he stands out. All these three grow on you as the film progresses and by the time the film ends, you cannot but fall in love with them.
The music is peppered with hits from the past, cleverly remixed. So you can't go wrong there. But there was a lot this film could offer the younger audience whch Karan Johar is targeting.
I don't know why, but I get this strange feeling that the director was not fully involved or attached to SOTY. The mark of intensity that one has seen in his past films is missing. It's like a grand wedding reception with a poor food spread.
Nevertheless, it will go well with the younger audience who he has catered to.