190509 top of the class
Image Credit: Supplied

He’s never attended college or been a part of a convocation ceremony, but Bollywood actor Tiger Shroff seems to have made up for that lost opportunity.

The ripped son of veteran actor Jackie Shroff is now the alumnus of one of the fanciest, albeit fictional, colleges shown in Hindi films.

Shroff plays the lead hero, Rohan, in director Punit Malhotra’s absurdly wealthy preppy drama ‘Student Of The Year 2’ (‘SOTY 2’), out in the UAE cinemas this May 9.

“This was my way of making up for not going to college,” said Shroff with a laugh. The actor, 29, claims he got his acting job as a leading man in ‘Heropanti’ as soon as he finished high school and therefore missed the opportunity to go to a regular college. But being admitted into the coveted ‘SOTY’ universe isn’t child’s play and is a prestigious feat for any aspiring actor.

190509 shroff and panday
Shroff and Panday in ‘Student of the Year 2’. Image Credit: Supplied

Now for the uninitiated, the admission to the gilded franchise — that began six years ago — isn’t easy. The original ‘SOTY’ — starring the fresh-faced trio Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan and Siddarth Malhotra — taught us that this Karan Johar production is littered with crazy rich, pampered Indian students fighting rabidly to win an inconsequential intra-college contest.

Your merit in the ‘SOTY’ world is naturally enhanced if your brawn and beauty outweigh your brain.

In Johar’s outlandish world, the students from ‘SOTY’ look as if they belong in a hedonistic music video rather than a drab classroom.

Point that out to Shroff that an average, awkward college goer rarely looks the way he does in the ‘SOTY 2’ trailer, and he — who comes off as a modern-day Tarzan leaping off benches — gives us a serviceable response.

“What you see here is a fun school. It’s a school that you want everyone to be a part of. We wanted everyone to fall in love with it,” said Shroff in that interview.

The students of ‘SOTY 2’ are highly desirable who wear their hearts on ridiculously expensive sleeves.

190509 shroff
Shroff, Sutaria, Aditya Seal and Panday. Image Credit: Supplied

Agreed that most Bollywood musicals are realism-averse and laced with fantasy and frills, but aren’t ‘SOTY’ makers pulling at that thread too strongly?

The tropes — associated with SOTY — are evident in its breezy, glamour-soaked second instalment. Think likeable new faces, bratty diva-in-training behaviour, designer wardrobes owned by over-indulged students, silly intra-college dance contests and heartbreaks aplenty.

In ‘SOTY 2’, the contest heats up when the students of St Teresa’s High School compete to win the inter-collegiate trophy called the Dignity Cup. Sounds trite? Shroff disagrees as he valiantly jumps to ‘SOTY’s’ defence.

“But there’s a strong emotional content in our film and a strong message too. You will see many beats in this film,” confirmed Shroff. His character,

Rohan, is the classic underdog in this tale.

“It’s not some complex, out-of-the box role. I play a normal happy-go-lucky guy who gets into a posh school from a poor sports-driven school on a scholarship. How does he adjust to a larger-than-life school is explored? How does go about the new, unfamiliar glossy world is what the movie is all about,” said Shroff. Apart from acclimatising to a new swanky campus, he’s also the object of desire of two beautiful women — played by Ananya Panday and Tara Sutaria.

“Now, that [being wooed by two women] was a dream come true… But it’s limited to the film alone sadly,” said Shroff.

A buffed-up Shroff isn’t the sole attraction on why you must surrender to the drama.

“I wasn’t some senior actor… The girls were so well-prepared,” said Shroff.

While their on-screen squeeze gives his co-actors full marks on dedication, tabloid! has whipped up a cheat sheet before you venture into the cinemas …

1. ‘SOTY 2’ spells the cinematic debut of Ananya Panday, comic relief Chunkey Pandey’s daughter, and Tara Sutaria. They have been groomed by the infamous “flag-bearer of nepotism”, producer Johar, who takes great pride in his discoveries. Panday plays the quintessential mean-girl Shreya and is a portrait of privilege and narcissism, while Tara plays the good-hearted, ambitious Mia who finds Rohan appealing. A scene which shows the affluent Shrey painting Rohan’s bike pink “like a princess” was problematic on many levels, but let’s not judge this film just yet.

2. Did you ever think that you will ever witness Will Smith grooving on stage with girls in school uniforms in a sudsy Hindi film? Well, if you are watching ‘SOTY 2’, then you can definitely drink in the sight of this award-winning Hollywood talent busting a string of complicated Bollywood dance moves. In a video web series uploaded on Facebook documenting his adventures in India, the acting legend described his brush with Bollywood films as “spectacular”.

“In the beginning, I came, I was such a mess! It was a whole lot harder than I thought it was going to be. But it was absolutely a bucket list moment! Man, I’ve been in this business for over 30 years, and this moment right here is reconnecting me back to why I do this,” said Smith in a series of Facebook videos.

Johar also told reporters in Mumbai during the ‘SOTY 2’ trailer launch that Smith and him go a long way back.

190509 sidharth malhotra
Sidharth Malhotra, Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan in ‘Student of the Year’ (2012) Image Credit: Supplied

“Fortunately, I know Will Smith for a few years now, and when his team got in touch with us, we were shooting for ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’. He came and rehearsed for ‘Radhaa’ [a song from 2012’s ‘Student of the Year’], and there is synergy between the two films. He came and shot that,” said Johar at a recent press conference.

3. Cameos is what makes a Karan Johar glossy productions tick. ‘SOTY 2’ doesn’t disappoint on that front either. Alia Bhatt, who became an overnight sensation after her turn in the original ‘SOTY’, shakes a leg with Shroff’s character Rohan in ‘SOTY 2’. Their fun number, called ‘The Hook-Up Song’, is fun and terrifically trite.

4. Tara Sutaria is a former Disney darling. Before her film debut, she was a part of shows including ‘The Suite Life of Karan & Kabir’ and ‘Best Of Luck Nikki’.

“There wasn’t any fear in any sense at all. I think I have really been fortunate to be doing what I have done before ‘Student Of the Year 2’... For most of my life, I have been performing and I have been an ambassador for Disney. I have been a part of this line of work for a while,” Sutaria said in an interview with IANS. Actor Aditya Seal also makes his debut as Manav. Not much is know about the fourth player in this messy love triangle.

5. ‘SOTY 2’ takes a trip down the memory lane and recreates old hits of legends like RD Burman. If ‘SOTY’ had Bhatt dancing to ‘Disco Deewane’, the new instalment has Shroff dancing to ‘Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani’. Some call re-hashing remixes as a sign of creative bankcruptcy, but Johar swears that all of ‘SOTY’ films will have a retro song from the past.

Don’t Miss It!

‘Student Of The Year 2’ is out in the UAE on May 9.