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Karan Johar is back to school, 14 years afterKuch Kuch Hota Haimade him a Bollywood top draw. Candyfloss rules again, designer hunks and PYTs preen and pose, and if this film was made in 4D you could probably smell the bubblegum flavour all along.

Alia Bhatt, Siddharth Malhotra and Varun Dhawan-  Bollywood’s latest babe and babas- have also been amply touted as the next big things during the film’s run up to release. If Karan was out to create a package that wholly pushes the GenNow tempo, Student Of The Year (SOTY for the cool effect) has little USP beyond its pretty cast.

Rensil D’Silva’s screenplay appears to be focussed on creating individual scenes that let the young stars act cutesy cool, never mind what high-school emotion is being played out. A functional plot gets going with typical adolescent emotions. Love, heartbreak, peer pressure, classroom stress and buddy bonding are given token space- as much as is needed to keep the feel-good tempo up and running.

Look at the casting of two guys and a girl and you know the script will sooner or later veer into familiar love triangle terrain. But K.Jo must have been aware a simple triangle tangle won’t work in Bollywood anymore. Considerable runtime sets up a rivalry between the two heroes before they become friends.

The heroes, Abhimanyu (Siddharth Malhotra) and Rohan (Varun Dhawan), are chalk and cheese. Abhi is your boy next door with big dreams- face of what the campus calls the ‘Bata gang’, typifying middle-class vibes. Varun, son of India’s biggest tycoon (Ram Kapoor), leads the ‘Tata types’ in campus.

Class divide, however, hardly attracts significance in such a designer set-up. So, Abhi and Ro become friends after an early tiff.

To stuff around two and half hours with fluff, you need a spot of mush of course. Varun’s girlfriend Shanaya (Alia Bhatt) is drawn towards Abhi, opening up a conflict that escalates as the school gears up for the annual Student of the Year contest. It’s a ridiculous contest that Dean Yoginder Vashisht (Rishi Kapoor) touts as a three-way test of academics (students unravelling riddles Da Vinci Code-style), arts (dancing to remixed Disco Deewane beats) and athletics(boys and girls pitted together in swimming, biking and running competitions).

Strange, but you don’t mind the film despite its unapologetic brainlessness. The key lies in Karan’s storytelling. For all its pulp packaging,SOTYdoesn’t have a single dull moment. The greenhorn trio are a treat to watch too, primary reasons why you’ll love the film. Karan also adds the right props to grab eyeballs- Rishi Kapoor’s Dean Vashisht gets a gay spin and the veteran pulls it off with comical restraint. Kajol and Boman Irani get delightful cameos. They all fit fine into Planet Picture Perfect, as only K.Jo creates it.

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