Yesterday's students, today's stars: Celebrating 10 years of 'Student of the Year'


Student Of the Year (SOTY) clocked 10 years on Wednesday and to mark the special occasion, its director, Karan Johar, poured his heart out in an extensive social media post on Instagram.

The film, which was a coming-of-age romantic comedy, starred Alia Bhatt, Sidharth Malhotra and Varun Dhawan. It marked the now renowned actors’ Bollywood debuts and continues to be celebrated, irrespective of the response it received back in the day.

Posting a throwback video which features snippets from the film alongside iconic dialogues of all its lead characters, Johar opened up about what SOTY means to him. "Student of The Year, to me, is a celebration of everything I love about cinema; the youth, the zest, the zing, the music, the energy, the comic timing. Everything I have ever loved about Hindi cinema is a part of SOTY. It's very cliched to say that we are one happy family because we never really are. Since everyone is screaming and trying to get work done. But this felt like I was an old student in high school."

In his note, Johar wrote, "SOTY started of as me making a ‘holiday film’… A film that certainly wasn't intended to move any cinematic mountains but a film that was young, fun and entertaining… What I didn't realise then, was that this film would give me so much more than memories or a commercial success. It would give so much more than a film in my directorial archives. This film gave me three of my most defining relationships."

The filmmaker wrote about how he found a family in Malhotra, Dhawan and Bhatt through the film, adding, "Sid, Varun and Alia went on to become my family besides my mom. They are the three people I think I talk to every single day. I never knew back then that I would have children of my own but my first protective parental feeling was for all three of them. I love you, Sid! I love you Varun and I love you, Alia.” The filmmaker then quipped, “Yes, yes, I know I am not supposed to keep saying that but what the heck? Love is love. I say it to my kids and I want to say it to all three of you…Love you to the moon and back."

Getting nostalgic, he shared some pictures with all three actors in another post with a heart-warming caption, giving subtle nods to Bhatt, Malhotra and Dhawan’s blockbusters. "Down the years with my students of every year! So proud of their cinema journey! It’s no Raaz(i) that they have mastered the ABCD of their craft and emerged as Shershaahs of goodness and talent! Love you!"

10 years of Alia Bhatt

Meanwhile, Bhatt also marked a decade to her acting debut and the film with a heartfelt note on the photo-sharing app. The Highway star posted a sun-kissed photo, writing, “10 years today. I am so, so grateful every single day. And I promise to be better – dream deeper – work harder! Thank you for the magic. Love, love, and only love.”

Daughter of filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt and actor Soni Razdan, Bhatt joined SOTY at the age of 19. She has since starred in several films and received countless accolades. The actor won the Filmfare Critics Award for playing a kidnapping victim in Highway (2014), won three Filmfare Awards for playing a Bihari migrant in the crime drama Udta Punjab (2016), an undercover spy in the thriller Raazi (2018), and the volatile girlfriend of an aspiring rapper in the musical drama Gully Boy (2019).

Following two poorly received films, she gained praise for playing the titular role in Gangubai Kathiawadi and starred in the top-grossing fantasy film Brahmāstra: Part One – Shiva. One of India's highest-paid actors today, she has appeared in Forbes India's Celebrity 100 list since 2014 and was awarded the TIME100 Impact Award in 2022. Bhatt will soon make her Hollywood debut with Heart of Stone.

10 years of Sidharth Malhotra

Malhotra, on the other hand, while recalling his fond memories of late actor Rishi Kapoor in conversation with Pinkvilla, lamented about not being able to celebrate 10 years of SOTY with the veteran. After being shown a picture of Kapoor from the sets of Kapoor and Sons, he smiled and replied, “Lovely. This is our late Mr Rishi Kapoor. And this is Rishi’s sir after hours of makeup. Of course, lovely fond memories. He was in my first film as well. He was part of Student of the Year. If he was here then we all would be celebrating 10 years together.”

Malhotra has also come a long way since SOTY’s release. Before the film, he was a model who made his acting debut with a minor role in television serial Dharti Ka Veer Yodha Prithviraj Chauhan. He then assisted Johar on the 2010 film My Name Is Khan, following which he received his big Bollywood break. And since starring in the teen film, Malhotra has starred in commercially successful films like Hasee Toh Phasee (2014), Ek Villain (2014), and Kapoor & Sons (2016). Following a career downturn, he gained praise for starring as Vikram Batra in the war film Shershaah (2021). He is currently gearing up for his next release Thank God. The actor will also be seen in Mission Majnu, Yodha, and Indian Police Force, a web series by Rohit Shetty.

10 years of Varun Dhawan

Dhawan says his decade-long journey in Bollywood has been a roller-coaster ride, where he has transitioned from being briefly arrogant to listening and learning. The actor delivered consecutive blockbusters after SOTY, with films like Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, Badlapur, ABCD2, Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya and Judwaa 2. The actor, however, also suffered box office setbacks with flicks like Kalank and October. But neither made him lose hope.

According to The Indian Express, during the trailer launch of his upcoming film Bhediya, Dhawan said, “I’ve always kept an ear out to hear what the audience is trying to tell me. It isn’t that I’ve done superb work in every film. If people criticise me, it’s for this. But there is always room to do something better and as an actor, I am aware that I shouldn’t run myself down.”

‘SOTY’ reception

“Brainlessness” and “a lie from beginning to end” are some of the words that critics used to describe the 2012 KJo directorial but the filmmaker has time and again assured he does not regret making the high school drama. In 2014, Johar reminded everyone that the film gave the Indian film industry actors like Malhotra, Dhawan and Bhatt. And even if it wasn’t appreciated by senior critics, it was made to attract teenagers.

He had shared, “I felt like teenagers didn’t know my work. So, I made Student of the Year. I wanted to make a film with good looking people, songs and glamour. I don’t claim to be the ambassador of reality. I had fun doing SOFTY and I don’t regret making it. I had the best time with these three kids. I didn’t want them to be perfect. Rawness has its own appeal. The film is their weakest performance and I feel proud when people tell me that they were better in other films.”

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