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Diligent students

The ‘Student of the Year’ sequel trio may have big shoes to fill in, but their enthusiasm and camaraderie more than makes up for the frenzied expectations, writes RAJIV VIJAYAKAR

He’s been on the movie prowl for almost five years now, going from strength (two hits in Heropanti and Baaghi, a strong fan-base and his incomparable talents at dance and action) to strength (a blockbuster in Baaghi 2, a humongous fan following and definite stardom). Tiger Shroff has grown from Jackie Shroff’scub to being a tiger on his own, etching out a distinct identity among the GenY heroes.

In his new release, Student Of The Year 2 — Ananya Panday and Tara Sutaria — exude charisma. Tara, we grant, has been a VJ and child actor in Big Bada Boom and the sitcoms The Suite Life of Karan & Kabir and Oye Jassie on Disney Channel. Trained in classical ballet, modern dance and Latin American dances in UK, she has been a professional singer since the age of seven for operas and competitions and has been nominated for awards in diverse categories. She has done quite a bit of theatre, but this is her debut film. Ananya Panday, warm, gregarious, is the daughter of Chunky Panday, and is the latest in a line of star kids who have been launched by producer Karan Johar. The two girls are absolutely in awe of their leading man, who they feel leads by example. Chirps Ananya, “Because of Tiger, I did not take it easy in my first film.
I could never rest or chill between shots, because Tiger, though many films old, was always rehearsing, so I thought I must too! And that was lucky, because I think that I levelled up too. I was the only one of the two girls who was totally new, after all.”

Breaking the ice

Tara adds, “My first shot was for my love song with Tiger. Some 2,000 fans had come to watch, screaming wildly for Tiger, and that really gave a cool vibe! During the song, I sprained my foot, and he gently massaged it. That broke the ice between us and I was glad that I found a great dance partner in films. He is so chilled-out on the sets and I am lucky to have him as my first co-star.” About each other, the two girls laugh and say that they became the best of friends as soon as they met — on their flight to Mussoorie. “Ananya is very talkative, and I am kind of reserved, and you know what they say about opposites attracting each other?” smiles Tara. “By the time we landed, we were the best of friends, chatting away, asking each other ‘Rapid-Fire’ questions to know things, so much so that our director Punit (Malhotra) had to put cotton wool in his ears!”

And Ananya adds a footnote, “People were trying to prove the theory that two actresses can never get along. We were in the same acting classes and we were not allowed to talk to each other, so we would just pass each other on the way. I was also told that she was saying something catty about me, and she was told the same about me. And I thought, ‘How can that be possible? We haven’t even met!’”

Finally, the two actresses, who are unwilling to divulge more about the film and their roles, admit that they ganged up against poor Tiger and Punit. “Remember we were both newcomers in the movies?” smiles Ananya, who has this habit of beginning every answer with “So…”.

Tara, among the three, was the only one who actually went to college. Quips Ananya, “Tara’s smart, do GK questions with her!” Tara, however, wishes that her real college had had the kind of fun and games seen here, with so much of sports and dance. Ananya and Tiger, on the other hand, say that they lived their dream of going to college through this film! The sports enthusiast hero also declares that colleges (and schools) must have a holistic approach and include sports and dance so that fitness levels increase!

Tara is excited about her film being a sequel to Student Of The Year. “There is great excitement in taking the franchise forward.” Ananya adds, “Some things are common to both films, like the college shown in the movie, and a love triangle between the three leads. Except for that, they are completely different films.” But Tiger says, “Vis-à-vis my other films, doing SOTY2 was a breeze, though I had to learn kabaddi.” All three claim that it is a “bubblegum romance” and “mass entertainer” and Tiger assures us that audiences will leave the theatre with a smile on their faces.

Dreams galore

About her acting ambitions, Ananya says that she wanted to be an actress for the longest time. “My dad and mom thought it was a passing shouq (interest). Then they saw me perform during an annual day function and thought, maybe I could be one! They watched me for the first time in the trailer, and downloaded it and now watch it some 12 times a day! It’s so sweet it makes me cry! And I want to reach the level Alia Bhatt has done in seven years from the first film, and make everyone proud. My father has such a great standing in the
industry. He never changed through his ups and downs. I want to ensure that I make him proud.”

Tiger, too, admits that his father’s journey is enough to not let success go to his head. “I know all of it — from where dad came, the heights he reached, the down phase, and his return to centre stage.”There is too much insecurity within me, there is so much to do. I want to touch everyone in this world, not just in my country. I have created an identity of my own in a field in which a new hero comes in every few weeks, and I also want to spread the message of fitness, which is why my sister Krishna and I have started a gym now.”

Tara, the outsider, also wants to reach high, like the three newcomers of Student Of The Year. “I think that this is such an exciting time for women in films. There is so much to explore, and women are trying out different genres. I admire Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra, and I connect very much with Priyanka — she can sing, dance, is a traditional Indian beauty with skill sets and can still wow people in the West.”

Tiger is busy now with Baaghi 3 and Yash Raj Films’ action drama with Hrithik Roshan and him, which he describes as Mission Impossible-meets-James Bond. Hrithik has been his all-time icon and he finds it surreal that he is working with him.” I go blank sometimes in my scenes together!” he confesses. The two girls are also doing great, considering that their first feature is yet to release. Ananya is doing the remake of Pati Patni Aur Woh. “It’s my first comedy, which is my favourite genre — Plug! Do watch it!” she laughs.

And Tara has also wrapped up her second film, Marjaavaan, with Sidharth Malhotra, one of the original “students”, and is set to shoot in July for her third film, Ahan Shetty’s debut. “If things go well, and (producer) Sajid-sir agrees, I might even sing in the film!”

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