A black and white palette, the timorous voices of teenagers trying to adjust to the rigours of the coaching centre and a brewing friendship between three confused souls trying to make it into few of the most prestigious colleges in the world, the Indian Institute of Technology, makes up the brilliant new series from the TVF stable, Kota Factory. Compare that to the glitzy vibrant palette presented to us in a tinselled college in a hill station where few kids (?) with chiselled bodies fight it out for the award of Student of the year, which interestingly discounts their academic achievements. Kota Factory and Student of the year are vastly different content pieces, with students as their central protagonists. And therefore, it made sense for us to compare the two. On one hand, we have the might of Dharma Productions and Fox Star Studios promoting the movie , whereas Kota Factory had the genius of TVF and their amazing creative minds to boost. If you ended up watching both content pieces, you will end up asking few questions to yourself. Like-
Do I aim to study in the serene lap of Mussouri among kids who discuss clothes more than the next chapter or do I try and get education (yes! That one word which should be associated with another word, student) in the process, making friends among more believable characters?
Secondly, are the teachers supposed to encourage, guide the wards or randomly shout in the mic during sports day and are conspicuous by their absence for the rest of the semester?
We all know the answer to these questions. Yet, we have some of the biggest production houses throw their might behind a superficial, unreal story which, unfortunately has grossed more than 40 crores since releasing last week. I am all for movies making money, don’t get me wrong here. We exist because content exists. But when you have such grand settings, huge budgets and you end up producing a spineless and mediocre story, then it’s plain frustrating. On the other hand,what Kota Factory offers is an unadulterated account of teenagers across India going through their most trying phase of having to find the right stream and college which will shape their futures. But do they always study? No. We see the most tender love story unfolding between the protagonist Vaibhav and Vartika, we also see the friendship between three completely different characters, Vaibhav, Meena and Uday who are from diverse backgrounds, but having the common goal. The Kota coaching ‘market’ is beautifully woven into the storyline even as the lives of these kids go through a transformation within 5 tightly knit episodes.
And then we have Student of the year. Again a story about three characters whose hearts bounce around without much depth in their connections. The movie is one long gymnastic show of Tiger Shroff’s other-worldly abilities. I am certain, they did not have a read through, but a boot camp before the shoot began. The director was so carried away by the entire look of the movie and the characters that he did not even bother to edit it properly. The entire movie feels like a random collection of shots of Tiger Shroff jumping and the girls trying to get some screen time in between. In the distance you can see a nepotism flag fluttering in all it’s glory!
The acting in both the content pieces are also poles apart. While we see a relatively unknown Mayur More acting his heart out as the confused Vaibhav who grows over the span of the season, we are forced to endure Tiger Shroff trying his best to move his facial muscles for mumbling even basic lines. His triceps have better movement then his facial ones, unfortunately. We also see Ahsaas Channa and Revathi Pillai as the love interests of Uday and Vaibhav who take over the screen with some brilliantly written scenes. However same cannot be said about the characters of Tara Sutaria and Ananya Panday in SOTY. They look ravishing, but blame it on the director for giving them dull character trajectories and poor lines.
While Kota Factory gets the mood right with it’s experimental black and white usage, SOTY remains a colourful mural and nothing more. The entire TVF show can be streamed on Youtube or on the TVF Play apps and we sincerely request you to watch it if you have been through the debacle known as Student of the year, and even if you have not watched that too.