Student Of The Year (2012) completed 10 years this year, on October 19. It was the debut flick of Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt and Sidharth Malhotra and in other words, even they completed a decade in the industry. A lot was spoken about their fascinating careers and also their much-loved first film, directed by Karan Johar. Bollywood Hungama spoke exclusively to Niranjan Iyengar, who wrote the dialogues of the film. The writer, who has also written popular films such as Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003), Wake Up Sid (2009), Kurbaan (2009), My Name Is Khan (2010), We Are Family (2010), Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016) and a segment in Ghost Stories (2020) for Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions, besides Student Of The Year, talked about the film, his memories and a lot more…10 Years Of Student Of The Year EXCLUSIVE: “When Karan Johar was casting for Student Of The Year, I suggested Alia Bhatt’s name. The tests happened and the rest is HISTORY!” – Niranjan Iyengar
How did you celebrate the tenth anniversary of Student Of The Year?
The truth is it didn’t even occur to me that Student Of The Year completed 10 years until I started reading the posts! It was a good feeling. But at the same time, I was amazed that time really passes by so fast. It seemed so recent that I worked on the film and we went to Thailand to shoot some scenes.
At what point did you become a part of the project?
I was a part of the film from the very beginning if I am not mistaken. I don’t have that much memory of the chronology of the events. At that time, I was working on literally every film that Karan was directing. By the time we had finished My Name Is Khan, he was telling me that he wants to make a film, which is light-hearted. Since then, discussions were going on that it’ll be set in a college and that it will feature youngsters etc. We were also toying with the various cast options. I was always a part of it though my job started much later. Karan and Rensil worked on the screenplay after which I came on board to write the dialogues. But the discussions were happening continuously with Karan. I had a fair idea of what he was planning to do in the film.
The film’s dialogues had a youthful appeal. How did you achieve it?
It was a challenge. By the time I bagged the film, I was already in my 40s! So Karan and I were clear that we do not want to sound like two older people trying to be young. It had to be genuinely and organically young. However, Karan always has an idea of what he wants to make as a film. So that really helps as then everyone working on the film needs to just follow his brief.
I guess you guys succeeded in your endeavor as the dialogues worked with the target audience…
(Smile) Yes, and I got a lot of help on the sets. I picked up stuff from kids who were working in the film. For instance, Sidharth Malhotra is from Delhi. So, he had the typical Delhi lehza. He knew what the words meant. Nevertheless, it was one of the standout films I had done and I enjoyed the experience.
A few dialogues like that about Push up bra were also there but you and Karan ensured it didn’t cross the line…
I don’t remember half the dialogues that I have written, honestly speaking, as it was so away from my world!
You said you went on the sets of the film…
Yes. For all films of Karan, I have travelled through and through. I’ve never not been there on the sets. Student Of My Year was no exception.
How was it to see Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt and Sidharth Malhotra act in their debut film?
Varun already had a film background. And so did Alia. I feel proud when I see her. Alia was my suggestion to Karan Johar for Student Of The Year. I was already working with her father, Mahesh Bhatt, and her sister, Pooja. I used to bump into Alia very often when I used to go to Bhatt saab’s house. She was a young kid then. I have seen her since she was in school. We and Bhatts worked on Jism (2003) in 2001-02. I always thought that she could become an actress. When Karan was casting for Student Of The Year, I suggested her name. The tests happened and the rest is history!
Similarly, I had seen Varun, on and off, on David Dhawan’s sets, and also otherwise. Sidharth is somebody with whom I worked on My Name Is Khan. So, I knew all three of them in various capacities and knew that they had their strengths. It was lovely that their strengths were used perfectly in Student Of The Year. No wonder they have gone on to make successful careers for themselves.
Alia Bhatt has had a great year with Gangubai Kathiawadi, Darlings and now Brahmastra…
I am not surprised at all. When I saw Alia as a kid, I knew she is special. How special she’s going to be and how she surpassed everybody’s expectations were unexpected. For that, she gets full credit. One of the most wonderful things about Alia was that even in her debut film, there was no instruction that you had to give her the second time. Whether it is about camera movement, hair, make-up, lights, etc. you just have to tell Alia once. And that was really amazing when I was witnessing her. I was doing dialogue writing and my job was already done when I went on the set. My job is to listen to the dialogue delivery and make sure it’s all right. So, I had a lot of free time on the set to observe a lot of stuff. And this is when I noticed about Alia. She’s an exceptionally talented girl.
During the treasure hunt scene, there’s a dialogue by Sahil Anand, ‘Yeh raaz kaun batayega? Mahesh Bhatt?’…
(Laughs) This is something we keep doing. We did that in Kal Ho Naa Ho as well. We used a dialogue of Jism, which I had written. It was our way of having a little fun!
You last worked with Karan Johar in Ghost Stories. It’s been a while since you worked with him…
Yes. But I’ll write something soon. There are a couple of films I am working on. I am also dabbling in television. I also produce. We have a company named Electric Apples Entertainment. We produced Indoo Ki Jawani (2020) and a short film, Devi (2020). Electric Apples Entertainment is putting up a couple of projects, which will be announced next year. It was a little break I had to take from writing as I was busy with all this work and also, COVID happened.
You also wrote the dialogues for Ayan Mukerji’s debut film, Wake Up Sid, which was also produced by Karan Johar…
Ayan had a lot to do with Wake Up Sid’s dialogues. He fought with me tooth and nail on how he wanted the dialogues to be. This is despite the fact that I was experienced and I kept feeling that this is not how it should be. Yet, he stuck to his guns and he was right. When I saw the film, I realized, ‘Oh, this is what he was trying to attempt’. It was wonderful. Ayan is extremely talented.
You also had a chat show, ‘Look Who’s Talking With Niranjan’. Do you have any plans for Season 3?
I did that show as the producers had a lot of faith in me. I didn’t have the faith in myself to face the camera and interview people. I did two seasons and I really had an enjoyable experience. But then, after that, I decided to take a break. Now, I don’t know. I guess it’s upto the makers.
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