With ‘Gulabi Aankhen’ marking her arrival, Shanaya from SOTY provided little indication of who Bhatt would grow to become. The then 19-year-old played the wine-throwing, understated Regina George of Bollywood, who realises there is more at stake in her school life than winning an intra-school competition.
Along with Bhatt, the other debutants of SOTY were Varun Dhawan, Sidharth Malhotra and Kayoze Irani (he’s Boman Irani’s son). Johar also relaunched Sana Saeed, who had last been seen as eight-year-old Anjali in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998) and now delivered a culture shock as the boyfriend-stealing Tanya.
There’s a scene in SOTY that has Bhatt sauntering on a beach in a bikini, which makes Dhawan’s Ro drop his sunglasses to ogle her better and Malhotra’s Abhi gape.
This was more than a simple love song. ‘Ishq Wala Love’ inspired its own sub-culture of memes back in 2012 and yet, like most of SOTY’s songs, this gaana-waala song was terribly catchy.
SOTY was Johar’s first film in which Shah Rukh Khan didn’t play a leading role, though he was a co-producer. Johar had originally written the dean’s role for Khan, but both realised he wasn’t the right fit.
Taking the Dostana route, Johar took homosexuality and gave it a pulpy, delicious, politically misbehaved shape by casting Rishi Kapoor as the bow-tied, gay principal in SOTY.
Long before Bhatt became a meme fixture — from Raazi (2018) to Gully Boy (2019) to Brahmastra Part One: Shiva (2022), practically every film of hers has a wealth of memeworthy moments — she first went viral thanks to her appearance on Koffee With Karan.
Not that we’re defending bad language, but when Malhotra’s uber-cool Abhi said, “Cha pe oo ki matra, tuh pe ee ki matra, yuh pe aa ki maatra”, it became a sensation.
Who didn’t dance to ‘Disco Deewane’ in 2012? Composers Vishal-Shekhar have given us memorable remixes of songs from the Eighties, the most popular one being ‘The Disco Song’, which was originally sung by Pakistani singer Nazia Hassan in 1981.
Bad dads are dime a dozen in Bollywood, but in Ram Kapoor's Ashok Nanda, SOTY seemed to fold a critique of capitalist excess into the standard, villainous father figure.