Starring debutantes Siddharth Malhotra, Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan, the film's 40-year-old director told Digital Spy why he chose to work with a cast of newcomers at this stage in his career.
"It's called a mid-life crisis," explained Johar. "I felt I needed to challenge myself. I have worked with only movie stars up to this point and the company has never ever worked with new actors. I felt I needed to move from director to teacher and that journey could only happen if I was working with new talent.
"Working with the best actors and setting up a project with movie stars was almost easy. Them doing exactly what they are capable of, which is brilliance, and me just being there and conducting this whole opera would have been wonderful, but not something I hadn't already done before.
"Working with first time actors, nurturing them, making sure they present themselves as movie actors, was a far more challenging experience. I felt the need to challenge myself."
A judge on India's Got Talent and dance show Jhalak Dhikla Jha, Johar went on to explain the key to spotting new talent and why he chose his Student of the Year cast.
"There is no pre-requisite for talent," he said. "It's not ever just about looks. There are lots of beautiful people in the world. Someone who is not necessarily conventionally beautiful can work wonders on screen, whereas someone who in person is breathtakingly beautiful may not have that quality to be photogenic.
"It's really just something that you see in someone. You know they have that 'X Factor', that makes them stand out from the crowd and I recognised that with all three of my cast when I worked with them on My Name is Khan. I spotted there was something very special about them and when they came together on screen it really worked.
"After a series of readings and tests I knew I was bang on right with my first instinct. More than just being good looking they bring a certain kind of vulnerability mixed with talent and that combination never fails.
"[Alia] is a full Hindi film actress at heart. She has Kareena Kapoor's soul in there somewhere, somewhere suddenly she becomes like her sister Pooja Bhatt at times, and she has that impish Preity Zinta quality. She was born to have her hair flying and wear a lengha and dance at a wedding and she does it with such aplomb."
Describing the experience of working on her first film with the acclaimed director, Bhatt said she was apprehensive at first.
"At first I was nervous because it's a new journey for all of us but now both of them are such special boys to me and I never thought I'd have the kind of fondness for anybody that I have for them," he said. "It's a first film. There's lot of expectation on us. Let's see on October 19. It's about how the public reacts to us."
For Varun Dhawan, being launched by Johar in his first film was a dream come true.
"It's actually something I couldn't have ever dreamed of in my life, this canvas, this filmmaker. To have such a filmmaker in your first film is unbelievable and I just hope that I can live up to all that's expected of me in this first film," Dhawan said.
While Malhotra has no film lineage, both Dhawan and Bhatt hail from established film families. Son of director David Dhawan, Varun told Digital Spy why he didn't want to turn to his family to launch him in a film.
"It would be too easy. My Dad is a self made man from a village in Punjab and he got into movies himself without anyone's help and I wanted to do the same," he explained. "I was certain that I wanted to make my own way myself. The only piece of advice my Dad gave me was 'Listen to what your director tells you'."
For 19-year-old Alia, who reportedly lost weight for the film, sister Pooja's advice was: "Don't become anorexic!"
Johar explained that in preparing his cast for stardom he encouraged the young actors to focus on their work.
"I told them don't be focused on being stars. I tell them to focus on your craft and this will give you a career. It's not enough to be a great face. You need to need to know the job of acting."
Johar told Digital Spy that there were no obvious influences on the film, which tells the story of love and friendship on a college campus.
"I haven't even seen High School Musical and I don't think I have even seen a full episode of Glee," he admitted. "I don't even know how to answer the question when people ask me what the film is about. It happens to be set on a college campus and that's where the similarity ends if indeed there is any. There is no outside influence from which the story is drawn.
"I love music. I love song and dance. I love glamour and I don't apologise for it. People ask me, 'When will you make a film about real issues?' and I have done that with My Name is Khan and I've enjoyed doing everything, but for me cinema is escapism and I feel that when audiences come to see my films they need to venture into that world.
"I don't want to show something that doesn't have that gloss and glamour and I don't want to lie about it. I don't want to be serious and intense at all. I want to be fun and fabulous."
Johar said he was nervous and excited ahead of the film's release, which is his fifth directorial venture.
"I am as nervous as I was about any film. We've made it to the scale we would have with movie stars, but we've used new talent. Nerves are high, but we're also excited," he added.
"It's like graduation day for them. You've been through so much time and you can't wait for it to reach theatres."
Student of the Year opens nationwide today (October 19).