Post the airport incident, Ritesh and Genelia engaged in a lot of conversation on the sets and friendship blossomed between the two.
In 2012, Malhotra made his acting debut with Johar's Student of the Year alongside Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt.
He was cast as Abhimanyu Singh, a scholarship student of limited financial means, who competes with his wealthy best friend Rohan (played by Dhawan) to win an annual school championship.
Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express reviewed: "Sidharth Malhotra is watchable even if he has a hard time doing menace — he just seems so nice and wholesome all the time, even when he is crunching bones." Featuring an ensemble cast including Rishi Kapoor, Ratna Pathak Shah, Rajat Kapoor, Fawad Khan, and Alia Bhatt, the film tells the story of two brothers of contrasting personalities (Malhotra and Khan) who return home to their dysfunctional family after their grandfather suffers from a cardiac arrest.
A reviewer for India Today thought that Malhotra was overshadowed by Khan in the film, though Namrata Joshi of The Hindu wrote that "he holds his own with his solid presence and vulnerable glances".
The latter two rank among Malhotra's highest-grossing films.