Karan Johar opened up about his relationship with Kajol, and why he wouldn’t mind going back in time and removing the bits he wrote about it in his memoir An Unsuitable Boy. Speaking at The Hindu Lit For Life Festival in Chennai, the filmmaker said he and Kajol are on good terms now.
“Whatever happened in the book with certain relationships… things are okay today with Kajol. I don’t know if back then I should’ve written those things that were so deeply personal to me. It’s the Kajol chapter I would’ve done differently. I was going through a volcano of emotions and I don’t regret it, but maybe, if I could go back in time…”
The filmmaker, who was in conversation with film critic Baradwaj Rangan, opened up about a lot of aspects in his life, on failure, on being hounded by the paparazzi, and more. Saying that he is in love with the idea of being famous, the filmmaker emphasised it was important for him to be very honest in his memoir.
“I have no problems going through this life, I love red carpets, I love being photographed by the paparazzi. They’ve even reached the building. I love that! When I was asked to write my memoir, I only agreed if they would let me be 80 per cent honest. At least 20 per cent must lie as skeletons in your closet, and those skeletons must be protected. And, if it could help the book resonate with people, then so be it. I have written how I still haven’t made that one feature film I will be personally proud of. And, I also talk about my vulnerabilities, not achievements, where I expose my inner self as well,” he said.
Johar also spoke of nepotism, the hot topic in Bollywood last year [remember Kangana Ranaut on his chat show?]. “My being associated with nepotism, it’s become a national joke. But, I really want to say that it’s not easy. Everyone thinks that you’re born in a film family, but no one knows the struggle you may go through. Coming into an unsuccessful production house at that time, I have seen my father in the 80s and 90s face failure with films flopping at the box office,” he said, adding that he has come to peace with himself through his memoir.
“When I put it out there, I felt empowered. The first thing that came out of the book, about my orientation, threw me off a bit. I felt that was not the whole and soul of the book.”
On being a father:
Johar, who became a father to twins last year, spoke of how he is enjoying every bit of it, and has no qualms about uploading photographs of his children. “When I put up photos of my children or when paparazzi take them, people ask me why I don’t protect my children. I think it’s fine, you can call it an occupational hazard or whatever, but I don’t want them to feel different than the others. I’m in a put-it-out-there industry. And, if we suddenly decide to be private, I’d call it a bit of a hypocrisy.”
On facing negativity:
Johar has been the target of online trolls for a long time now, with most sending him explicit messages about his orientation, his films, and photos. “I’m so used to the hate that when it doesn’t happen, I feel bad. I put out a photograph, I get abused. There’s a lot of love out there, but then there are those who abuse with the most ludicrous things. So, in my head, I abuse them back. It’s give-and-take,” he said.
On Ae Dil Hai Mushkil:
Calling it his most honest work, Johar emphasises that the film starring Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, and Fawad Khan was essentially his story. “I was deeply wounded in love. Heartache is much worse than a wisdom tooth extraction. You’re the worst version of yourself when you’re hurt. That entire film resonated with my core. Even now, I feel it’s my most honest piece of work. There have been times where I’ve been emotionally manipulative, where I’ve added songs. I did a compromise with my other movies, but not with Ae Dil…”
Johar also spoke about his love for the South, and its films. He’s in awe of Mani Ratnam, and he spoke of his first tryst with the director and how it shaped him as a filmmaker. “I remember I was introduced to Mani Ratnam in my teens through Aditya Chopra. We went to a theatre in Mumbai called Aurora, and I remember watching Thiruda Thiruda, with no subtitles. We became obsessive Mani Ratnam fans. I remembered the irony of that when Shah Rukh Khan was simultaneously shooting for Dil Se and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. When I met him (Mani Ratnam), I felt like I was meeting God. And then, I was in awe when I heard that he was shooting a song on a moving train. Incidentally, I had the privilege of shooting with one of his associates Santosh Sivan,” he said.
“I don’t want to just learn from southern cinema, I want to be a part of it too,” he added.