Everyone’s favourite film-maker, Karan Johar, celebrates his birthday today but it’s no ordinary birthday. Today Johar is officially naughty at 40. However, does he or will he now carry the ‘naughty’ image well or do we have the same film magic to look forward to in the future? Who knows!
The BizAsia team talks about why Johar is so essential to Indian cinema and what makes him so special, not just today but everyday. Join us as we talk through his films, his talents, his relationships��and his TV shows…
From a cameo in ��Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge�۪ (1995) to one of the most sought after directors in Bollywood, Karan Johar has become a household name whose career has risen from strength to strength. I�۪d��like to��reflect on Johar�۪s fabulous directorial projects, each embarking on the different trends and achievements that��he made, as well as a little bit��about his on-screen role.
Johar�۪s directorial debut, ��Kuch Kuch Hota Hai�۪ (1998), marked the beginning of magnificent cinema to come. I remember watching��the film��and realising that for the first time, it wasn�۪t just about Shah Rukh Khan (who I was in totally in love with at the time), or about the singing and dancing… ‘��_kyun ki aap ko maloom hain, ke mujhe singing or dancing ka itna shokh hain�۪. For the first time, my very tom-boyish 10-year-old self could actually relate to one of the characters; Anjali Sharma, so fabulously played by Kajol. It was then that��I started to understand the storytelling side of films and not just ��wow when I grow up I want to be as pretty as her�۪.
Not too many years later, ��Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham�۪ (2001) released, which was a major turning point for Johar. He had managed to do what other film-makers had only dreamt of doing. He brought��six of Bollywood’s biggest stars together; Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Hrithik Roshan, Kareena Kapoor (and Rani Mukherji). Creating such iconic and thought-provoking roles for each of them, Johar proved himself as a serious director who had the right creative tools to create amazing cinema.
Then came one of the most controversial films Bollywood has experienced of late. ��Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna�۪ (2006), confronted an issue that seemed alien to Bollywood cinema and��really��touched upon��with the reality of life.�� To this day the film has had mixed reviews by all, but what everyone can agree on is that��this film proved Johar to be one of the most influential directors, exceeding beyond anyone�۪s imagination. Johar managed to portray the subject of adultery so well. This film, in particular, ignited Johar�۪s unpredictable nature of filmmaking.
��My Name is Khan�۪ (2010), which followed, was��not only challenging for the male lead��Shah Rukh Khan, but also��Johar as a storyteller. The film is about��Khan who plays a Muslim suffering from Autism. His character��marries Mandira (Kajol) who is Hindu, and the story is brought forward by��the events that take place post 9/11. Johar wondrously portrays each character, each event and each scene with great intensity. The viewer becomes engrossed with the film not knowing what to expect next, and travelling with Rizwan (Khan�۪s character), hoping that he will��win his life’s battle. Johar proved himself even further with this film, demonstrating his passion, his motivation and his love for filmmaking.
Johar is also very famous for his chat show ��Koffee with Karan�۪. He��brings together Bollywood’s most top individuals and talks to them about their lives and all the gossip that has been stirred by the media. His rapid-fire game earns��one lucky��guest (per episode)��a coffee hamper filled with prizes, and is seen as one of the most��prestigious prizes anyone could ever win. Proving that his on-screen skills are as entertaining as his off-screen skills; Johar has��audiences glued to their TV screen (and their couches for tha matter) to get to know real B-town characters.
Host, Director, Producer, Story teller; whichever you want to call him, there is nobody who��can do it��like Karan Johar.
Looking back, it seems like I’ve grown up and evolved on a staple diet of Karan Johar�۪s mush, romance and escapism. Think about it. How much has Johar contributed to Indian cinema? As a producer? As a director? As a TV anchor? As an actor even! (albeit briefly)
His cinema has matured over the years. From the far-fetched, yet unmissable bubble gum romance that was ��Kuch Kuch Hota Hai�۪ (1998), the over the top melodrama that was ��Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham�۪ (2001), to the more mature, cross cultural, and darker ��My Name Is Khan�۪ (2010), Johar has experimented with different genres with varying degrees of success. I personally feel his forte lies in subtle, witty comedy and he definitely needs to make a full blown, out and out comedy but hey it’s never too late is it?
As a producer, he’s given budding young directors a chance to shine, and it’s his faith in new talent that has given us some really interesting films. Right from the coming of age ‘Wake Up Sid’ (2009) (possibly the best film to come out of the Dharma stable in my opinion), the ��I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry�۪ (2007) rip-off ��Dostana�۪ (2008), the love with an agenda terrorist drama ��Kurbaan�۪ (2009), a darker twist on his father’s own 90s box office dud ‘Agneepath’ (2012) the refreshing romance ‘Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu’ (2012), the ��Anand�۪ mish mash based in New York ��Kal Ho Naa Ho�۪ (2003), the list is endless.
An interesting observation in all his productions is that even though the films themselves are all helmed by new directors, his stamp on each of the them is unquestionable. All of them have an ultra fashionable (almost over the top) ensemble cast, clearly defined characters, great music, a super strong and well presented female lead and a flowing, even if often clich̩d story to tell. His films almost always have a theme which focuses heavily on romance or family (he�۪s never denied being inspired by films made by Yash Chopra and Sooraj Barjatya in their hey days), but as we’ve seen, he’s started to diversify and move along with the times, which can only be a good thing.
His TV show ��Koffee With Karan�۪ has evoked many a controversy – the most notable being Rishi Kapoor�۪s outburst when Sonam Kapoor and Deepika padukone tore his beloved son Ranbir�۪s reputation to shreds on a public platform.
Whether you love or love to hate his kind of cinema, the one thing we can�۪t deny is his knowledge of his subject matter and his contribution to cinema with varying degrees of success from the late 90s right up to now.
And on his 40th birthday I’d like to request him to continue in the same vein, exploring different genres, but at the same time sticking to his imitable style and giving us our annual dose of escapism.
Thank you Karan Johar, for giving us some of the most unforgettable celluloid moments over the past couple of decades. Have a great birthday!
Karan Johar is like chocolate, sweet, and sinful and makes you feel so good at the end of the day. When his directorial debut, ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ (1998) hit our screens where Shah Rukh Khan uttered the famous line, “Love is friendship”, we were all hooked to the magic that was Karan Johar. He knows how to pick his moments and make the audience feel as though they are a part of this epic love story. Although the formula is not new with the traditional boy meets girl storyline, it is how the characters are portrayed to us that were new. His soft focus lens makes us fall in love with his characters, be it college loafer Rahul Khanna from ��Kuch Kuch Hota Hai�۪ or the gali ki kudi Anjali from ��Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham�۪ (2001), we are left wanting more.
His directing talent didn�۪t stop there. In fact, just when people started to think he was becoming predictable, ��My Name is Khan�۪ (2010) came along and put the audience at the edge of their seats. Once again starring Khan, the film was directed so perfectly that evenHollywoodgot wind of it. He proved to the industry that he wasn�۪t all about the love stories and tackled the issue of Asperger�۪s Syndrome and terrorism with finesse.
However, Johar’s directorial success lies in his capacity for love and his reputation for having good friends in the Bollywood industry. This is true so much so that the Baadshah of Bollywood (Khan), counts the director as one of his close family friends. His stronghold in the industry has very much relied on the personal relationships he has developed.
When it comes to producing movies, Johar never gets it wrong with the likes of ��Dostana�۪ (2008), ��Wake Up Sid�۪ (2009) and more recently ��Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu�۪ (2012). He may be the ultimate director when it comes to traditional love stories but he is wise enough to hand over the reins to young directors too. All the films Johar has produced have always tackled serious issues affecting the young people of today and despite the controversies he may cause, he sticks to his guns.
Having A-list friends has also helped with the huge success of Johar�۪s chatshow ‘Koffee with Karan’. Johar�۪s gossipy style has meant that big name Bollywood stars have been lulled into security to reveal their deepest and darkest secrets. For example, the show saw Deepika Padukone take jibes at her ex Ranbir Kapoor and suggested, along with fellow actress Sonam Kapoor, that the ��Saawariya�۪ (2007) actor could not remain faithful. On-off lovebirds Shahid Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra hit the couch and could not stop flirting throughout the interview.
Karan Johar really does have it all and is one of my favourite people in the industry. Not only does know how to make good films, he knows how to win hearts and Johar, you will always have a fan in me.
It’s difficult to pinpoint just one thing that stands out for me when thinking about birthday boy, Karan Johar. From much-loved films that I can watch over and over to his TV speciality in the form of ‘Koffee with Karan’, nobody can quite perfect the way Bollywood is portrayed in quite the same way that Johar has and can.
In thinking back to the films he’s directed and produced, I can put my hand on my heart and say that he has developed and maintained the kind of standing in cinema which has evolved the way films were made, characters were brought to light and celebrities were branded. Today, Dharma Productions has a certain feel about it that is only apparent and significant because of Johar and his father should and would be very proud.
Without touching on too much about his style of film-making which seems to be reborn with every film, I would like to give a huge congratulations and say a big thank you for the very innovative and candid way Bollywood stars have been able to speak out in ‘Koffee with Karan’. Often compared with Simi Grewal’s show, ‘Koffee with Karan, has always relied on and been about��Johar’s personal relationships with his interviewees.
Although controversial at times, Johar has brought together on one platform the most unlikeliest of people. To name just a few special and memorable episodes, I can highlight the episode where he brought the Kapoor parivaar to the forefront, in a chat that probably will never be repeated or seen again. Another example would be when Amitabh Bachchan graced the couch with his daughter, Shweta. One can even think back to the episode that brought together the once-in-love Shahid Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor. I have no reason to believe these actors would appear in such a way for anyone else but Johar… and for that, we should all be grateful.
In ending, I would like to say that I wish his kind of film-making continues to inspire Bollywood. I also hope that he continues to hail new talent in the way he has done in the last few years. Finally, I hope he continues to sprinkle the true magic of film-making on Indian cinema for years to come. Bollywood wouldn’t be Bollywood without this 40-year-old!
At BizAsia, we are��sure every Bollywood buff would have their own take on why they love Karan Johar but, just for today,��we hope he gets a whole lot of love from those who owe their careers, their lives and their dreams to him. Happy 40th birthday KJo!