You can’t say a thing against Adi to my mom-Karan Johar
Karan Johar opens up about his friendship and his secret complexes
Priya Gupta (BOMBAY TIMES; October 19, 2012)
What was your childhood like?
My father was 40 when he had me so he was more a grandparent than a parent. He had been a confirmed bachelor till he met my mother at the races. He saw her and was swept off his feet. He started wooing her and threw a surprise party for her and proposed to her in front of everybody. Because I was the only child, I was completely indulged. My father thought I was the best looking boy. And even though I was at 100 kgs, he dismissed it as puppy fat. He thought that the sun came out of my head. If I got five out of ten marks, he thought I was half there and had only half way more to go. When I won my first inter-school debate and elocution competition, he kept that cup on his mantle and would stare at it every morning telling everyone, ‘my son won this’. My mother was keen that I complete my graduation and never ever wanted me to be in the movies as my father had made five films that lost money. One of the films he made was Agneepath, which was hugely hyped but underwhelming at the box office, and I remember that my dad had to sell my grandmother’s flat to pay off the loan. I could always sense his failure, but I never thought a day would come when I could redeem all his dreams.
My father came from a family of halwais from old Delhi called Nanking Sweets. My grandmother asked him to run away to avoid becoming a halwai. He took a train from Delhi and got off at VT and saw the Times of India building across the road. He walked in there to find himself a job as an intern photographer which in turn led him to his first film set. He went on to become a production controller and at that time was the only one who got front credit. He was a great crisis manager but an unsuccessful producer.
Agneepath broke his heart. My father was a strong man and broke down only when it came to something to do with me. The only time I remember him crying was when he broke the news of his cancer to me. He told me in a hotel room in New York ‘I don’t want to leave you’. That’s the only time I saw him crumble in front of me. He kept the news from us for three weeks as we were shooting Kal Ho Naa Ho and told me only a day before he had to start radiation. I can never forget that moment. He took me aside and told me, ‘Karan I have to tell you something’, and I said to him ‘Do you have cancer?’
The doctor asked him what my film is all about and he said it’s about a man who comes to New York because he is dying. The song Kal Ho Naa Ho will always remind me and my mother of my father. He won all the awards for the film and the very last day before he died, there was a preview of Lakshya where Farhan and Javed sahab had called him and he met the entire industry. He came back and told me ‘main sab se mila’. In a way that was his farewell to an industry that he loved so much. In the months he was unwell the three of us had so much time to express our love to each other and I can never be grateful enough to God for giving us that time together where I could hold his hand and tell him that I will be there for mom and that he will live forever.
Can you talk about your friendship with Aditya Chopra. How did the two of you meet?
Adi and I knew each other through our parents, but we connected in college through common friends. Adi was in Sydenham and I was in HR college and we used to bump into each other at Churchgate station. He used to take a train to Juhu and I used to take a train to Charni Road from where I would take a bus to my house. We bonded eventually when we saw Saudagar together. He was very interested in my perspective. He found me very ‘South Bombay’ while I found him very ‘massy’. Then one day out of the blue he told me you are running from your destiny as a filmmaker. You are dramatic. In fact you are melodramatic. You have a sense of humour and are mad and passionate about movies. The only problem is you do not have an interval in you. He gave me all the knowledge and all the confidence on the set of DDLJ.
Adi is the only one who spotted the potential in me and for that I will be indebted to him for life. I remember breaking the news to both my parents that I wanted to be a director and they both looked very doubtful. They didn’t know what a closet Hindi film buff I was. I used to dance to old Hindi film songs on the sly so my decision to be a part of Hindi cinema was shocking even for my parents.
Not much is known about Aditya Chopra. What is he like?
He is the most intelligent mind in the business and yet he has a soul and a heart that he hides all the time because he wants to show that he is in control. He is very sensitive and quiet and does not like confrontation and is large-hearted. To him his family is his world. The only person who can get into his world other than his family is me. Ours could have been a friendship that could have been destroyed by industry dynamics because we do the same thing, but our love and respect for each other overrides everything else. If he tells me he likes any of my work, I get choked up. He sees my films in a theatre and if he does not like them, he will speak to me on Monday skipping the weekend. Our friendship is actually understated and is best friendship. If my mother loves anyone other than me, it’s Adi. You can’t say a thing against Adi to her. In her eyes he is perfect.
You come across as being tremendously self assured. Were you always like that?
In school I used to be teased for being effeminate and my thin voice used to really bother me. I joined a public speaking class run by the Fernandes couple who told me that my gestures and my hands were not controlled. I hid this from my father telling him that I had joined a computer class. They helped me modulate my voice and use the right gestures I used to hate it when someone called you pansy. The Fernandes couple helped me build my confidence and helped me project myself in a certain way.
Between Shah Rukh and Gauri who is your better friend?
I met Shah Rukh first, but Gauri was always my friend. With him it was never friendship, but reverence. Gauri was my pal, my friend, my lifeline and nothing can ever change that. My mother has three girls other than her two nieces she considers her daughters — Kajal Anand, Gauri and Shweta Bachchan Nanda. With Shah Rukh there is always a line that you do not cross as you would not with your elder brother. If he walks into a room, I stand up and I will not sit till he sits. I will never call him if I don’t like a film. If I like his film I gush. I don’t give him opinions, I hear his. I don’t give him advice, I listen to his. It’s a one-way relationship. I nod in approval and am very respectful of him. He and my father were friends and they had a connection. My connection is with Gauri and it will always be so.
Student Of The Year, produced by Dharma Productions, releases today.
- Hrithik Roshan does a no-show for Sanjay Dutt?
- How come me & Sasheh were not linked?-Arjun Kapoor
- Celebrated lensman Jagdish Mali passes away
- Aamir Khan to join B-Town’s famous games night?
- Aurangzeb’s story irks Delhi based construction company
- Shraddha’s decision to drop Aurangzeb for Aashiqui 2 turns the scales for her
- SRK makes Kamal Haasan copy do the Chammak Challo dance step?
- Shoulder injuries plague Aamir and Shah Rukh
- Shah Rukh Khan charges Rs 8 cr for a 30-minute jig in Dubai?
- Race against time: SRK doesn’t let Deepika go for world tour with Ranbir?