Spotlight : Karan Johar

Karan Johar may hail from a reputable film family but the director-producer has had to prove himself worthy of a place in Hindi cinema right from the get-go. It wasn't as easy as being handed Dharma Productions on a silver platter, a production house put together by his father Yash Johar many years ago, the young boy had to work hard to finally earn a film which eventually became his directorial debut and a major hit, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. However, before that, he appeared in a guest appearance as his lucky mascot Shah Rukh Khan's best friend in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. Ask KJo, as he is fondly called, who his influences are, and he quickly juts out some the most glamorous moviemakers including Raj Kapoor, Yash Chopra and Sooraj Barjatya. The effect of these veteran film makers is evident almost all Johar films, which talk about love and friendship, family values and betrayal, and of course with the requisite song and dance.

As a child, Karan knew he wanted to be famous. He grew up amidst the glitterati and their children, which included the Bachchans, Roshans, Kapoors, Khannas and Chopras. Strangely, Karan grew up in a snooty area of Mumbai where Hindi films were frowned upon and thus, secretly watched films and found himself feeling rather embarrassed to be Yash Johar's son. In fact, on many occasions, he denied that his father was a film producer but rather a mere businessman. However, he did on the sly watch films and would burst into tears when he was not allowed to attend previews. During his college days, he became friendly with the reclusive Aditya Chopra who had come up with idea of a cult story. KJo ditched his plans of going to Paris to pursue a degree in Mass Communication and joined forces with Chopra. The two developed that story together and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge was born. It was during the DDLJ schedule that Shah Rukh Khan and KJo became chums. It was upon Khan's persuasion that Johar decided to script and direct his first film Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.

KKHH released to great expectations, which it met, and Karan Johar the director was born. It was in this first film that Karan Johar established not only a niche in the industry, his film direction style started a new trend in moviemaking. The director added a modern flair to his debut film with the use of branded clothing and slang language, which appealed to the younger masses, but as the film progressed it changed to become one about values and love, targeted at an older mature audience. It was with Kuch Kuch Hota Hai that Karan Johar had arrived and how. The film went on to become a blockbuster hit, which is loved even today. It won numerous awards including Best Movie and Best Director for the year of 1998. KKHH also became the film which strengthened the director's friendship with Shah Rukh Khan. From then on, Johar vowed to never direct a film without SRK in the lead. And sticking to his word, he never has. A few years later he was back with Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Ghum, another winner then 4 years later he followed with Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna and his next release, My Name is Khan; all of course starring SRK as the hero.

Besides, actor and director another cap that Karan wears is that of producer with his banner Dharma Productions. Each of Karan's films has been produced by the company and in the last few years the banner has become known for it's fresh take on Hindi films.  With interesting story lines and with debutant directors at the helm, Dharma Productions is a honing new breed of filmmakers. The film that firmly established this was 2008's Dostana, starring Priyanka Chopra, Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham. Written and directed by Tarun Mansukhani, the film was the story of two guys pretending to be gay all for a room in an apartment, but both in love with the same girl...their roommate. Not your typical Hindi kahani! The film was a huge success and paved the way for more films with new stories to be made. Taran Adarsh wrote in his review, "On the whole, Dostana is a winner all the way. In terms of content, it might just prove to be a trendsetter."

Dharma was also the company behind last year's smash hit Wake Up Sid, which starred the fabulous jodi of Ranbir Kapoor and Konkona Sen Sharma. Again Karan went with a first time filmmaker Ayan Mukerji, who also penned the script. The tale was of a young man's coming of age, but it also showed a modern take on a traditional love story. The film received rave reviews from critics, but even more importantly from fans, many of who list Wake Up Sid as their favorite movie of 2009.

Also in 2009 was Kurbaan, a dramatic thriller directed by Rensil D’Silva. The director told Bollyspice "Kurbaan deals with issues not seen before in Hindi Cinema." Adding that it is "a cross genre ... it is a love story, it's a thriller and it has political comment on global terrorism and the identity of Muslims in the modern world." Though the film was not a huge success, it was given good reviews by critics.

Of course the next big release for Dharma is Karan Johar's My Name is Khan, starring Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol. Like the directors he has been mentoring, Karan has also gone in a new direction for this film. Karan has called the film his bravest yet and explaining to BollySpice said, "It's brave because I have challenged myself and I don't know if doing that was a safe decision. It is great because it enters a new terrain and speaks about new issue. It's nothing I've done before and yet somewhere lies me in the film, so it's brave for me. I can't say others will find it brave but for me, I felt brave." The film has already had some early previews and has gotten rave reviews with ratings as high as 4 to 4.5 stars.

A bevy of stars attended a special screening and many tweeted their reactions and praise of the film:

Tarun Mansukhani: "So here it is. Unbiased. It rocks. Its thought provoking & immensely engaging. The simplicity w/ which Khan sees the world is just amazing.."

Rahul Khanna: "MNIK gets my highest compliment - it made the 2 hour drive to the screening well worthwhile."

Preity Zinta: "Just saw My Name Is Khan and it is MINDBLOWING ! Everyone who has a heart should watch it .. Again and Again and Again ! Am so proud of SRK!Karan Johar has shown his superiority as a director ! I am so proud of him ! My name is Zinta and I have loved the film. Kajol is also amazing in the film! Its SRK's role that is really tough though and he deserves a standing ovation :-)"

Farhan Akhtar: "MNIK is an amazing film. Full power to Karan, Shahrukh, Kajol, Ravi K Chandran (DOP), Deepa Bhatia (editor) and the rest! Outstanding! Shahrukh's best performance till date. Karan's best film. What else can you ask for? Kajol is very good as always, reached in and plucked my heart out in some moments.... but SRK blows you away. MUST WATCH!"

In production now is the Imran Khan, Sonam Kapoor starrer, I hate luv storys, written and directed by Punit Malhotra. The film is scheduled to release in May of this year. Not much is know about the film, except that despite the title, it is actually a love story.

The Hindi remake of Hollywood's Stepmom is also on the docket of films in production for the banner. With the powerhouse cast of Arjun Rampal, Kareena Kapoor and Kajol, the film directed by Siddharth Malhotra looks to be another great Dharma film.

In another interesting direction, the company is also expanding into animation with Koochie Koochie Hota Hai, which is director Tarun Mansukhani's animated version of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. About the film, Karan wrote on his blog, "The film has the soul and narrative of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, it just belongs to a different world; an animal world devoid of any human inhabitants. The core love story is between three dogs, and the supporting cast has roosters, bears, pigs, cats, and many others from the barn. Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, and Rani essay the voices for 'Rocky', 'Angie', and 'Tina' respectively, (minor tweaks on the original names)."

One must mention, of course, his forays on to small screen with Koffee with Karan and his new show Lift Kar De. Koffee with Karan ran for 2 seasons, the first in 2004 and the second in 2007. The who's who of Bollywood sat on Karan's couch, usually in interesting pairings, and not only informally chatted with the host but also competed for the coveted hamper in the rapid fire round. The show was a huge success and is still loved today! More recently, Karan has taken on yet another show in the form of Lift Kara De. However, there was no Koffee in this show. Lift Kara De is dedicated to finding ace fans for the guests which are made up of celebrities. Through Karan, fans from all over the country are able to meet their favorite stars on a famous platform.

Karan Johar certainly has come along way from that first appearance in DDLJ and has proven to be one of the biggest players in the Hindi film industry. He has earned that place with hard work, excellent films and has the admiration of film fraternity and maybe more importantly, the fans of Hindi cinema. With each new project he manages to break new ground and who knows what he will show us next! We know we will be waiting and watching and so will you!

No comments:

Stars Profile Copyright © 2010 Prozine Theme is Designed by Lasantha Home | RSS Feed | Comment RSS