Karan Johar charms the audience, champions freedom of expression and sexuality at India Conference at Harvard

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Karan Johar (Photo: INE News)

By INE News Staff

CAMBRIDGE, MA—Karan Johar, a reputed Bollywood film producer and director and the host of Koffee With Karan, was funny, fearless, straight, honest and entertaining when he held a live Q-A session with Harvard University teacher Richard Delacy and an audience of about 600 people at the India Conference 2016 at Harvard University on Saturday.

Karan-duo
Karan Johar and Richard Delacy (Photo: INE News)

Johar was originally scheduled to speak about “The # (Hashtag) Democracy,” but the format of his talk was changed in the last minute to an interactive “Conversation With Karan,” and the audience loved it. Johar adored it too.

“You can ask anything,” Johasr said. “Almost anything.”

When asked how does he deal with celebrities and media, Johar quipped: “I love it. This is what I wanted to do. I wanted to be famous. It is a show business and we should be proud of it.”

In his Koffee with Karan talk show, Johar has interviewed almost every Bollywood superstar and celebrity. He said celebrities love attention and spotlight and he had no problem getting them on his show. Only resistance he had received from was from Aamir Khan.

He said lovers change, friends change and enemies change and they continue to come back on his show.

Johar said he admires Amitabh Bachchan’s passion for the movies. “At 73, I wish I could have 10 percent of his passion.” Who are the actors he would like work with? His quick answer was: Sridevi and Madhuri.

Although Johar made his directorial debut with Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), he said the year 2001 changed everything for him. It was in 2001 when his blockbuster film Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham was released. Despite some initial unfavorable reaction by critics, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham became a super hit Bollywood film.

Johar recalled that Lagaan and Dil Chahta Hai were also being released at the same time and after previwing them, he wondered “who is going to find value in my film.” He acknowledged that Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham was not as good as Lagan.

When asked should Dostana (2008), which was produced by Johar, have been made? Johan said: “I don’t apologize to make the movie. I believe in freedom of expression and freedom of sexuality.”

He said Dostana brought the topic of homosexuality and was stereotyped. It is a story of two men, who are pretending to be gay, falling in love with the same woman.

Taking about Indian cinema, Johar said that a lot of content in the movies is Indian now and that it is going back to its roots.

“We have to empower the writer,” Johar said. “We have technology and talents but no writers.” He said actors are always idealized and get credit, but the order of empowerment and order should be: writers first, followed by director and then the actor.

“Our food chain is all wrong,” Johan said. “When our focus becomes the movie star, our attempts fails.”

Johar also emphasized that Bollywood is self-sufficient and it is the only film industry in the world that has not needed any support from Hollywood. He also said that he was proud of the fact that Indian actors like Priyanka Chopra are making a name in the United States.

When asked why Bollywood movies are dominated by Hindu characters and have less of Muslim leads, Johar said his upcoming film “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” has a Muslim female lead.

“I am going to reveal something to you today about my next film ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ the name of the hero is Aayan he is Hindu in the film and she is Alizeh. She is Muslim in the film and there is no conflict in the love story.”

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