The un­stop­pable show­man

Karan Jo­har – the name it­self sig­ni­fies su­perla­tives. Ev­ery­thing he does is grand, op­u­lent and larger than life. And that’s why we whisked him off to the lux­u­ri­ous play­ground of the rich and fa­mous; Prin­ci­pal­ity of Monaco, for this ex­clu­sive cover shoot.

MillionaireAsia India - - Contents - Cover Pho­to­graph by RO­HAN SHRESTHA

The mag­nif­i­cently multi-faceted Karan Jo­har ex­pe­ri­ences the lux­u­ries of Monaco

There is some­thing about Karan Jo­har. His un­apolo­getic can­dour in­stantly makes you take a lik­ing for him, that is, if you can han­dle some­one who has opin­ions and is un­afraid to voice them. His com­pany; Dharma Pro­duc­tions has pro­duced more than 35 films in­clud­ing a se­ries of block­busters and is the most sought af­ter pro­duc­tion house in the coun­try. Recog­nised for dish­ing out movies with soul-stir­ring sto­ry­lines that fea­ture never done be­fore megas­tar cast­ing, which in turn re­sults in record box of­fice col­lec­tions, Dharma Pro­duc­tions is known to cre­ate new bench­marks in the In­dian film in­dus­try. From mak­ing his di­rec­to­rial de­but at age 25 to be­ing some­one who has men­tored nu­mer­ous suc­cess­ful di­rec­tors, Karan Jo­har

tra­versed a long road that has been dot­ted with many sig­nif­i­cant mile­stones. Ad­dress­ing him­self as a team-player, Karan at­tributes his suc­cess to the collective ef­forts of his team. What sets him apart from the oth­ers in the film in­dus­try is an in­her­ent aware­ness of his strengths and weak­nesses jux­ta­posed with a knack be­ing able to adapt to chang­ing cir­cum­stances. His busi­ness ac­u­men, as­tute ob­ser­va­tional skills, abil­ity to keep up with peo­ple of all age groups and an EQ that is at par with his IQ, give him the cut­ting edge to make movies like no one else does.

Please tell us a lit­tle about your jour­ney into films

One way of look­ing at it is that be­ing the son of a film pro­ducer, it was nat­u­ral for me to get into films. But it was not as sim­ple as that. Mumbai is ge­o­graph­i­cally di­vided into south and north. North where the film in­dus­try is based. All the film fam­i­lies lived in the suburbs of Juhu, Ban­dra and And­heri. I, on the other hand, grew up in Mal­abar Hill in South Mumbai, be­cause of which I was very dis­tant from the world of movies and the movie fra­ter­nity. Peo­ple in our neigh­bour­hood didn’t know what was hap­pen­ing in the film in­dus­try and were quite elit­ist, snob­bish and snooty about it. My jour­ney started with this love for lis­ten­ing to old Hindi film songs. I was the only child and we lived in a tiny apart­ment. I grew up lis­ten­ing to songs of Mo­hammed Rafi, Kishore Ku­mar, Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle. When the VHS phase started I wanted to see the vi­su­als that were at­tached to the mu­si­cal mem­o­ries. At the age of 8 or 9 I watched films such as Pyaasa and Kaagaz ke

Phool – when kids my age were watch­ing all kinds of cartoons. I knew I was pas­sion­ate about films, but, as a spec­ta­tor and not nec­es­sar­ily as a film-maker. It was Aditya Chopra, who made me re­alise Hindi cin­ema is my calling and that I should ac­tu­ally do noth­ing else but work with him on his de­but film; Dil­wale Dul­ha­nia Le Jayenge.

Dharma Pro­duc­tions Pvt. Ltd. had been estab­lished by Yash Jo­har; your fa­ther. Did you ever feel the weight of a legacy be­ing car­ried on your shoul­ders?

No, he never carved or paved the way for me to take the helm. It was I who felt the need to en­hance and em­power Dharma Pro­duc­tions. When I lost my fa­ther at age 32, I could have shut shop and just been a di­rec­tor and not taken the bur­den of a pro­duc­tion house as I was never busi­ness in­clined. But on the 4th day af­ter he passed away, I re­mem­ber com­ing back into an empty of­fice and star­ing at his pho­to­graph and re­al­is­ing that if I wouldn’t take on ad­di­tional re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, I would not be jus­ti­fy­ing all those years of hard work that went into the cre­at­ing of Dharma.

You, with your fresh and mod­ern out­look to­wards In­dian com­mer­cial cin­ema, have brought in a breath of fresh air. Was it a con­scious de­ci­sion to do so or is it some­thing that hap­pened or­gan­i­cally?

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai is the re­sult of my love for vin­tage Hindi cin­ema and my new age sen­si­bil­i­ties, which to­day may not seem very fresh or new. Shah Rukh in the movie wears a cool chain which is far from cool but at that time it was con­sid­ered cool. We in­cor­po­rated sports brands I thought were de­signer brands such as Polo Sport and GAP. I brought in a sen­si­bil­ity of a new age look and pack­aged it with vin­tage pre req­ui­sites main­stream cin­ema such as songs, dance, drama and even melo­drama. Aditya Chopra in 1995 and me in 1998 ush­ered in a new way of look­ing at main­stream com­mer­cial cin­ema which had a bal­ance of sen­si­bil­ity, aes­thet­ics and nar­ra­tives of sto­ry­telling.

What were the chal­lenges you faced while di­rect­ing your first movie? How did you over­come them?

The chal­lenges were the fact that I was very young and in­ex­pe­ri­enced. I was only 24 when di­rect­ing it 25 when it re­leased. For­tu­nately I was work­ing with friends; Shah Rukh and Ka­jol. Aditya Chopra, who was my men­tor and my guide was very sup­port­ive all through the jour­ney. Even his fa­ther, Yash Chopra was look­ing over me cre­atively and even oth­er­wise. Also, my in­dul­gent fa­ther gave ev­ery­thing I could have asked for. I would love to tell you a strug­gle story but there re­ally wasn’t one.

How do you think your style of film­mak­ing has evolved since you started?

I think I would say that I have adapted over the years,

am not sure if its evo­lu­tion. We have gone from high melo­drama to drama to now sub­tlety. From lip sync songs to sto­ry­telling songs. There’s also a change in tonal­ity of char­ac­ters to make them more real. It’s very im­por­tant for me as a main­stream en­ter­tainer to con­stantly be rel­e­vant which means I need to lis­ten to the voices of the younger gen­er­a­tion with­out thinking of my­self as su­pe­rior, more ex­pe­ri­enced or more evolved.

How has the busi­ness of en­ter­tain­ment evolved since your first film; KKHH?

To­tally. We have gone from be­ing com­pletely ad hoc to stream­lined, from be­ing all over the place to be­ing dis­ci­plined, be­ing a bunch of in­di­vid­u­als a cor­po­rate iden­tity. Those are the en­hance­ments. But on the flip side, there’s also loss of emo­tion and

loss of in­ti­macy that we had as a unit. Now, it’s all about man­agers, publi­cists, cor­po­rate en­er­gies, for­mal­i­ties and emails. We were much more of a fra­ter­nity. Now, I’m sorry to say we are an in­dus­try. There was a time when peo­ple would watch movies for the joy of do­ing so. Now, it’s about how many stars did

film get and how many crores did the film make. I per­son­ally feel that crores are not for au­di­ence to worry over. The one ques­tion that needs to be asked but no­body does is that ‘What did you think of the film?’ When peo­ple dis­re­gard a film be­cause a cer­tain critic gave it two stars, I do feel dis­ap­pointed. I feel peo­ple must watch films for them­selves as it is pos­si­ble that they may find a con­nect that the critic didn’t.

I think a lot of these is­sues crop up thanks to so­cial me­dia which, oth­er­wise, is a boon. Ev­ery­one has an opin­ion and ev­ery­one ex­er­cises it. I do feel let down when peo­ple, mid-way through the movie, post on so­cial me­dia that the first half isn’t good or hash­tag epic fail.

Has the shift to­wards dig­i­tal me­dia af­fected films in In­dia yet, how so?

Net­flix and Ama­zon churn out some amaz­ing con­tent. I am a big fan of so many of those shows and am sad to say that I am now watch­ing lesser cin­ema suc­cumb­ing to the dig­i­tal wave my­self. Re­al­ity is that things are chang­ing, the land­scape is shift­ing and one needs to adapt. We at Dharma are en­hanc­ing our dig­i­tal en­er­gies and will def­i­nitely go dig­i­tal soon.

What are the big­gest chal­lenges you see to­day in the busi­ness of film mak­ing and how do you plan to over­come them?

I think cin­ema is def­i­nitely go­ing through a cri­sis. Cricket and films used to be the only source of en­ter­tain­ment, which is no longer case. Now, as film mak­ers, we are com­bat­ing tele­vi­sion as well as dig­i­tal me­dia, be­cause of which we are rapidly los­ing foot­falls in cin­e­mas. We are go­ing through a ma­jor cri­sis and if we don’t take heed right now, it will def­i­nitely col­lapse on us. The big­gest chal­lenge is to up our game by mak­ing quality films. We need to em­power writ­ers who can put out great con­tent.

What ac­cord­ing to you are the ma­jor mile­stones of your jour­ney as an en­tre­pre­neur?

I think the one mo­ment where I de­cided to take on Dharma Pro­duc­tions as a reg­u­lar pro­duc­tion house not just me as a di­rec­tor was ma­jor mile­stone. Ev­ery time I launch new di­rec­tor or a tal­ent – I look at it as a new mile­stone. We have launched 15 new­com­ers – 11 of whom have been suc­cess­ful. We have launched 3 ac­tors and are go­ing to launch 4 more. In fact, ev­ery time that I put out a film out there – I look at it as a mile­stone.

Now that you are a fa­ther to Roohi and Yash, how do you main­tain a bal­ance be­tween dif­fer­ent roles and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in life?

I have to ad­mit that it’s not easy, but luck­ily for me, my mother and I co-par­ent Yash and Roohi. I di­vide time be­tween the house and the of­fice. The only gl­itch is that my of­fice is an hour away from my res­i­dence – I lose out two hours of the day just to traf­fic snarls. But bal­ance it on week­ends.

What ad­vice would you give to a new­comer who wants to make it big as a di­rec­tor?

Be aware, not de­luded. Know your level in terms of

I per­son­ally feel that crores are not for the au­di­ence to worry over. The one ques­tion that needs to be asked but no­body does is that ‘What did you think of the film?’

skill set. I know my level and I ex­pect peo­ple to know theirs. If you feel there is space for growth and ex­pan­sion as a cre­ative en­ergy – do what it takes to get to that point.

Who or what in­spires you?

While Yash Chopra in­spired me as a film maker, my fa­ther in­spired me as a hu­man be­ing. Mr. Amitabh Bachchan in­spires me as a cre­ative en­ergy. My mother woman of value and as a woman of sub­stance. Gauri Khan in­spires me home maker.

What are some of life’s lessons that you would like to share?

Try to level your ex­pec­ta­tions. Don’t do some­thing for a re­ac­tion. I know it’s re­ally dif­fi­cult not to, but, if you can con­trol your level of ex­pec­ta­tions you will reach some sort of a Nir­vana.

What has been your most ex­trav­a­gant in­dul­gence?

I indulge on a daily ba­sis. Ev­ery time I shop on­line, it is an in­dul­gence. The prob­lem with traf­fic in Bom­bay its that is co-re­lated with my on­line shop­ping. If I am stuck in a car, I shop.

Tell us about your hob­bies/in­ter­ests?

My best friend – Kaa­jal Anand tells me I am a man of two in­ter­ests – talk­ing and shop­ping. If that sounds friv­o­lous, so be it. I per­son­ally think

peo­ple are my big­gest hobby. I like to ab­sorb their en­ergy and put it into my work. If you don’t catch me with a per­son then you will surely catch me shop­ping.

What is your take on lux­ury?

It’s a ne­ces­sity for me. I love to fly well and stay in the best of ho­tels. In fact, I am ob­sessed by ho­tels! My al­ter ego wants to live in a ho­tel.

What are your thoughts on wealth?

Wealth, I think is not lim­ited to money, it ex­tends to knowl­edge, re­la­tion­ships, emo­tions and love.

What are your thoughts on this beau­ti­ful place where we have been shoot­ing the cover?

Monaco is an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. It has lux­ury, beauty, cul­ture and even tran­quil­lity. Monaco has ev­ery­thing that one might want when on a hol­i­day.

What are your thoughts on suc­cess?

Suc­cess is do­ing your job well and lov­ing what you do. When you are happy with what you do, you are suc­cess­ful.

What makes you suc­cess­ful?

I would say it is the three As - af­fa­bil­ity, aware­ness and ac­ces­si­bil­ity that make me what I am.

What is the one thing that you would like to be re­mem­bered for?

The one film that I still haven’t made. I feel I have made films that have con­trib­uted to pop cul­ture, but not ge­nius cul­ture. And the mo­ment you go to cre­ate – you fail. It has to come from some bro­ken place in your in­ner self and I hope I am enough to make some­thing great even­tu­ally.

What is the one thing that you would like Dharma Pro­duc­tions to be re­mem­bered for?

For con­sis­tency, sto­ry­telling, quality and supremacy over the other pro­duc­tion houses in those de­part­ments.

Where do you see Dharma Pro­duc­tions in five years?

In a hope­fully big­ger place than it is to­day.

Favourite hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion:

I am a con­crete jun­gle man. I love New York, it’s my soul city. It has irony and huge di­chotomy. While it’s a buzzing city there’s an in­trin­sic lone­li­ness. It de­scribes me in a sense.

Is there any­thing that you like to col­lect?

I am an art col­lec­tor. I have 100 pieces of art. When­ever a piece of art it talks to me – I buy it. My first paint­ing was the blue Raza bought it for ` 5,75,000 in 2001. My fa­ther thought I was mad. Un­for­tu­nately, he didn’t live long enough for me to tell him its ` 2 crores now. Favourite cui­sine? Parsi food. I just love dhansak.

Favourite restau­rant?

Fred’s at Barneys New York and Nobu Mat­suhisa’s Nobu restau­rants across the world.

Jacket, Wooy­oungmi; Knit, Canali; Sun­glasses, Kub­o­raum; Back­pack, Gucci Lo­ca­tion: Port Her­cule de Monaco

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.