Karan Johar was one of the youngest filmmakers in Bollywood when he debuted with a youthful love story Kuch Kuch Hota Hai in 1995 at the age of 25. Cut to 2013, the director at the age of 41, now wants to launch more and more fresh directors under his banner and claims The Lunchbox director Ritesh Batra is his 14th 'student'.
"I always encourage a first-time filmmaker and I'm very proud that among the people I've mentored, Ritesh is the 14th," Karan Johar tells HindustanTimes.com.
Johar misses that first-time feeling of directing a film and says mentoring new blood compensates for the same. The director who assisted Aditya Chopra in iconic Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge tells the online portal that in the process of teaching, he's also learning from the new people on the block.
"I'm teaching them the mistakes I make and I'm learning everything that I don't know from them. Sometimes new voices have the most spectacular vision. It is uncluttered and organic. That's something that we people who have been here for 15-16 years cannot create. I love that first-time feeling that I can't build in myself anymore where I can learn and emulate other filmmakers. Be it Ayan Mukherjee, Punit Mahotra, Karan Malhotra, Tarun Mansukhani or Shakun Batra, all of them have taught me something or the other."
Talking about The Lunchbox that he's presenting in India, Karan Johar says it makes him want to be in love. "It makes me want to be in a relationship. I'm not in one. It's sad. Feeling desired and being in love is a strong emotion."
The Lunchbox despite having a world cinema appeal can connect with all kind of audiences in India and yet manages to be different, according to Johar. The film tells the story of an unhappy housewife (Nimrat Kaur) and a middle-aged widower (Irrfan Khan) who exchange love letters in the movie.
"It is quintessentially mainstream. All kinds of audience can connect with it and yet within the parameters of love story it is completely unusual. You feel all the love in the world for the protagonists and the unusual aspect of it is they haven't met."
The director said he couldn't have enough of 'The Lunchbox' and was left asking for more. "It's appetising in various ways. I'm punning on it. You feel not only satiated with the food but also at the heart level... this is the kind of love you wish you have in your life."
Johar says he's trying to move away from the popular perception that he supports only a certain kind of cinema. "For good or bad, there is a certain level of generalisation when it comes to my work. I want to break that perception. My decision to direct Bombay Talkies or to present The Lunchbox is an attempt to do that. These are the films that gels well with my sensibility and it's unfortunate, it's not the perception out there."
"The Lunchbox is the kind of cinema that is true to its word and not cluttered or corrupted by some of the mainstream pre-requisites. I love the way I make movies but there are certain stories that need to be told in a certain way and The Lunchbox is that movie and I'm so proud to present this movie," says the director.
Johar is enamoured with the ending of the film that's left open for the audiences to guess. "The film is very well made and the emotions are shown aesthetically. The screenplay of the film is very good and I loved its ending because you are an included member in the screenplay."
Karan Johar is hopeful that India sends the film as an official entry, for he feels it has great prospects of winning an Academy Award.
"I think debutante director Ritesh Batra will fulfill India's dream of bringing an Oscar trophy home," concludes Johar.