It is imperative to give screenwriters their due if Hindi cinema is to move to the next level, Bollywood powerhouse Karan Johar said at the 41st Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
In a lively onstage conversation at the Glenn Gould Studio, a part of the festival’s official programme, he said, “The industry is trying out new genres and approaches all right, but we do not empower writers enough. The writer is the soul of a film. The director isn’t everything, they should contribute to that soul.”
With that goal in mind, his Dharma Productions, he said, has set up a new writing division to encourage the creation of original content for films. “The movie star is no longer King, content is. The writer is the backbone of a film,” Johar, 44, asserted.
Speaking about his life and times as a film producer, director and entertainer, Johar was in scintillating form and brought the house down in Toronto on a wet and gloomy Saturday evening.
The nearly 90-minute In Conversation was laced with self-deprecating wit and punchy one-liners that had the expatriate audience asking for more. It was a rousing performance calibrated like one of his glitzy, star-studded films for maximum mass impact.
While the filmmaker lost no opportunity to underscore the increasing global relevance of Bollywood as a marker of India’s global soft power identity, he also acknowledged the chinks in the armour of one of the world’s most dynamic film industries.
Watch: Trailer of Kapoor And Sons
“The success of a film like Kapoor And Sons is proof that the audience is evolving faster than the filmmakers. Many of us in the industry, including me, are caught in a time warp.”
Kapoor & Sons, bankrolled by Johar’s Dharma Productions, had a gay protagonist. “Six actors rejected the role because they were scared to play a homosexual character. Fawad Khan, who took the part and owned it, is not only a great actor but also a brave one,” he said.
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