I wait for Karan Johar in the Khar office of Dharma Productions, above a Costa Coffee packed to the brim with, not surprisingly, aspiring actors. He is talking to his colleagues, one of whom casually tells me, "Don’t worry, you are on time. But as soon as he is free, we all need a bit of him."
Directing his philosophies
Actress Alia Bhatt, who started her career in Johar’s
Student Of The Year
(2012), says the most important thing Johar taught her is how to behave with people.
“He is respectful of everyone – people who have been working for very long, and people who have just started out. I don’t just want to be a talented actress, I want to be someone who is a pleasure to work with. He has taught me how to be that.” She remembers his recent Blackberry Messenger status: Creativity is not a talent. It’s a way of operating. “That’s how you can describe him! He screams creativity and he screams genuineness.”
He is quite a quotable person, as his Twitter account also reflects. But then it would not be surprising for a director who deals with emotions so well in movies to be highly emotional as well. One tweet reads, “Black and white are aspirations... grey is the reality.”
“I don’t want to be black, and to be white, I would have to sit in the Himalayas. So grey is what we live. We lie to get out of situations, we manipulate – that’s grey. It makes you someone trying to live in the times of today,” Johar says.
He comes across as someone who has done his time. Johar quotes affirmations to himself every day. Like, “My only religion is humanity”. Perhaps this mantra has made him successful. And also made him one of the most liked people in the industry.
Is there anybody who doesn’t adore KJo, or confide in him? He is in the SRK gang, the Salman Khan gang, the Bachchan gang, the Kapoor gang and even Anurag Kashyap, who once criticised his films and brand of direction, insisted he be a part of
. “Anurag says I have a dark side. My alter ego maybe – after all, I am a Gemini.”
Johar says that could be because though he has pride, he doesn’t have a big ego. “I am not on a film set thinking I am a bigger star than SRK. I am not deluded about my relationships. I offer them my time, because that’s what matters. I get shocked when people ask, ‘Should we meet at your office or mine?’ I will meet you on the road ya! Mujhe batao, I will come anywhere… problem kya hai?”
He also wants to clear any misconception people may have that he leads a privileged life. “It’s a tough life – living up to expectations, holding on to your position, managing your work and relationships. I work at it. I get appalled when people don’t show gratitude. I will do anything for Aditya Chopra or Shah Rukh. I judge people by how large their hearts are and their level of gratitude.”
When he isn’t working, Karan spends time with his mom or has dinner with one of his famous friends. And he also watches one episode a day of his favourite international TV shows before he sleeps. “
Fargo, Game of Thrones, How To Get Away With Murder, Homeland, Girls, Downton Abbey, Orange Is The New Black
– I watch everything and anything.”
Right now though, he is excited about
, for which he says the biggest challenge was to reinvent himself. “I didn’t want to be an extension of myself.”
His next appointment is here and he is back to doing what he does best – multitasking without a sweat. His last line pretty much sums him up. “I don’t drink, don’t smoke, and don’t do drugs. I am very clean. I am not addicted to anything except my work.”
"When I had coffee with Karan"
From the author's diary
I loved meeting Karan Johar, particularly because he gave me an insight into what makes a person successful. It’s not only about being creative but also working hard every day. I went thinking, this is Karan Johar, he has it all – his life must be awesome. And it is! But as Karan said, “It’s never been about resting on my success. You have to keep being consistent.”
I also understood why he is so loved by his peers. It’s because he always takes out time to be there for his friends and family. “The most precious thing that you can give someone is your time. They don’t want anything material.”
He is super fun to talk to: easy going, relaxed, candid and never one to mince his words – he charmed me off my feet. And damn, he is funny! As we talked about fashion and I confessed judging people who wear harem pants, he remarked, “What about Indian men who wear skinny pants! Those legs were not made for skinnies, please!”
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From HT Brunch, December 21
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