Karan Johar says after Ghost Stories, ‘I will never direct a horror film again’
With a lineage of films that mostly include romantic dramas and commercial potboilers, one won’t really expect Karan Johar to step on to uncharted grounds. Yet, he has done it time and again with films such as Dostana, My Name is Khan, Kalank or even his latest anthology, Ghost Stories. In a candid chat, Karan talks about why there’s a constant need to step out of the comfort zone and how the web empowers writers that in turn empowers content in cinema, too.
You’ve directed as well as produced content on the web. What’s it about this space that you find to be most intriguing?
For storytellers and content creators, it’s a Renaissance period. The digital space is just exploding, and tremendous content is coming out on various platforms. The web is empowering writers, and I’m glad because we needed to be empowered. Web content is driven by writers, and the moment they’re empowered, they’re more motivated, and therefore, are writing even better feature films. So, this explosion digitally has also empowered content in cinema.
Your production, Drive (2019), didn’t fare well. Do you regret releasing it on an OTT platform?
The initial plan was to release it theatrically, but then I realised the way the content has gone, it would be better for it to be on a digital format. And it was very brave of the OTT platform also to take the leap along with me. There are thousands of stories being told, so, sometimes you need to shake up and break the clutter with certain decisions. That’s what we did with a film like Drive. I’m not speaking about the film because that’s for people to judge.
Your latest outing, Ghost Stories, is a genre that audience wouldn’t relate to the brand Karan Johar. While directing it, how much did you personally connect with it?
Horror and I don’t connect at all, and very honestly, they’ll not happen again. This is my first and only horror story that I’ve made for Netflix. It’s not a genre that I enjoy watching, so why should I enjoy making it?
So, was it more of a challenge?
Yes, because I felt like this gives me the ability to be out of my comfort zone and tell a story being uncomfortable. I think every filmmaker should be, at one point, uncomfortable to tell a story because that challenges their core directorial spirit. So, making this horror anthology has been the most challenging schedule in my 21-year-long journey.
Why don’t we see many anthology films releasing in a theatre?
It’s a format much attuned for the digital zone because we, in cinema, are very used to the syntax of storytelling — an escalated drama, a mid-point where you come out, chat about it and go back. Here, we have four narratives, four stories that start and stop one after the other that you’re more likely to watch in your private space. What’s great about anthology is that it gets you to chat about each film and also you compare them with each other.