Karan Johar: as cool as it gets

Updated on May 15, 2007 05:40 PM IST
Karan Johar, currently the cover boy of a fashion magazine, discusses his style mantra with Suman Gupta.
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None | BySuman Gupta, Mumbai

Once there were the movie moghuls who cut sharp figures in their shark skin suits.That was in the 1950s..the era of Mehboob Khan couture. With time and trends, though, the movie director has come to be associated with.. jeans-shirts, kurtas, Ts, ranging from the rather nondescript Sanjay Leela Bhansali to the eye-poppingly faux branded Ram Gopal Varma.

In between self-proclaimed showmen have flaunted floppy bushcoats while others well, couldn’t care if they wore ensembles which went out with the hoola hoop.

The only sole exception to the rule, of course, has been Karan Johar who lavishes as much attention on his own wardrobe as he does on the trend-setting togs of his hi-glam heroes and heroines.

Not surprisingly, he’s India’s first filmmaker to be featured on the cover of a global fashion magazine – L’Officiel.. for which he was jet hopped to New York and back.

Customarily attired in neat cool threads in his office, Kjo is collared to talk fashion and some..

Did you ever imagine that some day you’d be a cover boy on a fashion magazine?
(Volubly) I could never have imagined that I would be on the cover of anything. My frame was too large to fit on to any cover. So I was too excited to shoot for the L’Officiel cover, for me it’s a human triumph of sorts. I used to have a 42-inch waist, I’ve brought it down to 33 inches..I’m working on getting it down to 31.

In effect, the cover of a fashion magazine cover, wasn’t even a faraway childhood dream. When I was 15, only my dear mom (Hiroo Johar) would say, “You’re so good looking.” Most moms are blind about their kids, you know. So, I’d stand before the mirror and say “Mom sorry just not hap , , pening.” Dad (Yash Johar) was more real, he’d have this, “No comments” expression on his face.

Are you serious about your mother ignoring your puppy fat?

Absolutely serious. She’d buy me clothes which were four inches tighter than what I needed.. because she just saw me so much slimmer than I was. As I grew up, forget shedding the puppy fat, I grew up into quite a healthy looking Alsatian.

You love getting photographed now, don’t you?
Of course, I love it..you don’t want me to be a hypocrite, do you?...so when Suparna Motwani, editor of L’Officiel wanted me to shoot for the cover in New York — two of my films (Kal Ho Na Ho and Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna) — have a huge New York connection, I said, “Wonderful, let’s go.” And I felt especially good because the magazine doesn’t necessarily feature film people..but those who make a style statement.

How many clothes do you personally own?
Oh god, I am to clothes what Imelda Marcos is to shoes. I have more clothes than I have hair on my head. My house is overflowing with clothes, even the kitchen cabinets are stored with my clothes. They make me feel good, blessed.

Last week, I was in bed with a raging viral fever. I was tired, burning.. retail therapy cured me instantly. I just went over to a store and bought myself a Ferregamo summer suit..and felt good, happy.

How much do you spend on clothes?

I just aspire to dress well, be happy, there’s no price tag to clothes. Once, food was the only thing I could pick up off the counter.. now I can pick up pret-a-porter clothes. Watches, sports cars gizmos..all that doesn’t interest me.

What about art..paintings?

Why should I go crazy buying paintings to hang on a wall?.I’d rather buy clothes to hang on myself.

Who likes the way your dress?

Mom! She’s the quintessential Indian mother..she’s happy to see that her son is smiling. A piece of garment may be a small thing but for me it’s a big thrill.

This relationship with clothes seems almost sexual.

Ha! Yeah maybe, I do get turned on by my own wardrobe.

You’re 34.. but often you dress up like a 25-year-old.

Thank you very much. Maybe I just believe in garment botox.

What does good friend Gauri Khan say about your clothes?

She’s too wrapped up in wearing her own clothes, she doesn’t care about what the others are wearing at all. At times, Shah Rukh Khan is shocked to see what I’m wearing. He says, “What is that godawful thing you’re wearing..

achha yeh fashion mein hai kya?”

Have you gone ever gone wrong in your dress style?

Hopefully not often. Overkill can be an error..once I got shoes to match with my belt.. that looked gross.

Are you brand conscious?

Nope, it’s better to go for anything that is ‘you’..even if that takes an entire day to hunt down in a shop.

You mean you wouldn’t recommend an Armani suit?

Of course, I would if it suits you..Armani has outstanding classic cuts.

Who are the worst-dressed celebrities in town?

Aha, that’s asking. Trust me they know who they are. All I can say is that Gauri Khan is THE most stylish person in town..and S R K which is why I love to style him.

Now tell me, how do you handle photo-sessions?

No problem. I enjoy posing and know that my left profile is the better one. I must have been 25 when Gautam (Rajadhyaksha) told me that.

When you were a kid, who was your dream dresser?

I was obsessed with the way Rishi Kapoor dressed. When he went into the printed sweater zone, I picked up a heap of those kind sweaters from Marks and Spencers..but they didn’t look good on me at all.

Okay, tell me would you go for clothes over say, diamonds?

Diamonds! You must be kidding, I don’t know what they’re about, not interested. In fact, give me a mall over a museum any day

People go to spas to relax, I go to the South Coast Plaza in Los Angeles, close to Orange County.

What if you were to talk to a shrink about your fashion fetish? No point. I’d just end up making the shrink wear better clothes.. without getting any advice in return.

Will you end up opening a fashion store some day?

No way! I’d lose the pleasure of walking into a store..a mall. I wouldn’t start a restaurant either. A clothesline of my own would be good some day though. But right now, professionally I just want to make many, many movies.

You’re going slow there.

I’ve always made one film in two years..which is not a bad track record at all. I’m working on my script..which has to be the film’s backbone..once that’s done, I’ll start shooting,



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