An open letter to Raj Thackeray: Karan Johar made Britishers sing Jana Gana Mana. How can anyone question his patriotism?

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil director-producer Karan Johar's patriotism is now being questioned. But why?

Written by Sonup Sahadevan | Mumbai | Published:October 21, 2016 12:03 pm
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Dear Raj Thackeray,

Before I address the central issue about Karan Johar’s patriotism that is now being questioned, I would like to take a moment to talk about your own creative inclinations. Apart from being a firebrand leader, you were once passionate about filmmaking long before politics happened. In fact, you even wanted to work with Walt Disney at one point. “In my college days, I wanted to work with Walt Disney Studios. I drew cartoons even before my foray in politics. Filmmaking is also a passion. I would have been doing either of these things,” you had once said in an interview. You also learnt the tabla in your childhood before Balasaheb Thackeray encouraged you to become a cartoonist, again another creative pursuit. Your father-in-law late Mohan Wagh was a producer and a highly revered name in the field of Marathi theater. Suffice to say your connection with the creative field is not superficial. I believe you are extremely knowledgeable about art and cinema which means unlike other politicians you can effectively understand and also empathise with the vagaries a filmmaker has to undergo when terrorism and its after effects pose the danger of derailing his film that he has given his sweat and blood to along with scores of other Indians because of the minor presence of Pakistani actor in it.

 

 

Now to address the elephant in the room- Karan Johar’s patriotism and does casting Fawad Khan in an extended cameo in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil make him an anti-national? To seek answers to the same, I decided to delve into Karan’s speech made through a video he released recently in response to accusations being traded online about him being an anti-national. One of the lines that caught my attention was him saying, ‘I have always believed that the best way to express patriotism is to spread love and that is all I have ever tried to do through my work.’ A little research into Karan’s work and I realised he isn’t exactly of the mark in saying so.

In 2001, as a 29-year-old film director, Karan did the unthinkable by including our national anthem Jana Gana Mana in a very commercial family enterprise called Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham(K3G). I was then a college going youngster and still vividly remember the happenings inside the theater while the national anthem scene played out. The moment the school kids including foreign ones started singing Kajol, SRK and others stood in rapt attention on screen. Slowly as the camera panned on others, one saw the Britishers rising one after another. The camera stopped briefly at a wheelchair using differently abled English kid who too raised her hand in respect. That was precisely the moment when a gentleman seated in front of me stood up and many of us followed suit. I just revisited the song on YouTube and it today has a total of 9,901,014 views and more than 1000 comments most of which have people saying proud to be an Indian, love my India, gave me goosebumps. There is one user from Afghanistan who writes, “Wow amazing I love this I am crying…we love India love from Afghanistan ❤.” Another one writes, “I love India. I’m from South America while another one from Pakistan writes, “I’m from Pakistan and I love this scene. Patriotism for your nation is always a good thing. I remember very well watching this movie in theater.”

Also read | Ranbir Kapoor is tensed on Ae Dil Hai Mushkil row, says Ayan Mukherjee

I always wondered what made Karan include our national anthem in K3G. In a 2009 interview with a tabloid, Karan had this to say. “When I hear the national anthem, I’m overwhelmed. It fills me with a sense of pride. When I hear it playing at cinema halls, especially the one sung by Lataji, A R Rehman and other veterans it gives me goosebumps; makes my hair stand. And it happens every time I hear the anthem. That’s why I included Jana Gana Mana in my film Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham. Indians abroad are extremely patriotic and K3G is about such a quintessential Indian family, which is away from their country, but rooted to India. Follow your instincts, but have respect and reverence for your country and family should be the mantra of every Indian.”

Interestingly, some publicity seeking man filed a case again KJO on charges of insulting the national anthem in the movie. Karan fought tooth and nail for 14 years till he was finally granted a clean chit by the court earlier in January this year.

 

Karan’s next movie, Kal Ho Naa Ho which he produced and also wrote the story and screenplay for saw Indian patriotism travelling to USA. One of the most beautiful, inspiring and patriotic dialogues that you will ever hear was spoken by Shah Rukh Khan in the film. “Hamare hath main ek aisi taqat hai jiska naam hai Hindustan. Hume Hindustan New York Main lekar aana hai. Kyunki Hindustan jo chahe, jaisa chahe, jahan chahe, waisa kar sakta hai. Toh phir yeh Chinese kya cheez hai.” That’s patriotic enough for me.

In 2006, in an interview with Aaj Tak when veteran journalist Prabhu Chawla grilled Karan about making films only for the NRI audience, the filmmaker replied without batting an eyelid, “I make films for Hindustani audience. Meri nazar Hindustani audience par hai. Woh jahan kahin bhi ho chahe Bihar ho ya New york ya London.”

karan-johar-759-express

Fast forward to February 2016, while addressing students at the Kennedy School at Harvard university, Karan had this to say about our Hindi film industry. “Anyone I meet internationally when I tell them I make Hindi movies they are like- Oh! Bollywood. I have tried very hard to tell them we make really good movies and we are not a poor spin off of Hollywood. We actually stand tall as one of the leading filmmaking nations in the world. We are the only film industry that has never needed Hollywood money or money from outside. We have been self-sufficient, we have a great domestic film economy and we stand tall and we are the only ones where studios had to come begging to us. We didn’t go to them. They came to India. Be it Fox, Disney or Warner. They all came to India. When I met the team at Fox, I told them, ‘You have to change the way you operate.’ They were sending us big legal dockets to give to SRK and Amitabh Bachchan. And I told them where I come from I send a note saying, ‘Dear Amit Uncle, Thank you for doing my movie. I love you lots. Karan. That is my contract. We are a proud filmmaking nation.”

Sir, I have set out only a few instances from Karan’s life to indicate his pride for his motherland, India. Forget Pakistan, nowhere has he extolled virtues of any other country but India. Our country is what he was, is and will always be proud of. In light of such overwhelming evidence, it would be wrong to brand Karan Johar an anti-national for engaging the services of an actor from Pakistan for an extended cameo in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. He is as patriotic as you, me or every other proud Indian. And just like most of his films shot in Europe or America, who knows even ADHM could have a patriotic angle to it with Ranbir Kapoor as the harbinger of the same. And that is something one will only discover after watching the movie which is why it is important for it to get a fair release. For someone who made the goras of England sing our national anthem, he could very well make Pakistanis dance to his tunes. After all, he did make Fawad play a homosexual character onscreen, a first definitely in many ways.

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As Indians, all of us stand firmly with our country and for those who had doubts in their minds about Karan’s earlier allegedly pro-Pakistani stance, the man has already made it amply clear that he has no intention of engaging the services of cross-border talent in future. That’s a big blow to Fawad Khan and co. As big as India sending Pakistan packing in every World Cup. Karan’s decision effectively means Fawad will no longer star opposite Katrina Kaif in his home production, Raat Baaki which would have otherwise been Fawad’s first solo lead film.

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  1. P
    Puni
    Oct 22, 2016 at 4:27 am
    It's not kAran Johor we doubt, it's the stani actor in his film that is being targeted, pl get your facts right, if kAran wanted he could have made changes to his role but he stuck to his favourite fawad, that is the issue and it's not anything personal against kAran johar, on India REPUBLIC AND INDEPENDENCE DAY WE DO NOT WANT TO SEE STANI ACTORS, NOR DO WE WANT TO SEE THEM DURING OUR FESTIVALS. The end
    Reply
    1. P
      Preeti
      Oct 24, 2016 at 4:20 am
      Omar u r no one to justify our india army and if stani will attack to our indian soldiers in returns our soldiers will always kill stanis not only across loc in anywhere the world and to those also who suppose to stand with them. Dont ever try to mix yours dirty politics with the patriotism. Dont try to turn the table on the worung side. stani are also banning india films in their country. Rest Bollywood have more then enough actor and actress to make films. Dont ever try to misguide people.
      Reply
      1. B
        Bharat
        Oct 21, 2016 at 9:53 am
        People who talks about patriotism and are themselves involved in beating up our own Indian .. and few people support bcoz they are not from their community .. and this is called terrorist .. terrorist means people who dont agree with democracy and kill others innocent people ..they can be from any country .. so we also have terrorist and some people support them in the name of Gau rakshak etc
        Reply
        1. విక్ర మ్
          Oct 21, 2016 at 6:00 pm
          Seriously speaking how many will die if the film is not showing up ? Is he just want to make money from Ranbir and aish rasleela scenes ? :P
          Reply
          1. C
            Chand
            Oct 21, 2016 at 9:08 am
            The writer misses the core issue, it's another attempt by MNS to be in the news as civic elections are around. Karan Johar had completed his movie long before the border issue and Fahad had acted in other hindi films before. There is no issue of patriotism here as MNS has attacked north Indians living in Mumbai earlier with an eye on the vote bank.
            Reply
            1. A
              arati
              Oct 22, 2016 at 6:46 am
              allowing ba*****s to work in india will give you nice entertainment at the cost of indian soldiers' and civilians' lives and india's dignity? as usual we know you are a pig in the unfortunate guise of indian citizen who will lick feet and spit on the plate where you have eaten food. no wonder the animals of is****c countries (who are mistakenly called people) always are on the run to other countries for survival and again destruction of the same host countries where they are running away to.
              Reply
              1. A
                arati
                Oct 22, 2016 at 6:07 am
                why he could not make the stani soldiers, the jaish e mohammad and laskhar e toiba sing jana gana mana?
                Reply
                1. H
                  Harshawardhan Joshi
                  Oct 21, 2016 at 7:33 am
                  Above article is a hopeless attempt to diver attention from actual issue. It's full joke that Karan made Britishers sing national anthem. Its insult to intelligence of people reading it. Very crude attempt to declare Karan as patriot. Look man he is there to make money. So what? Britishers singing INDIAN anthem is a part of business. So is casting fawad khan. Pls understand that readers are not . Even though such cr is published by INDIAN express, it doesn't make is golden cr, it's stood cr and garbage.
                  Reply
                  1. M
                    mohan
                    Oct 22, 2016 at 4:19 am
                    Now IE you are supporting karn who refuses to condemn the pak actorsandcommissioning an article to defend him by citing pettyanduseless things.IE you tell us why karn has not condemned the URI attack?IS it due to his love for the country or for his toeing the line of pak?Withold it alsoandsupport pro pak elementsanddisrespect the brave army of the country.
                    Reply
                    1. M
                      mohan
                      Oct 22, 2016 at 4:31 am
                      Your achievement is licking the buttocks of s.
                      Reply
                      1. W
                        Who is
                        Oct 21, 2016 at 9:22 pm
                        Leave the PoS Thakray where he belongs. No need to give him any importance. Life will go on with him or without him.
                        Reply
                        1. W
                          Who is
                          Oct 21, 2016 at 9:25 pm
                          and what's your achievement. Licking up Thakrays feet will make you great patriotic.
                          Reply
                          1. K
                            Kay Gee
                            Oct 21, 2016 at 9:04 pm
                            Issue is not Karan Johar film, issue is an actor from a country supporting terror. As on going campaign for using india made, the film is stopped ftom releasing. Gulam ali was stopped only due to his nationality. Supporting a national you are indirectly supporting the nation.
                            Reply
                            1. P
                              PUSPARAJ SAHOO
                              Oct 21, 2016 at 7:18 am
                              Jai Hind!lt;br/gt; If Britishers sang our National anthem then our people do so. It is done in respect. There is no link in between. The author is trying to mislead the people of Republic of India. When there is a issue of the Armed forces going on then we must stand by them not do what people like so called artist/producers do.
                              Reply
                              1. A
                                alice
                                Oct 21, 2016 at 1:54 pm
                                well said.. :)
                                Reply
                                1. B
                                  Buddy
                                  Oct 21, 2016 at 12:43 pm
                                  sahi bola
                                  Reply
                                  1. S
                                    s
                                    Oct 22, 2016 at 6:46 am
                                    Nobody has accused Karan johar of being anti national. RAJ THAKERAY has only questioned Karan for taking stani actors into his films as if there are no competent indians. To say he shows love in his films could he not have demonstrated his love for the familiea of martyrs.
                                    Reply
                                    1. R
                                      Rajesh
                                      Oct 21, 2016 at 7:26 am
                                      Thank you writer for sending a strong message to those people who talks about patriotism and are themselves involved in beating up our own Indian people when they are found working in other states which belongs to their own country.
                                      Reply
                                      1. R
                                        Ram
                                        Oct 21, 2016 at 2:11 pm
                                        I request the CM Derendra Phadanvis to accommodate Raj Thakare and appoint him to issue 'Certificate of Patroitism' and without the same nobody should be allowed to stay, work or do business in Maharashtra. That will boost his image and income also.
                                        Reply
                                        1. S
                                          Sarma
                                          Oct 21, 2016 at 5:00 pm
                                          When stan is killing Indians soldiers, why should he be in love the stani actors. The Britishers sang Indian anthem because they are paid for it. Thee is so much talent all over India , in south, East and many other parts. For Karan, Sha rukh khan and some so called filmiwalas , who want to make money cannot see or remember the soldiers who guard borders day and night and die for the country. Is soldier life less important than Karan having stani actors.The Bollywood industry is not producing any artgt; It is a money making machine. So all of the actors except a few.
                                          Reply
                                          1. J
                                            Jitendra Aawhad
                                            Oct 21, 2016 at 7:14 am
                                            I am constantly amazed at the dumbness of people, MNS never called them anti-national. they have constantly said that Pak actors refuse to condemn terror attacks and that's why they don't want them to work. Nobody doubts anyone's patriotism. DOn't form opinion on half truths
                                            Reply
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