ONCE when producer-director Karan Johar was at an airport, a fan came up to him, placed his hand on Johar’s back and asked him if the filmmaker was a homosexual. Pat came Johar’s reply: “Why? Are you interested?”. This episode was narrated by columnist Shobhaa De at the launch of Johar’s memoir, An Unsuitable Boy (Penguin India), at a plush Bandra hotel on Monday evening. The filmmaker reasoned that “the bizarre questions” he faces from public has to do with his celebrity status. “When you’re a celebrity, people believe they own you. Perhaps, it’s because they see you every day in their living room. That allows them to cross the boundary of decency. Moreover, many people often don’t know what to say. They either are too polite or entirely inappropriate,” he said.
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The memoir, which was launched by his long-time friend and collaborator Shah Rukh Khan, has been in the news prior to the launch for Johar’s candour. In the memoir, Johar addresses the rumours surrounding his sexuality, and that he will come out publicly, some day on his terms, but at the launch he chose to give the issue a miss.
Co-written with journalist Poonam Saxena, Johar bares all for the first time about his childhood, the influence of his Sindhi mother and Punjabi father, obsession with Bollywood, his love life, the AIB Roast, rivalries as well as friendships.
An entire chapter of An Unsuitable Boy is dedicated to his friendship with Khan. “The book could have been called ‘A Good Boy’ — I don’t know anyone else who sits down with their mother at the end of the day and discusses teleshopping. It could have been called ‘A Brave Boy’ — to be so different, especially in this country, and to have achieved what he has is very special. And finally, the book could have been called ‘A Beautiful Boy’. He’s the most beautiful person I have ever seen in my life,” said Khan.
At the launch, Johar also also spoke about his fallout with actor Kajol, a friend for nearly 25 years. “Chapters end, books end and even relationships end,” said the Kuch Kuch Hota Hai director. When his friendship with Kajol ended, the first person Johar spoke to about it was Khan. He made more revelations when he spoke about his “paternal instinct”.
Johar said: “I have a nurturing quality in me. I have love to offer. I have a strong paternal instinct.” Johar confessed that he realised this when he launched Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan and Sidharth Malhotra in Student of the Year (2012). Bhatt and Malhotra were in the audience with Gauri Khan and other Bollywood celebrities.