Indian director Karan Johar is basking in the glory of his recent directorial venture Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani. The Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt starrer brought the acclaimed director back from his seven-year hiatus as Johar juggles his responsibilities as the head of Dharma Productions and hosting his infamous talk show, Koffee With Karan.
Discussing the changes in the entertainment industry since his debut Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, highlighted the impact of the digital revolution. He referred to it as “heartbreaking,” stating, “The magic of it [print] it’s so different from what digital film can give you, but you accept it.”
“More than anything, I feel like there’s a huge loss of innocence,” he continued. “When I made my first film, a lot of it came from that innocence. Now you feel more policed by social media and critics, and you brainstorm your beliefs. This is a disadvantage for the development of cinema.”
Johar, well aware of nepotism in the film industry, reflected on the attention he has garnered recently. “We’re ahead of it,” he remarked. Defending his choice to play Alia Bhatt in Student of the Year, he said: “There was an instinct that I had when I first saw Alia’s audition. She is in many ways my firstborn because the feeling is very parental. When she walked into the room, it didn’t matter who her father was, he just jumped out. Many years later, it has been attributed to nepotism and is just unfortunate and not true.”
Despite his success in India, Johar has not entertained Hollywood’s thoughts. He recalled the time after the success of My Name Is Khan, when he traveled to Los Angeles several times for meetings. “It took a few trips to Los Angeles to realize that everything is great and you have a lot of meetings, but my heart is in my country and my cinema is in my heart,” he said. “I don’t want to let this go. I don’t want to make films without the language that raised me.”
Receiving it Variety Vanguard Award, Johar acknowledged, “Getting this award today is an achievement. I don’t need to make an English film to [win] the. It would be amazing to walk the red carpet at the Oscars, but I’d like it to be with a Hindi language film.”
Although he has no Hollywood ambitions, he confessed a dream: to meet Meryl Streep. “It’s the only item on my shopping list. If I could have an hour with her, I could die and go to heaven.’ He continued, “Her ability to be relevant in any decade is so admirable. The thing about relevance is that you have to evolve with the times, and there are some artists who understand that more than others, and I think she’s one of them.”
Reflecting on Indian cinema, Johar noted, “The most common misconception foreign audiences have about Indian cinema is that ‘we’re all about singing and dancing’. This misunderstanding has set us back many years.” He highlighted the diverse storytelling available in Indian cinema and expressed gratitude for the streaming services that make these stories accessible globally.
“The world needs to wake up to Indian stories and storytelling,” he urged, emphasizing the richness and diversity of narratives that deserve global attention.
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