Indian Cinema is a Scrumptious Buffet

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Karan Johar

“A Filmfare Award is as important as an Academy Award,” says Karan Johar clearly is witty, loquacious, a little wicked and lots of fun. He speaks to Manju Ramanan on his kind of cinema

The Rope Trick
The only game I could play in school was the tug of war. I was heavily overweight and it was me against the rest of them when we competed. Needless to say who won and why… laughs

Dubai and the UAE is
Not just geographically close to India, it is very close to the Indian film industry. Each small news item or snippet about Hindi cinema that I have read from here has been encouraging and supportive of Hindi cinema. I will always remember how My Name is Khan was so well received here. Success and failure, hit or flop is not in anyone’s control. We go wrong, we go right; the aim is to make good films.

Rose Tinted Schools and Colleges
That is how I see life. I’m melodramatic. I cry at the drop of a hat. I like colour and happiness. I’m opulent in my vision. I like schools that are colourful where students are well dressed, bright and happy.

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Student of the year
In terms of similarities, no, there is none. Except that both are set in academic institutions. While Kuch Kuch Hota Hai made you cry and laugh, Student of the makes you cry and reminisce about your college days and friends. It made people call up that friend from college and give him/her a hug or talk to her. The film celebrates friendship that goes beyond any relationship in the world. It also talks of male bonding. Friendship is the only relationship that doesn’t come with a bias.

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Love Stories and You
Love is a part of the story. Competition is the fulcrum. I am kind of done with love stories and have to tap my inner self to see if there is any love left in me ( smiles) There is a cryptic sense – that is just about you alone and the darkness within, the grey shades came out with Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna. Since this film is a youth endeavor and I can still derive out of the emotion I felt when I was 18-20 years of age and emulate it in film. Today if I have to go and make a love story with grown ups, with a white emotion and avoid the grey, I have to think.

The 100th year of Indian cinema
I see Indian cinema beyond what the global perspective is about. The world perspective on Hindi cinema is that it is a song and dance routine. We have a grand narrative and we have broken it into a song and dance routine, we have an interval in our construct and we have melodramatic emotions that no other cinema in the world has. I agree that we are slightly more dramatic than most but why does it then touch a German audience, an Italian audience, a Polish audience. They weep buckets after watching our films. They starve for a soul connect to our cinema.

Emotional Quotient
I have said it in nearly every global platform. We are the most unusual cinema in the world. I agree that some of it is brain-dead and some are extremely hardcore mainstream. When I showed Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham to a 1000 seater audience, all German, the visual of men and women walking out of the auditorium was a sight to see. They were traumatised emotionally and some of them even came up to me to tell me that they had never ever felt those emotions before. Also they didn’t understand why they never felt these emotions before. In fact the film was recommended by therapists in Germany so that people watched it and felt good. I feel that what chicken soup for the soul does to literature, Indian cinema does to the western world. What therapists do in America, our films do for us. The magic and that connect they find in a good Hindi film is not found anywhere else.

Sanction from the West
I don’t think we need that sanction at all. This whole thing of working in the West, wanting to win an Academy award, foreign collaborations etc are good and why not. But to me, there is nothing better than making a good solid Hindi film. I have worked with the world and met the world and it is wonderful to have these aspirations. A Filmfare Award is as important as an Academy award. There are so many Western film companies who want o work with me. I feel so honoured that they love me but I don’t want them because they do not want to make a Hindi film and I only want to make Hindi films. In the 100th year of Indian cinema right from Al am Ara to a Rowdy Rathore, we have covered the entire gamut of genres and have stood tall as an individual film making country with our own identity and personality.

Script or star
Unfortunately we celebrate script but never put it to test ever. Stars are our script sometime s. Indian sensibilities have a distinct need. India is always looking for a hero – whether it is politically, economically, industrially etc. We have a hero fixation and we like to put people on a pedestal and only follow what they do. Be it Rajnikant in the South or a Salman, Shahrukh or Aamir in Hindi , we need heroes. But I am happy to report that some prolific minds have made some great films at the mid and international level. Anurag Basu tooks tars in his film but told his own story in Barfi, Sujoy Ghosh had Vidya in the film and what a Kahaani it was, Udaan last year, gangs of Wasseypur this year, even Little Zizouu – are little gems rocking the mainstream canon. More power to them. Today Barfi does a 100 crore worth of business with such a subject. It makes me so proud of the content.

The Most Scruptious Buffet
Indian cinema is the most scrumptious buffet you can ever have. While you have the healthy salad, you have this big dish that people keep going to. And then you have a dessert that fills you up with contentment. That way it is the most glorious cinema in the world.

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