Karan Johar

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Karan Johar is...

...an Indian filmmaker whose first independent film as a director, made at age 26, was the no.1 hit of 1998 and among the most successful films of the decade. His next film as a director was the no.2 hit of 2001. By then he was all of 29 and already one of the two or three most powerful moguls of Filmistan, a status that he has retained.

Personal details

Born: 25 May 1972, Bombay

Son of the A list filmmaker Yash Johar

Sexual orientation

Why Karan Johar still won't say these three words, Jan 08 2017 : The Times of India

Effeminate, pansy, homo... KJo has been called a lot of things in his life. In this exclusive excerpt from his biography titled The Unsuitable Boy, he talks about why he's keeping the closet door firmly shut

Karan Johar
Getty Images

Karan Johar writes:

I lost my virginity at 26. Yes, it is true.

Why would I say this on record if it were not? It's not something I am proud of. It was in New York. Up till that point, I was sexually complete ly inexperienced. Even when I was a kid, I was very backward in this department... I still remember the first time someone told me about blow jobs. There was a kid in class who told me, `You know what a blow job is?' I said, `No, what is it? I've heard about it though.' He said, `You take off all your clothes and put your fan on high speed, and that's a blow job.' I said, `I can do that. What is the big deal in that?' And at 12, I remember, I removed my clothes and put my fan on full speed. Later, I told him about it and he said, `You did it!' I said, `Yeah, yeah, I did it three times.' He said, `You had three blow jobs yesterday!' I said, `Yeah, I had three blow jobs.'

While growing up, I was combating a hundred issues in my head. The thought of sex made me awkward; it almost rattled me. I thought, am I asexual? Why am I not feeling this? Why am I not doing anything? There was a lot of turbulence in my head. For me to address it, talk about it, discuss it, was a big no-no. I brushed it under the carpet all through the making of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. At that time, I was also very large and was grappling with my weight issues. I felt physically undesirable. Post Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, I had actually started working a little on my looks. I had lost some weight and had groomed myself a bit. Finally , I had developed a little spring in my step, a little confidence. That's when my first encounter happened, after the release of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, out of the country .

Today , people think that I have all the possible avenues to have all the sex in the world. But that's not who I am at all. To me, sex is a very , very personal and a very intimate feeling. It's not something that I can do casually , with just about anyone. I have to invest in it. ... I've always handled the rumours that came my way . There has been so much conjecture about my sexuality . For heaven's sake, for years there were rumours about Shah Rukh and me. And I was traumatized by it. I was on a show on a Hindi channel, and I was asked about Shah Rukh.`Yeh anokha rishta hai aap ka,' the interviewer said. He worded it in such a way that I got really angry . I said, `If I asked you if you are sleeping with your brother, how will you feel?' So he said, `What do you mean?

How can you ask me this question?' I said, `How could you ask me this question? For me, no matter what ups and downs Shah Rukh and I have been through, he is a father figure, an older brother to me. For me to look at him in that way or be subjected to those rumours was just ridiculous. But it didn't bother him. He said, `People talk nonsense, and if a man does not have an extramarital affair, he is supposed to be gay .'

I get scared of being spotted with any single man now because I think they are going to think that I am sleeping with him. I mean, firstly I have never ever talked about my orientation or sexuality because whether I am heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual, it is my concern. I refuse to talk about it...I have not been brought up to talk about my sex life. I know I am the butt of many jokes, pun intended. I know how my sexuality is discussed. I have become like the poster boy of homosexuality in this country . But honestly , I have no problem with people saying what they want about me. Twitter has the most abuse. I wake up to at least 200 hate posts saying, `Get out, you're polluting our nation, you're dirtying society' or `Shove [IPC Section] 377 up your arse.'

I get this on a daily basis and I've learnt to laugh it off...One man came up to me once very cockily at Heathrow airport and said, `Is it true that you are a homo?' He was with his wife and child, and he asked me this. I looked at him and said, `Why , are you interested?' And he said, `Hey , what what what!' And I said, `Don't what what me.' And I walked out...

Some major sections of the English media are very sensitive in the way they approach this question. I'll be asked, `Oh, there is some conjecture about, you know, your sexuality .' Everybody knows what my sexual orientation is. I don't need to scream it out. And if I need to spell it out, I won't only because I live in a country where I could possibly be jailed for saying this. Which is why I Karan Johar will not say the three words that possibly everybody knows about me in any case. I've given hints. I've stood on a platform like AIB Roast, and I had half of the people supporting me and the other half dissing me for doing this. But at the end of the day , I did what I did, and I did it with my mother in the front row, and screw you if you have a problem with that. The only thing that bothered me was when people stood on the high moral ground and said, `Why was your mother in the front row?' But she's cool...Do you know that I tried to stop her from coming but she insisted? So the thing I told her was, `Mum, laugh. Do not squirm and do not be embarrassed for me because I'm not embarrassed for myself.'

If they're going to make jokes about my sexual orientation, I'm okay about it. I'm not embarrassed about who I am. I'm not apologetic. I'm embarrassed about the country I live in vis-à-vis where I come from in terms of my orientation.I'm sad, upset and disheartened with the trolling that happens on social media... At the end of the day , this whole homophobia is so disheartening and upsetting. And then they say , `Why don't you speak about your sexuality? You could be iconic in this country .' But I don't want to be iconic anywhere. I want to live my life. The reason I don't say it out aloud is simply that I don't want to be dealing with the FIRs. I'm very sorry . I have a job, I have a commitment to my company , to my people who work for me; there are over a hundred people that I'm answerable to. I'm not going to sit in the courts because of ridiculous, completely bigoted individuals who have no education, no intelligence, who go into some kind of rapture for publicity . I've reached a point in my life where I am not going to conform to what people think I should be saying or doing...So if you have an opinion about my sexuality , then screw you. I don't care.

Edited excerpts from An Unsuitable Boy by Karan Johar with Poonam Saxena with permission from Penguin India

NY Times: The Man Who Let India Out of the Closet

(E)ach generation thinks it invented sex [and ecology and political correctness]; each generation is totally mistaken.

--Late 20th century saying, attributed to Robert A. Heinlein.

Likewise, the title of the excellent article below gives the impression that Mr Johar invented open declarations (‘closet opening’) of one’s own homosexuality.

In the 1970s there were these talented directors of English-language stage productions in Delhi and Bombay, in the 1940s there was Raghupati Sahai Firaq Gorakhpuri, and before them Nawabon kay shauq in the 1800s—and before them…

Even in the early 21st century superstar fashion designers—almost as celebrated as Mr Johar and only slightly less affluent—have long been out of the closet. As was the former head of India’s oldest (and, for almost a century, biggest) business house.

But journalists can't get published unless they imply that what they are writing about first happened no more than two weeks ago.They can't afford historical accuracy.

All the same it is a very well- written article. So, read on…

AATISH TASEER, The Man Who Let India Out of the Closet, FEB. 16, 2017, The New York Times

NEW DELHI — The most ubiquitous man in Bollywood is under tremendous pressure to utter three simple words: “I am gay.”

If these three words have acquired the force of absolution, it is because Karan Johar is by miles the most famous Indian ever to almost be openly gay. Since he burst onto the scene in the late 1990s, this 44-year-old director-producer has reached vast audiences with his movies. His name is a byword for family entertainment, his films by his own admission synonymous with “popcorn, bubble gum and frivolity.” All the stars are his friends, and the brightest of them appear on his immensely popular talk show “Koffee With Karan.” He has some 10 million followers on Twitter and almost three million on Instagram.

As a young protégé of his told me, “He is Bollywood.”

An ocean of innuendo has always surrounded Mr. Johar’s sexuality. He has done more than anybody to introduce the idea of homosexuality into the Indian home. It would seem no closet door was better primed to spring open than his. And yet when he tries the latch, he finds it sticks. “The only time I’m tight-lipped is when I’m asked about my sexuality,” he writes in his recently published memoir, “An Unsuitable Boy.” “It’s the only part of me I feel I’ve caged.”

What makes Mr. Johar’s case so much of a piece with this particular moment in India is that while he has been circumspect on his sexual orientation, he has, both in his life and his work, been breathtakingly explicit about sex: In 2013, he gave the Indian screen a smoldering gay kiss in “Bombay Talkies”; two years later, as roast master in a comic event that millions saw on YouTube, he joked before a live audience, with his mother present, of being the recipient of anal sex; in his new book, that same curious mixture of reticence and candor pervades. Mr. Johar will not use the male pronoun, but he writes openly and often movingly about everything from the pain of unreciprocated love to the aridity of having to pay for sex.

It is impossible not to see Mr. Johar against the background of the society in which he lives. India right now is in the grip of a strange schizophrenia when it comes to gay freedom. The gay dating apps are teeming with activity. Everyone is having sex. Even in small towns, men are furiously soliciting other men. But the legal recognition of same-sex love is stuck firmly in 19th-century Britain. In 2013, the same year Mr. Johar’s gay kiss hit movie screens across India, the Supreme Court reinstated Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which places homosexuality, alongside bestiality, as “against the order of nature.”

What the ruling in practice has come to mean is that gay sex for the most part is permitted — the authorities turn a blind eye — but is criminalized on the books, which means of course that marriage, or even any social or legal acknowledgment of same-sex love, is a distant dream. This has created a society where gay freedoms — which can mean Grindr on one end, and the right to marriage on the other — are reduced to carnal pleasure. India, as a consequence, feels like a place where love and sex have parted ways, and where the arc of freedom is bending toward license.

It is in this context that Mr. Johar’s equivocations acquire special meaning. He is not popular among activists and the intelligentsia. They accuse him of reducing gay characters to effeminate parodies. Apurva Asrani, the script writer of “Aligarh,” an affecting film about a gay professor in a Muslim university town, wrote in The Wire: “Sadly Karan’s public image reeks of the very same gay stereotyping that Bollywood infamously propagates — the frustrated sexual predator, the comic relief, the closeted ‘butt of all jokes.’ ”

But Mr. Johar knows that he is far more subversive than his critics admit. He has introduced the idea of homosexuality by stealth into the Indian home. He knows the limits of his “family” audience, but he works vigorously within them.

I’ve known Mr. Johar over the years, and when I ran into him in New York this winter, the impression I had was of a man who had quietly been pushing the edge of the envelope for years. He was a long way from “Dostana” (“Bromance”), his 2008 romantic comedy in which two men — both major stars — pretend to be gay so that they can rent an apartment with a pretty Indian girl abroad. Last year, he produced “Kapoor & Sons,” a film about the golden boy of a middle-class Indian family living a secret gay life abroad who eventually comes out to his distraught mother.

No major actor was willing to play the role. “I went to eight or nine stars,” Mr. Johar told me over lunch in New York, “and they all said that if the character is gay in the end, then no.” Finally he found Fawad Khan, a Pakistani actor, who gave a magnificent performance. (Mr. Khan was later forced to leave India because of tensions between India and Pakistan.)

Mr. Johar can reach many more people than an art-house director, but he also has to be more careful. He is a man working within the limits of a tradition, quietly assimilating outside influence. He has to make palatable to his vast audience changing attitudes, sexual mores and values. But the “popcorn, bubble gum and frivolity,” it turned out, is only a way to conceal something tart and acid and provocative.

One recent night in Mumbai, I found myself at a small party at Mr. Johar’s house. A group of stars had gathered on a balcony, overlooking the liquid darkness of sea and city lights. I’d just finished Mr. Johar’s book. Its last line is: “Death doesn’t scare me, life sometimes does.”

As I watched the producer among his friends, now a star lovingly nurtured, now a hero, aging but still handsome, I became acutely aware of his solitude. He is of that generation that came of sexual age maybe five or 10 years before the freedoms of this recent time burst upon us. That meant that Mr. Johar, though he has tried actively to find love — even, as he writes in his memoir, resorting to an agency that deals exclusively with the ultrarich and famous — faces the prospect of growing old alone. It’s a theme he returns to again and again in the book, as does his desire to have children. I hope he does.

Mr. Johar may not have uttered the three magic words, but his life and his work are a portrait in courage. Watching him play the host that night, I couldn’t help thinking that, for all his contradictions, he is a man who has done more than anyone to make India safe for love. One wants him not merely to be brave, but happy — and, needless to say, gay.

Aatish Taseer (@aatishtaseer) is a contributing opinion writer and the author, most recently, of the novel “The Way Things Were.”

Events in his life

Till 2016

Karan Johar's shocking revelations in an Unsuitable Boy, Mumbai Mirror | Jan 17, 2017

Karan Johar's much talked biography, An Unsuitable Boy, has kept the grapevine abuzz for a long time now. The book, launched by none other than his best buddy Shah Rukh Khan, encapsulates everything right from his illustrious movie-making voyage in the industry to emotional revelations about his fall out with close friends in the industry. Here, we list out five shocking revelations made by the talented director in his highly-anticipated book.

About his sexual orientation

Karan took the media by a storm when he came out of the closet. "Everybody knows what my sexual orientation is. I don't need to scream it out. I won't only because I live in a country where I could possibly be jailed for saying this," he quoted.

The LGBT community is not very happy about his remarks. They feel that his remarks might daunt other individuals from coming out of closet. Karan also revealed that he has to deal with a lot a hatred on social media regularly. He said, "I have become like the poster boy of homosexuality in this country... I wake up to at least 200 hate posts saying, 'Get out, you're polluting our nation, you're dirtying society' or 'Shove [IPC Section] 377 up your arse.' I get this on a daily basis."

His spat with Kareena Kapoor

In a Koffee with Karan episode, he mentioned that Kareena was like his daughter. But all was not well between the two a few years ago. Karan revealed that when he offered Kal Ho Na Ho to Bebo, who expressed her desired to be paid same as her co-star Shah Rukh Khan, which didn't go down well with Karan, who then approached Preity Zinta for the role.

Karan wrote, "I offered her Kal Ho Naa Ho, and she asked for the same money that Shah Rukh Khan was getting. I said, 'Sorry'. I was very hurt. I told my father, 'Leave that negotiation room' and I called her. She didn't take my call, and I said, 'We're not taking her.'" He added, "Kareena and I didn't speak to each other for almost a year. For a year, we looked through each other at parties. It was very idiotic."

When 25 year-old-friendship ended over a tweet

The acrimonious breakdown of his relationship with Kajol was the most heartbreaking revelation Karan made in his book. He officially confirmed that their friendship is over and he feels nothing for the actress. Karan said, "She was the one who mattered to me but now it's over. I wouldn't like to give a piece of myself to her at all because she's killed every bit of emotion I had for her for twenty-five years." He added, "I can't even say that I was hurt or pained by it. I just wanted to blank it out. When she reacted to the whole situation and put out a tweet saying, 'Shocked!' that's when I knew it was completely over for me."

Losing his virginity

Karan revealed that he lost his virginity at 26, post Kuch Kuch Hota Hai fame in New York. The experience which he stated was 'nerve-wracking' is one of the highlights in the biography. KJo wrote, "It just seemed a bit stupid; it seemed fake because obviously the person assigned to please you is going to please you artificially." The Ae Dil Hai Mushkildirector also mentioned that he paid for the first time he had sex.

His equation with SRK

Karan in his book wrote about absurd rumours about him and SRK making rounds. He wrote, "If I asked you if you are sleeping with your brother, how will you feel? For me, no matter what ups and downs Shah Rukh and I have been through, he is a father figure, an older brother to me."

He also talks about the time when their relationship was going through turbulence few years ago. "Shah Rukh is a very possessive friend. I think I may have hurt him when I made a film without him. And I think I got hurt because when I did, I felt he didn't give me that paternal or fraternal feeling that I had from him otherwise. I think we were two hurt friends for no reason," Karan wrote.

2017: a surrogate father

VijayV Singh | Karan Johar is dad to twins, via a surrogate Mar 05 2017 : The Times of India (Delhi)

Bollywood filmmaker Karan Johar has become the single parent of twins -a girl and a boy-born through surrogacy in Feb 2017. They have been named Roohi and Yash respectively.

The director-producer wasn't in the city to confirm the news, but civic officials said the births were registered with its public health department in March 2017 .

“The registrations were done on Friday ,“ BMC executive health officer Dr Padmaja Keskar said. TOI confirmed this from the central government website for birth and death registrations.

The twins were born at Masrani Hospital in Andheri (West) on February 7. However, Johar hasn't yet informed the BMC about the names of his children. A high-ranking BMC official said the children were registered in their birth record as a “baby girl“ and “baby boy“. In June 2013 Johar's close friend actor Shah Rukh Khan's third baby , AbRam, too, was born in the same hospital to a surrogate mother.

Civic officials said the birth registration details listed Johar as the children's father, but there is no mention of the mother's name. The BMC has taken the dec laration of Dr Masrani and his infertility clinic about the birth.

In June 2016, actor Tusshar Kapoor had announced the birth of his son, Laksshya, through in-vitro fertilisation and surrogacy .However, this prompted the Centre to frame guidelines for the surrogacy segment of infertility treatment. The draft bill bans commercial surrogacy , prohibiting any payment for women taking up surrogacy . It also bans surrogacy for singles, foreigners and persons of Indian origin.

See Surrogacy and the Law: India

Union health minister J P Nadda introduced the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill in the Lok Sabha in November 2016.In January , the Rajya Sabha chairman referred the bill to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on health and asked it to submit its report within three months.

In his recently released autobiography An Unsuitable , ` Boy', Karan Johar had expressed a desire to adopt a child or have a surrogate child as his old-age insurance poli cy. “I don't know what I'm going to do about it but I feel like I would like to be a parent. I don't know how it's go ing to happen but I do feel the need because I have plenty of love to offer and I'd like to take it forward. This feeling needs a release and requires a platform. And that platform could be by being a parent,“ he had said during the release of his book.


As a Director

1998 Kuch Kuch Hota Hai

2001 Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham...

2006 Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna

2010 My Name Is Khan

2012 Student of the Year

2013 Bombay Talkies

2016 Ae Dil Hai Mushkil

As a producer

1998 Duplicate (co-producer)

2003 Kal Ho Naa Ho

2005 Kaal (co-producer)

2008 Dostana

2009 Kurbaan

2009 Wake Up Sid

2010 I Hate Luv Storys

2010 We Are Family

2012 Agneepath

2012 Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu

2012 Student of the Year

2012 The Suite Life of Karan & Kabir (TV Series)

2013 Gippi

2013 Gori Tere Pyaar Mein

2013 The Lunchbox (co-producer)

2013 Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani

2014 Hasee Toh Phasee

2014 Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania

2014 Ungli

2014 2 States

2015 Phir Bhi Na Maane Badtameez Dil (TV Series)

2015 Shaandaar

2015 Brothers

2016 Ae Dil Hai Mushkil

2016 Baar Baar Dekho

2016 Dear Zindagi

2016 Kapoor & Sons

As a writer

1998 Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (dialogues,screenplay, story)

2001 Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... (writer)

2003 Kal Ho Naa Ho (story, screenplay)

2006 Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (story, screenplay)

2009 Kurbaan (story)

2012 Student of the Year (writer)

2013 Bombay Talkies (screenplay)

2016 Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (dialogues, story, screenplay)

As a costume designer

Mr Johar designed costumes for Mr. Shahrukh Khan in the following films

1997 Dil To Pagal Hai

1998 Duplicate

2000 Mohabbatein

2004 Main Hoon Na

2004 Veer-Zaara

2007 Om Shanti Om

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