Karan Johar’s memoir reflects Bollywood’s ambiguity


The much-anticipated memoir of filmmaker Karan Johar has been creating waves on social media after chapters describing his fallout with actress Kajol were leaked on Twitter — and for the candid talk about his sexual orientation.

But contrary to the initial reports as well as expectations, An Unsuitable Boy is much more than just the narrative of a fallout. Honest, decisive and compelling, it lays bare the other side of Bollywood’s pomp and gaiety.

It’s also brutally frank about Kajol. “I don’t have a relationship with Kajol any more. We have had a fallout. Something happened that disturbed me deeply which I will not talk about because it is something that I like to protect and I feel it would not be fair to her or to me. After two-and-a-half decades, Kajol and I don’t talk at all,” he writes.

The problem was not so much with Kajol but with her husband Ajay Devgan, Karan says in the next paragraph, without elaborating. And when did this happen? Before the release of Karan and Ajay’s films ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ and ‘Shivaay’ last October.

Much has been said and anticipated about Karan’s sexual orientation in the past but he has somehow maintained a low profile on this, avoiding the topic on many occasions. It is for the first time that the filmmaker has talked at length about this aspect.

The filmmaker feels that the new trait he has acquired is honesty, something which, according to him, he did not have in the last decade because he felt the need not to be honest in personal or professional situations. “There was a time when I was very concerned about what other film-makers did… it was borderline jealousy, competition… I used to sometimes wish their films wouldn’t do as well as they did. I used to be troubled by Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s brilliance. I used to be affected that I couldn’t write a film like Raju Hirani,” Karan regrets.

After all these years, he is no longer bothered. “If I hear a film has done well, great. Good for you,” he writes.

Another significant issue that finds mentions is his feeling that he never gets credit for his work. “I feel no matter what kind of films I do, I never get credit. It gets forgotten immediately afterwards. I am still associated with popcorn, frivolity, NRIs and rich people,” Karan writes.

One thing is clear, Karan is not delivering a sermon or projecting the faults of the film industry or offering to advise on what to do and what not to do in Bollywood, he is rather telling a story — his very intimate personal story — which is replete with all things contrary to common belief.

Has the filmmaker been honest in his narrative? One cannot say for sure, but given the fact that most of those he writes about are still very much around, some as powerful in the film industry as this filmmaker himself, one would imagine so.

Despite the controversies that are already doing rounds and those that may crop up in the days to come, this is a significant memoir, opening doors to the troubled minds of Bollywood. More than anything else it tells us that beneath those happy faces smiling and posing for paparazzi, lie oceans of sorrow, disappointments, heartbreaks and, yes, even obsession for sex.