An Unsuitable Boy…

A memoir by Karan Johar

First of all the title, ” An Unsuitable Boy”, is the most unsuitable one. The implications of the title are clear enough , yet I disagree with the title, how can a great human being be unsuitable for anything .

Is one’s sexuality the only yardstick to gauge a person’s contribution to the society,if so what kind of societal norms are these ?

I believe  the Biological construct of a human being is beyond one’s control and in such a case the sexual preferences of individuals is none of anybody’s business including the Society and the State.

The memoir begins with a Prologue which sets the tone for the whole book.There is an air of honesty and conviction in the narrative and the reader cant help but be pulled into the endearing world of Karan Johar.

The Prologue begins with the talk about his latest film, ” Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” and the autobiographical elments in it . There is a beautiful dialogue which goes like this,

“Rishtey jab jismani ho jaate hain toh kahin na kahin dosti mit jaati hai. Pyar mein junoon hai par dosti mein sukoon hai aur main nahin chahti ki hamare beech ka sukoon kabhi chala jaaye”.

At the age of 35 , Karan in love was left heartbroken when his love went unrequited and was told that he was the most important person as a friend but just not as a lover. He comes out with great musings on love when he says,

To love someone is such a feeling of power, because even if you don’t get that love back, you still have it. It could be a weakness, it could be a strength. I took the love I had as a source of great strength.”

The first chapter describes the childhood of a cute overweight chubby young kid. The small two bedroom flat , his Punjabi father and a Sindhi mom , his closeness to his dad who was more like a grandad than a dad, his fear for his mom and her convent influenced standards in academics. He grew up  most of the time surrounded by his aunts who were already into glamorous professions and wore stylish clothes and led a hi fi life.Yet he was a lonely child and craved for a sibling. He was an introvert and felt tapped inside an overweight body, yet he could never curb his love for food and found solace in it.In addition to all this he had to face humiliation at school of being called names like Pansy which he hated  and added to his woes and low self esteem.

He describes his experiences in hostel and his return home to the great disappointment of his mom who had great dreams for him. The vivid heart wrenching descriptions leave the reader teary eyed.

He talks about the defining moment in his life when he won a cup in the Debate Interschool competition for the first time in the hsitory of his school. From then on his life took an upward turn, he became well known in his school and by the end of the final year he had reached a superdom as a speaker.

At the end of the final speech,everyone clapped. When I got off the stage, I remember feeling very strongly that I was going to be famous.

The next chapters describe the next phase of his life in college and a group of friends , amongst whom one is a CEO of his Production Company .

Further down the book we are led slowly into the world of glamour, a world of make believe and how he got his first break as an Assistant Director to his best friend Aditya Chopra for his debut film,” Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge”. Shahrukh and Kajol were so imptessed with the young lad and his various talents, scripting, costume designing, offering constructive suggestions during the shootings that they committed themselves to do a film with KJO whenever he had had a script ready.And thus two years later to the great astonishment of his mom and dad his first debut film went on floors,”Kuch kuch Hota Hai” which went on to get him instant fame as well as the attention of the underworld , as a result of which he missed tasting his first success as he was out of the country during that period.

He was the apple of his father’s eye, and I cant resist reproducing a part of his emotional thanksgiving speech on an International Dais during the IIFA awards soon after which he lost his father to cancer.

Fathers and Sons, probably one of the most emotionally deep, human relationships. Probably one of the most intense human equations. Words alone cannot describe what a father and son feel for each other, simply because there are so few words in this relationship. So much is left unsaid between the two of them. Communication or the lack of it , always broadens the gap between the twoo of them. There’s always a gap between a father and son, a gap between a name and a surname.

He takes us on a journey from one film to another , letting us see into the inner world of his mind, the creative processes, the experiences and the various implications and consequences of his decisions.

“Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna ” a film on infidelity and much ahead of its times in the Indian context shifted the scene from the bedrooms to the sitting rooms.His take on Infidelity is thought provoking:

Infidelity is a reality of life. You find me one marriage that has opportunity and hasn’t succumbed to it. Cynical as that sounds, it’s a part of urban life. Marriages go through ups and downs. But people don’t like to see it on screen.They experience it at home, brush it under the carpet and move on.There is a huge latent hypocrisy in our society. Especially in a country and culture like ours. We dont like to acknowledge infidelity. I have a simple theory. I’m one of those people who feel that if you want to save your home and marriage, don’t consider sexual infidelity as infidelity. Sometimes consider it as an error, forgive and move on…..

My only advice is: Make sure your spouse doesn’t know. Sometimes you do love your spouse but you are not necessarily turned on by them after two decades of marriage

Being Single and observing marriages from a vantage point, he has some interesting questions :

Is Divorce the new marriage? I dont know. it’s really strange. Where is that old school resilience? Or the old world commitment to the institution ? Is it now a thing of the past?

Karan Johar  makes extremely relevant observations and that makes all the difference. When he talks about 73 year old Amitabh Bachan , he says he is relevant to the youth because he has kept himself updated. He is present on all social media like facebook,twitter etc.

There is a whole chapter dedicated to Shahrukh Khan and his relationship with him and his family. Karan Johar is clearly a  yaaro ka yaar( a great friend) as he talks about his huge circle of closest friends in the industry.

A very note worthy concept in which I believe completely with  KJO is that of confrontation.

Confrontation is such an underrated concept. But it’s so important in any relationship. It’s an Indian thing I think,of not sitting across and sorting a problem out. People won’t say I have a problem with you. They’ll insinuate, they’ll back off, they won’t message, they won’t call back, and they’ll sulk. It’s such a stupid waste of time. I used to be non – confrontational, but I’ve become confrontational because once too often I’ve been scarred by the lack of communication in a relationship. Always confront. Don’t allow things to fester. If you continue to suppress the emotion, it will explode in your face one day.

My salutes to Karan Johar as he talks so candidly about love and sex in his life and that too in print. His first misadventures and various experiences thereafter. He declares with great flamboyance about his single status and his liberation from love and sex stating that his work is his biggest orgasm.

A very interesting relevation is about his phase with depression and his treatment with a Psychologist.And he rightly says that the West overreacts to it, and in India we under react to it.One must read it to understand the full implications and relevance to current lifestyles.

The Book is strongly recommended to all the lovers of films and of course for Karan Johar himself. The book oozes of love , love and more love . His humour makes us laugh aloud , chuckle and giggle all throughout as well as teary eyed with his honest confessions.We close the last page hoping for the sequel soon.

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