Tag Archives: johar

Karan Johar is a soft target: India is actually a sad tale of an unequal democracy

Filmmaker Karan Johar must be a very confused man these days.

In a country where he enjoys the same rights as others, how can outfits, political and otherwise, of small consequence hold his business interests to ransom with such ease? How on earth would he know that India’s relations with Pakistan would nosedive a year later and make decisions accordingly now?

He can make movies, provide employment to a lot of people, entertain a huge audience, make money and make richer everyone down the value chain, but how is he supposed to handle it when theatre owners decide not to screen his movie on a whim or under pressure?

He is a soft target. Like so many others of his ilk and the creative community. He is an influential, even powerful, person in the film industry. But it is soft power he wields, not the real power – of muscle and ability to carry out threats – that counts, and is grudgingly respected in the country.

He cannot vandalise theatres, unleash a few hundred men to tear down posters or stage rallies and issue warning to artistes. He can direct a movie sending a subtle message to a world getting paranoid over terror and Islamophobic, but he cannot terrorise people. He would like to mind his work.

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While minding his work, he would expect a few constants. Respite from hassles not connected to his work is one of them. He would like his business interests protected too. If he is threatened in any way, he would expect the police to be of help. If there’s a dispute of some other kind he would like to knock the doors of the judiciary. These are the avenues open to him, like to any other Indian. If there’s no help from these two, he is helpless. He can only be at the mercy of extra-constitutional powers.

That’s what separates people like Karan Johar and say, someone like Raj Thackeray, chief of Maharashtra Navirman Sena, and makes him so unequal in the democracy ours. Leaders of outfits with local or limited interest command people who can carry out dire threats, make trade unions stop work and owners of theatres drop the idea of screening a movie.

They only need an issue with emotional content. It could be anything – patriotism, nationalism and any matter relating to religion, region and culture.

Thus we have organisations attacking pubs, killing rationalists, raiding libraries, threatening writers, harassing women in short skirts, destroying art work in exhibitions, branding people anti-national, snooping on food in hotels and what not. The list of targets can be unending.

Since intimidation is the accepted language of conversation among these people, polite dialogue or conversation is out of question. Backed as they are by political powers, the law looks the other way when they are in action. They virtually go scot-free every time, encouraged thus to carry out their next offensive without much worry.

Where does that leave Karan Johar or by extension us? Johar’s problem is he could be targeted at multiple points, right from the stage of shooting to where his movie would be screened. People at different points can be ‘managed’in different ways and he can hardly do anything about it.

Others are more fortunate that way. Still that does not take away the helplessness we are exposed to. What is more worrisome is earlier these attacks or threats used to be irregular; the frequency of the activities of such groups over the last couple of years has made it a trend. There’s more violence and tendency to coerce in the air.

Can we be assured of protection from these people? When the ruling establishment go indifferent and other political parties play the game of opportunism it is virtually impossible. It is one of the existential crises we face now. Wielders of rough, crude power are overwhelming those commanding soft power. It’s a mockery of the idea of all Indians being equal.

Ajay Devgn on clash with Karan Johar: ‘Don’t waste my time thinking about anybody else’s film’

This has been the season of clashes.

It all started last year in December with Bajirao Mastani and Dilwale clashing, which was followed by rumours of a big clash between Raees and Sultan. However, we are guessing Shah Rukh Khan decided to play it safe after Bajirao Mastani did better box office business, and Sultan had a solo release.

The clash between Mohenjo Daro and Rustom is still underway, with Rustom emerging as a winner .

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However, one of the biggest clashes of this year has to been between Karan Johar’s directorial venture Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and Ajay Devgn’s directorial venture Shivaay, both of which are releasing on Diwali this year.

While both Johar and Devgn have not spoken about the clash till now, Ajay has finally addressed the elephant in the room, in this DNA interview. Not known to mince his words, Devgn has been very straightforward about his stance.

“I don’t waste my time thinking about anybody else’s film. I want to concentrate on my film because, eventually, it’s the product that speaks. Why break my concentration? I’m only concerned about what I’m making,” said Ajay Devgn upon being asked if he is “prepared” for the clash with Karan Johar’s film.

He further said that when they announced the release date for Shivaay, nobody else was releasing a film at the time, and that it’s their [Dharma Productions] prerogative if they want to cash in on a good day. Devgn further informed that when he reached out to Fox Star India (who are co-producing Ae Dil Hai Mushkil) they refused to budge on the release.

This is especially a delicate clash because Devgn’s wife and actress Kajol, and Karan Johar have been thick since even before they started their careers. There have been reports of a fall out between the two since the clash.

Both these films, Shivaay and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil are very crucial to Ajay Devgn and Karan Johar respectively. This is Ajay Devgn’s second film as a director after 2008’s U Me Aur Hum and his last film was DrishyamShivaay has taken close to two years to script and make and therefore its stakes are very high.

Karan Johar, on the hand, directed his last film (Student of the Year) in 2012, and has been producing films since then. His lead actor in the film is Ranbir Kapoor, whose last few films have not been successful. Anushka Sharma is, for all practical purposes, the most “bankable” star in his film.

This must be something that plagues Johar since he was the one who conveniently “dropped” Imran Khan from his favourites list after he stopped delivering hits.

Given this background on the film, is it strange that Johar is making no sounds about his film. There are no hashtags, no first looks, no songs, not even Instagram posts about it. Just radio silence. Should we be expecting an announcement of a shift in release soon?