Karan Johar, the family guy

Sunday, 2 December 2012 - 8:38pm IST | Place: Bangalore | Agency: dna

In this interview with DNA, the director opens up about the 4 am friendship he shares with his mother and how his star friends might be the siblings he never had.

For Karan Johar, it really is about loving your family. While that may not be what he set out to be recognised for when he started with his movies, the filmmaker today is one name that is closely associated with the words, ‘family, values, relationships.’ That’s also the reason why you see him on TV these days, endorsing the soon-to-be launched show,  Packed to the Rafters. “The channel found a connect with my repertoire and approached me to endorse the show,” opens Karan as he sits down to chat with After Hrs about the show and more importantly about the relationships in his life that make him value everything that stands for ‘family’.

“Packed to the Rafters is the story of the Rafter family— a mother, father and three kids who come back home due to different circumstances, it’s about the obstacles they face and how they stick together despite it,” he says, quickly surmising the plot of the show adding quite self-assuredly that the show will find its takers in the country because “it has tremendous connect with the Indian ethos.” “When all else fails, there’s family,” is one of the statements that Karan makes, rather evocatively at that, in the show’s promos. Quiz him if he wrote the lines himself and he promptly says, “I actually didn’t write the lines. I just spoke all of it, ad hoc. All that I’ve said is what I genuinely feel.”

Mother knows best
Now, one of the relationships he genuinely cherishes is the close relationship he shares with his mother. He says it in the show promo and he’s said it before, of his not-so-easy teenager years; of growing up as an overweight, introverted kid and how his mother (Hiroo Johar) was his bulwark through it all. We wonder if there was any one instance during the troubled period, which might have been serious then but funny today, and he says, “There was no instance as such, inasmuch as, when I was growing up, I had many issues to deal with.” Recalling it all, Karan reveals, “I had problems with my weight and other children would make fun of me. I had asthma which meant I couldn’t play sports. So, I took it all to my heart so much that I became  depressed and introverted. I was extremely shy to the extent of madness where I wouldn’t step out of my house!” “My mother would force me to go out which is quite the opposite scene for most parents of teenagers,” he jests.

While he looks back at it all with a sense of self-effacing humour today, Karan credits his parents with helping him overcome the ‘dark period’ if one may call it that. “I turned to my parents for help,” he says before sharing that one piece of advice his mother gave him that was life changing. “My mother told me: no matter what you do, don’t be mediocre.” And by his own admission, the advice has stuck with him. “So, whether it is a film I am making or an interview I am giving, I ensure I give it my all.” It’s also the advice he proffers to the youngsters who work with him today — that irrespective of whether you do something path breaking or not, never do anything average.

Best friends forever
All that talk gets us to wonder if he tries to be the perfect son to the perfect mother he has. Pat comes the reply, “I don’t and that’s because I believe there shouldn’t be competition in a relationship.” He, however, gets articulate describing the relationship he shares with her today. “I share a casual-formal relationship with my mother. I can literally lie down on her lap and gossip with her just as I can sit at a table and have a serious talk about work.” Opening up a bit more about the relationship, he shares, “My mother’s actually my 4am friend. So, even if I am in New York, I can call her to share the nothings of my life, like the fact that I got a chocolate craving that day. I share simple stuff like that.” “I really believe that you know you are really close to a person when you can share the nothings of your life with them,” he notes warmly.

For the single child he is, Karan admits that he misses having siblings. That probably  might be the reason behind the close ties he shares with friends including Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol. So, are his friends surrogate siblings? “I do have friends who’ve replicated family,” he admits before quipping, “they say blood is thicker than water but I don’t believe it, because, as I like to say, you never know with blood but you sure can’t live without water!” “My friends have been my support system,” he says before wrapping the interview on a perfect note — “I believe that having a healthy relationship is a 2-way process. You have to invest in it.  And just like you nurture a plant, every relationship needs time and care.”

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