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‘A script should deserve Shah Rukh Khan’

‘If Shah Rukh and I come together again, we have to go beyond Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Kal Ho Naa Ho, Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna and My Name Is Khan.’
‘I haven’t come across a script that hits those high notes.’

It’s been 25 years since we fell in love with Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.

Karan Johar, who made his directorial debut with the blockbuster, goes back in time to discuss the film with Subhash K Jha, and reveals, “If Kuch Kuch Hota Hai had failed, my family would have been in a huge financial crisis.”

What, according to you, accounts for the enduring magic of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (KKHH)?

I think it came from a place of purity and innocence.

There was some performing stress, of course. I knew my father had a string of failures before KKHH.

There was that stress that I didn’t want to be a burden on my father’s monetary situation.

He had taken a loan to make my film.

His Duplicate had failed right before KKHH and there were distributors who backed out at the last minute.

Thankfully, Yash Raj films took on the all-India distribution and saved us.

Sounds bad.

It was a tumultuous time for my family. That is when it hit me that life is not a garden of roses.

I could see the stress on my father’s face although he tried hard to hide it.

If KKHH had failed, my family would have been in a huge financial crisis.

Did you have a tough time convincing Shah Rukh to sign KKHH after the failure of your father’s Duplicate?

No, he was already on board. Duplicate released just five months before KKHH.

Shah Rukh and Kajol were your first choices?

My only choices.

Didn’t Kajol offer to move out of Anjali’s role and into the other heroine Tina’s role when you were not getting the actress to do the second heroine?

It was very funny but when Kajol heard Tina’s death scene, she said, ‘I want to do this.’

I told her to stick to Anjali.

The idea of a mother writing letters to her unborn child. How did that come to you?

I have no idea. I felt Tina’s role was supremely important.

But I think Shah Rukh and Kajol’s roles were so heavily imprinted on everyone’s mind they couldn’t see how important the third character was.

They were all apprehensive about making their place in a film with Kajol and Shah Rukh, who had created history in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge.

Do you see a DDLJ influence in your film?

I see a Yash Chopra influence. Kuch Kuch Hota Hai was influenced by Yash Uncle’s Kabhi Kabhie and Chandni.

The climax of KKHH was heavily influenced by Chandni.

Pam Aunty (Pamela Chopra) contributed so much to KKHH.

She gave me the folk tune Sajan Ji Ghar Aaye. During the song recordings, I used to turn to Pam Aunty a lot. She had an amazing music sense.

I used to run all my ideas through her and Yash Uncle and my parents.

I felt I had two sets of parents and Aditya Chopra looking after me.

Shah Rukh is also the elder brother you never had.

It has always been like that.

It was never a friendship.

He was always a protective elder brother.

I was always his wife Gauri’s friend. He was always the elder brother.

Why haven’t you done a film with Shah Rukh since My Name Is Khan in 2010?

Yes, it has been 13 years since we worked together.

We did work together once after that on Dear Zindagi, where we were co-producers. That was Gauri Shinde’s baby all the way.

I do immensely desire to work with him again.

I think we created a very high bar when we did My Name Is Khan. I never found a story thereafter that could justify his presence, his mega-stardom.

If we come together again, we have to go beyond Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Kal Ho Naa Ho, Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna and My Name Is Khan.

I haven’t come across a script that hits those high notes.

A script should deserve Shah Rukh Khan.

I don’t think the scripts he has filmed after My Name Is Khan without you have gone beyond My Name Is Khan.

It’s fine. He is a mega-star. He is no longer the King. He is the Emperor.

So the question again. Why are you not working with the Emperor?

How do you know I am not?

Who knows what my future holds with him?

Anything is possible.

I hope and pray that the day comes very soon where I can call, ‘Action’ for the Emperor.

Are you hinting at a film with SRK?

I am not hinting at anything.

Right now, I’ve taken a year off to plan the content at Dharma Productions.

Finally, how do you see your journey from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai to Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani?

Lots of self-awareness and hopefully, some growth and evolution.

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