Cherished moments in film-making
Even as success seems all set to visit Karan Johar yet again with the release of the much awaited "Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham", the film-maker narrates to SUBHASH K. JHA the experience of working with a dynamic star cast.
Karan Johar ... the hype for "Kabhi Kushi ... " has made him nervous.
SO YOUNG and so passionate! Just two films old, Karan Johar strikes you as the wrong candidate for celluloid supremacy. But after the resounding success of his trendy "Kuch Kuch Kuch Hota Hai," Karan Johar's new creation "Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham" has become the most talked-about film in recent times. The huge star cast, plus the expectations weighing on the soft-spoken director have made Karan nervous. But he is calm and ready to take on the eager expectations of the waiting audience.
Both Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan say you've gone way beyond "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai" in "Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham... "
Oh God! Lets see what I've done. But if "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai" made you cry then you're going to sob in "Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham" (KKKG). Sections of the film are very moving. Everyone has gone out of his or her way for the film.
When did you start work on KKKG?
Actually, I got the idea for it a month before the release of "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai" when I was working on the background music of the earlier film. Of course the film is quite different from how I had visualised it back then. I threw the idea around with my friend Adi (Aditya Chopra). He thought the story of two daughters-in-law would make the male characters very weak. So we decided to make it the story of two brothers, played by Shah Rukh and Hrithik. I must thank Adi for giving shape to my idea.
The Adi factor seems very strong in your career...
Well it's constant, and I hope he remains a part of my personal and professional world. I hope he feels the same about me. Yes, I was actively involved in Adi's "Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge" and "Mohabbatein."
There's a lot of similarity between your work and Aditya Chopra's ...
I think we both belong to the Yash Chopra school of film-making. Of course we both bring our own vision into it. I'm a hysterical fan of Yashji's cinema "Kabhi Kabhie," "Silsila," "Chandni" ... the works.
How do you relate to such cinema of social consciousness?
Well, I think cinema reflects the state of society. The issues that "Dhool Ka Phool" and "Dharmputra" dealt with have become so acute today that cinema, for me, has now become a vehicle of counter-reality.
But how do you respond to being sneeringly referred to as part of the South Bombay group of film-makers like Sooraj Barjatya and Aditya Chopra?
(Chuckles) I think that comes from our films' glossy look and urban sensibility... I don't think these qualities make our cinema unnatural.
How difficult was it for you to direct superstars of three generations in "Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham"?
You know, and I'm being completely honest, the least problematic factor was the actors. Finding the right actors for the characters and getting them to agree was easy. Shooting with them was easy. When it was over I couldn't believe I had pulled it off. Everyone had a fully bound script. So every actor was familiar with the atmosphere, attitude and tone of every scene. Hrithik knew he was Shah Rukh's younger brother. I wanted his body language to be that of a 20 year-old. I wanted him to be the baby of the family. Shah Rukh is the elder adopted son. I wanted him to be constantly one step behind his screen father all the time. Shah Rukh's body language had to be more relaxed with Kajol and Jayaji. Jayaji had to be quiet and submissive, strong from inside but prompted into speaking her mind only at the end. Kareena and Kajol too knew exactly what to do before coming on the sets.They got into the character much faster than I expected.
Were there lots of rehearsals before the actual shooting?
I couldn't really get them together for rehearsals except for one crucial sequence between Amitji and Hrithik. But everyone was completely comfortable in one another's company. No matter what the media had to say about the Shah Rukh-Hrithik war, Hrithik was like the respectful student and Shah Rukh was like the professor in "Mohabbatein".
Hrithik doesn't seem to have much of a role in your film?
He knew exactly what he was going to do. The role has been shot exactly the way it was narrated to him. In fact if you read my screenplay there's more of him on screen than paper.
How was the equation between Kajol and Kareena?
I was quite worried about it initially. You know how it's with heroines. But Kareena was completely in awe of Kajol. She was always absorbing what Kajol was doing. In fact we had two students Kareena and Hrithik looking up to Kajol and Shah Rukh while Amitji and Jayaji were in a league of their own. It was like having three different class rooms.
How does Rani Mukherjee fit into "Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham?"
She has an interesting cameo. It's a lovely role. She has a lovely song with Amitji and Shah Rukh. I'd have loved to have Rani play one of the leads. But the Kareena character is supposed to be 10 years younger than Kajol. I couldn't have given her the younger sister's role after the two played friends in "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai".
Similarly I couldn't get Rani to play Kajol's role. Then who would've played her sister? Babu Guddu? I explained my problem to Rani. I also told her how much I wanted her to be part of my film. I think she did the film for emotional reasons.
How do you rate "Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham?"
When I saw "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai" I thought I had got 60 per cent of what I had visualised. I feel this time it's 70 per cent. But that doesn't mean I'm any less happy with "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai".
Do you look back fondly on "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai"?
Very much so. But I look back most fondly on "Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge". I always say I have more pleasant memories of "Dilwale... " than any of the two films I've directed.
Of course I carry great memories of my two films.
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