Karan Johar and Alia Bhatt are BFFs with so much in common- they’re Bollywood blue bloods, hold their fame lightly, and have made standout careers by smashing stereotypes. Mallika Dua gives us a closer peek at their friendship.
Sometimes it feels as if Karan Johar has his own cinema genie, who turns all his wishes into money-spinning, mass-appealing hits. But it isn’t like that at all. He has everything, and he gives his all, every single day. In the two and a half years I’ve spent on the fringes of this industry, I’ve realised that unlike in other professions, here, the more successful you become, the harder you have to work to keep it. You wake up every day with the fear of the unknown and the fear of becoming unknown. In the course of my conversation with Karan, I learnt that Bollywood’s most powerful producer and star-maker isn’t above these fears either. He does, however, manage to own them—the man is a career case study on success, longevity, leadership and building relationships.
Mallika Dua: Your first film came out in 1998; it’s now 2019. Not only are you still famous, but also hugely relevant and influential. What’s your secret?
Karan Johar: Accessibility, availability and affability. I’m making myself do lots of things that people who take themselves very seriously don’t do. I also have a mother who keeps me grounded. When your basics are strong, you don’t take yourself very seriously.
Sometimes, it takes a it takes a product of nepotism to smash the stereotype to pieces. That’s why I love Alia Bhatt. She gives me hope that everyone will be loved or hated based on their skills and not their DNA, and proves that privilege is just a word or a wasted opportunity, if it’s not accompanied by the kind of talent and hard work she brings to her craft. Alia is not a keyboard warrior, not the biggest fashion icon either, nor a sex symbol or a method actor, or a director’s actor. But she is one of the finest talents of her generation and that’s probably because she never lets herself get caught up with labels. Gen Z has so much hope.
Mallika Dua: In just a couple of years, you’ve gone from an object of ridicule and meme content to one of the most prolific actors of your time. How did that happen?
Alia Bhatt: I find it very tiresome to think about myself. I don’t like to analyse and dissect my journey. I feel very grateful and happy when people call my work prolific, but also find it amusing. I don’t have that kind of lens on myself, not yet.
Photographs courtesy of Tarun Khiwal