When you have a sense of low self-esteem, and when you achieve success, there’s relief more than arrogance. – Karan Johar
I gave Karan Johar – An Unsuitable Boy a 5-star rating and honestly, I was surprised at myself. I have never been a fan of Karan Johar brand of movies, and have found them pretentious to the core. And the man behind such pretentiousness in the name of cinema too came to be regarded as frivolous and shallow. But this autobiography was so candid and honest (provided it was all real honesty and not put-on stuff, you never know with the showbiz people) that I pulled an all-nighter to complete it in one sitting.
It was surprising that someone who comes across as so la-di-da in their public life could be emotionally intense in their private life and bare their insecurities with such honesty. The book gives a very different perspective of the man, compared to the impression of him one has from the various media platforms he shows up on.
Why the hell are you not realizing that you were born to be in the movies? You’re overdramatic, you’re melodramatic, you’re funny. The only thing you don’t have is an interval because you have this non-stop mad energy. You’re meant for the movies. – Aditya Chopra
Karan Johar is synonymous with success, panache, quick wit, and outspokenness, which sometimes inadvertently creates controversy and makes headlines. KJo, as he is popularly called, has been a much-loved Bollywood film director, producer, actor, and discoverer of new talent. With his flagship Dharma Productions, he has constantly challenged the norms, written and rewritten rules, and set trends. But who is the man behind the icon that we all know?
Baring all for the first time in his autobiography, An Unsuitable Boy, KJo reminisces about his childhood, the influence of his Sindhi mother and Punjabi father, obsession with Bollywood, foray into films, friendships with Aditya Chopra, SRK and Kajol, his love life, the AIB Roast, and much more.
This book is both the story of the life of an exceptional filmmaker at the peak of his powers and of an equally extraordinary human being who shows you how to survive and succeed in life.
My two cents:
Karan Johar – An Unsuitable Boy, is divided into 15 chapters, with unpretentious titles, that give the reader a sneak peek into Karan Johar’s life – from ‘Childhood’ though his ‘First Break’ and ‘Early film-making Years’ to ‘Midlife Angst’ and his finally his take on ‘Bollywood Today’.
Co-authored with journalist Poonam Saxena, the book is candid and earnest in tone and more often than not, this earnestness is baffling, for it takes a lot of courage to talk about your own personal life with this kind of openness. The book opens with Johar’s take on his film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil where he shares how the film was the manifestation of his own unrequited love story. He also talks about his depression and how he had to seek psychiatric help to get over his heartache. And this is just the prologue – giving the readers an idea about what to expect ahead.
In the subsequent chapters, Johar talks about his family, his films, his showbiz career, and also opens about his many insecurities and failings. The frankness with which he writes about his feeling of loneliness as a child, his longing for a sibling, his complexes about being overweight and effeminate is heart-warming and took me by surprise. His forthrightness about his weight issues, his struggle with depression and his complexes is quite endearing and there are chapters where I am mentally reading it all in his voice.
He talks about his childhood friends and friends from the film industry, his film career, and his infamous fallout with Kajol, and of course, there is a chapter on Shahrukh Khan as well – where Johar tries to give his side of views on conjectures about his relationship with SRK. Then there’s another chapter – Love and Sex – that deals with his take on the subject and it’s pretty cool how Johar is pretty upfront here too, commenting on conjectures about his sexuality.
Overall, I enjoyed reading An Unsuitable Boy for its honesty and emotional quotient. There are so many thoughts and emotions in here that are just so relatable, particularly the emotional crisis part and Gemini paradoxes on love and commitment and the need for independence and personal space.
The book wraps up with Karan musing over the possibility of having a child (by surrogacy) as his old-age insurance and an emotional investment, which we now know has, become a reality and he is now a father to a pair of twins. Karan Johar fan or not, pick it up and chances are you will find it your money’s worth.
More about the book:
Author: Karan Johar with Poonam Saxena
Price: Rs. 329
GiniSpeaks Ratings: 5/5
Note: Both the book and the views are my own.