Okay, Raja Sen, on whom I have a HUGE brain crush (see also: Rajinder Dudrah), interviewed Karan for rediff, and you should go there and read the whole thing right NOW NOW NOW. And then come back here so we can talk about it.
First, remember in my post on the Dream Team concert I talked about how Karan has this persona he puts on for public appearances, but it drops away completely when he is talking seriously about his work? Yeah, this interview is one of those serious times. I mean, not like “the fate of the world!!!” serious, but he isn’t turning everything into a joke or a catty remark.
When he says “Normally I make films through observations that I filter through a dramatic, a cinematic palette”, that’s not a joke, that’s a serious observation about his film style. And that’s the tone he keeps through out. A lot more practical and grounded that the interviews he gives as “Celebrity Karan Johar” instead of “leading Director and Producer Karan Johar.”
Once we get into the meat of the interview, I’m interested in the first few references he throws out to films that inspired him as a child, Arth and Saaransh and Pyaasa. He mentions them in the context of films that made him cry, and that he hopes this film will be a little lighter than that. But still, they are the only films he references, so there is some meaning in that, and all 3 are intensely personal films. Arth and Pyaasa are almost biographical to their filmmakers.
(Also, Pyaasa is another love triangle filled with unrequited love)
Which is the theme that runs through this interview, Karan is trying to sell this as a personal film, for both himself as the creator and Ranbir as the actor portraying his vision: “I don’t know where that floodgate of emotion in Ranbir comes from. There’s a pent-up dam and there are little holes through which the emotion leaks out. One day it will burst.”
For Karan, of course, unreciprocated love is his strong suit. It’s what powered Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, way back when. For this, he says “Twice in life, my love hasn’t been reciprocated and I know what it can feel like. So that emotion runs through the film, it’s not a cop out. We stick to the feeling of ‘ek tarfa pyaar’ as suggested by the dialogue at the end of the teaser.”
(and of course I immediately start wondering who the other person was! Obviously, we all know who one of his unreciprocated loves is)
(This and the Gazebo scene, to me, are the emotional peaks of the film. Seeing Kajol struggle with her broken heart and then, ten years later finally have it healed)
And then there are the comments about what this film ISN’T. It isn’t Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, there is no “morality” to the relationships. Thank goodness, because I feel like Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna milked all of the “love triangle mixed in with marital vows” conflict Karan had in him. Anything else would just feel worn out and done to death. So, this will be a love triangle, but between people who are free to give their hearts where they want.
It’s also not in Bombay, which hadn’t occurred to me before, but of course the title comes from this song.
It’s an interesting reference, a Guru Dutt film, but one that doesn’t have his usual bittersweet tone to it. Well, it still does a little bit (I don’t think Guru Dutt could make a 100% happy film, even Mr. and Mrs. 55 has some serious moments), but it is mostly pretty happy. Which matches what Karan is saying about this film, that it will have unrequited love, but it won’t be a dark sobfest.
Oh, and he is also saying that it is NOT Doosra Aadmi. Only, he says that in the context of scotching the infidelity rumors. And yes, a lot of Doosra Aadmi was about the meaning of marriage bonds, but a lot of it was also about what happens when people don’t understand their own hearts and love gets confused with other feelings.
I’m wondering if it will be like Doosra Aadmi in the same way that Jab Tak Hain Jaan was like Daag (remember those rumors?). Or Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna and Silsila. The plot details, including the resolution of the story, are completely different, but the emotions are the same.
At the end of the interview, Karan looks forward, talking about his young ADs and the millennial generation, and how they seem to be embracing heartbreak. Which could be true, certainly there have been a fair number of successful tragic romances recently, sometimes beating out the usual “everything turns out for the best” happy films (Dilwale versus Bajirao, for instance). But he has also looked back, through out the interview, at the whole history of melancholy in Indian film, from Guru Dutt to Mahesh Bhatt.
Which makes me happy, he may say that this is a new kind of filmmaking for him, more in tune with today’s lowkey style, and that he crafted the story for the new generation. But he is also, as always, aware of Indian film history and carrying that into his art.