News Round-Up: Kangana Versus Karan, the World Versus Karan

Huh. Interesting collection of stories for my usual Monday post. More beating up on Karan than I would have expected.

The World Versus Karan

This is an interesting one. For Karan’s birthday, one of his friends, a Nepali designer based in New York, Prabal Gurung, posted a photo of them embracing with a cheeky caption “Pyaar kiya to darna kya” (why fear when you love). The Indian media jumped on this and interpreted it as a romantic relationship.

Prabal clarified in a really interesting way. Rather than saying “ewww, no, Karan’s yucky” he flipped it around and asked why the media could not conceive of two men loving each other non-romantically? He also said that he does love Karan, as a mentor and a friend and a support in his life, but has been in a relationship for 5 years with a different man.

What really jumped out at me from this is the description of his relationship with Karan. “Karan is someone I deeply admire and respect. Not only has he been there for me, he has been there for my family as well. I admire his wit, his compassion, and his empathy for this world”.

Prabul is not some lightweight. I scrolled through his twitter feed and found that he mostly reposted serious articles on issues related LGBTQ rights, op-eds from the New York Times, and articles about being Asian in America. And he is quietly successful and respected in his field, a graduate of Parson’s school (best fashion design school in America), rose steadily at Bill Blass before branching out and starting his own label, now clothing people like Michelle Obama and the Duchess of Cambridge.

Karan is perceived in India as the stereotype of the “sissy” gay man, and the bitter gay man, the one whose unfulfilled desires lead him to try to control everyone around him. Certainly that is the picture of him painted in the media, pushy and controlling and “bitchy”. Something slightly less than a full human, defined by his sexuality. And maybe that’s how he feels about himself when he is in India, maybe that’s how he acts because he thinks that is how people expect him to act.

But the relationship described here is very different. Empathy, compassion, being there for his friends and their families. Someone you respect, someone with dignity. And this is coming from someone with a curious mind and a broad range of interests, someone who has excelled at his own artistic field. Which means Karan also has a broad range of interests, can probably talk intelligently about international gay rights issues, the changing face of social media, and everything else that Prabul is interested in.

I am sad that when the media and the Indian public looked at a photo of them together, they immediately leaped to assuming these two men would only be together romantically. There is an underlying assumption that Karan can only offer people sex, or favors. That no one would be simply a friend to him, that he has no depth to offer, nothing on the inside. It makes me sad for Karan, but also for gay men in general, that somehow it is assumed not being able to romantically love a woman means you are not able to build a real connection with any person.

Kangana Shoots at Karan Again

Speaking of homophobia and potshots, there is Kangana’s latest insults to Karan. This time, she is claiming that he tells he controls the stars at Dharma, including telling them who to date. Jumping off of a post from another twitter troll, KRK, which claimed that Karan fired Ishaan Khattar from Dharma for speaking disrespectfully to him.

There is a narrative Kangana has been building for years around Karan. That being, he is a sour unhappy man who lashes out and hurts others because of his own unhappiness. He stops her from getting movie roles by saying bad things to Aditya Chopra, he makes fun of how she can’t speak English because he is insecure. He only works with people who are part of his “in crowd” and keeps the others out. And now, he controls the love lives and sexual affairs of those he controls for his own amusement.

Kangana isn’t building up this story in a vacuum. It works because people like it. There is a small grain of truth at the center, but I believe that truth is more what Prabul describes, Karan as an empathetic and witty and kind man to all his friends. He loves people and cares for them and wants to help them succeed. And he has the sincere respect of a lot of people in the industry. When Aditya Chopra asks his opinion on who to cast in a movie, he is asking a fellow master of filmmaking, and one of his oldest friends. When someone comes up to Karan and begs for a chance, they are asking because he is known to be compassionate and supportive and open to giving opportunities. But somehow “respect in the industry” has been twisted to be “influence and power” and “willingness to go the extra mile to help those who deserve help” has been twisted to be “only gives chances to people he likes”.

Image result for rajamouli karan
Karan reached out to Rajamouli and asked for the Hindi rights of Bahubali. I don’t think he is controlling Rajamouli’s dating life or doing anything else evil to him, I think he sincerely respects him as an artist and wanted to help his movie get a bigger audience.

In the same way a loving birthday message between two friends was twisted to be a sign of a romantic relationship, everything Karan does gets twisted and tainted. If, for instance, he gives advice to a young person who comes to him with their dating woes, now it is turned into an accusation that the Dharma stars are only allowed to date people he approves of for them. And if Ishaan Khattar spoke disrespectfully to him, why exactly should Karan NOT have fired him? Ishaan isn’t that famous and isn’t that talented, Karan has a perfect right to not work with someone who is disrespectful to him. That isn’t being petty and mean, that is being human. And I don’t think I am being naive or idealistic to think like this, I think I am just being human and trying to treat everyone else (including celebrities) as humans.

Oh, and there was also an series of quotes from Salman about Priyanka which I was going to write about and then realized that there isn’t really anything new to say. As before, Salman has the choice of saying nothing and implying there is something wrong with his movie/Katrina, or saying something and implying there is something wrong with Priyanka and nothing wrong with his movie or Katrina. Here is the story if you are interested: https://www.bollywoodhungama.com/news/bollywood/bharat-salman-khan-reveals-priyanka-chopras-last-minute-exit-film-embarassing/

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39 thoughts on “News Round-Up: Kangana Versus Karan, the World Versus Karan

  1. “Empathy, compassion, being there for his friends and their families.’–this is what Shah Rukh says about him and as we all know he doesn’t love or trust easily. I hope all this hate that Kangana spews is going to finally come back and bite her.

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    • Yeah, looked at it from one side Karan is generally feared and obeyed in the industry, from the other side he is generally loved by all because of his good qualities. It just depends on how you look at it. Aditya Chopra doesn’t love easily either, and he loves Karan. And respects him. Which has somehow been turned into Karan trying to use his influence to sabotage young artists.

      On Mon, May 27, 2019 at 10:01 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • There is Karan the professionel and Karan the privat man…I’m happy for him that he has a bunch of persons who know (and appreciate) the person he is when he’s not in the public eye.
        What I watched during the years, I feel that I don’t like the professionel person anymore…

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        • No, they aren’t. I was under that same impression, but I read Karan’s autobiography and it is 100% not true. Aditya respects Karan because he recognizes his talent. Karan wrote half of DDLJ (which Aditya acknowledges). That’s why they are friends.

          On Tue, May 28, 2019 at 8:52 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Nope, I don’t know how that rumor started, but it isn’t true. Karan has no relatives in the film industry. Or anywhere else really, he was a lonely little boy with no family his age.

            On Wed, May 29, 2019 at 1:23 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Adi and Karan are first cousins. Hiroo Johar (maiden name Chopra) is Yash Chopra’s sister. Yash is Adi’s father. Does Karan state in his autobiography that he isn’t related to Adi?

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          • He describes his childhood, not having any relatives his age, and then meeting Aditya as a young man and becoming friends with him. They certainly aren’t related. I don’t know how that rumor started, but that’s all it is, a rumor.

            From the other side, Yash Chopra lost his family in Partition. His only relative in Bombay was his much older brother BR Chopra who has his own film studio. His family is famous and well documented, there is no chance of a sister folks don’t know about.

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      • I think as you have often said that the fact that Karan has encouraged as many if not more unknown actors, directors, producers than he has “star kids”. Somehow the Kangana narrative has ‘won’ as many incorrect narratives do.

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    • I know you are all srk fans but how can you assume that because SRK supposedly feels all that about KJo, that’s how he is to everyone else? Kangana’s going bonkers, but Karan is known to mock people. Heck, he even mocked Anushka and Ranveer when he first saw them. And he is the one who made up the whole Ranbir Alia romance as PR for Brahmastra.
      So just because SRK calls him so and so, doesn’t mean he is, right?

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      • Forget the SRK part of it, just think of that as one example of a long term relationship that is more than just show. There are many others. For example, you mention Anushka and Ranveer, he later cast Anushka in a movie he himself directed, so he isn’t that prejudiced. He has long term respectful friendships with all the movers and shakers in the industry, not just for show friendships on Koffee and at parties, but friendships that lead to artistic collaborations. Anurag Kashyap, Aditya Chopra, Farhan Akhtar, Zoya Akhtar, Rajamouli, they all respect him and are eager to work with him.

        On Tue, May 28, 2019 at 8:51 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • But he IS a shallow man, Margaret. I agree he has loyal relationships with a lot of people in the industry but that doesn’t give him the right to mock others, right? And Kangana has been mocked on KWK way before she even became huge and started ranting. So she obviously would call him out.

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      • That’s true. I am not saying that Kjo is so perfect. Only that Shah Rukh likes very few people. But as Margaret says at the beginning of her history of posts that she knows none of these people personally. I don’t either so its all conjecture. All of them could be way better, way worse or very different than they say they are.

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    • I wrote the title before the post and then decided to cut that bit. the updated title doesn’t have it, but I’ll just add a thing that links to the story.

      On Mon, May 27, 2019 at 10:03 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Salman is catching a lot of flak for this and being called a misogynist and many other things. He should have just ignored Priyanka and informed reporters ahead of time not to ask questions about her. Now he’s setting himself up for problems in case this movie flops. People will take a lot of joy from it, especially PC fans, if it happens.

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        • It’s very dumb for him to keep sniping at her, especially now when her profile is particularly high with her marriage, her husband’s hit song, her new project with Mindy Kaling, etc. Salman comes across as petty while Priyanka gets PR that ultimately benefits her in the end. It’s also extremely disrespectful to Katrina.

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          • Following the “Best revenge is living well” theory, I was just hoping that Katrina’s role and performance would be so amazing that everyone would forget PC. But that won’t work unless Salman SHUTS UP.

            On Mon, May 27, 2019 at 8:03 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • PC is a tabloid celebrity who does daily pap walks. Nothing concrete has happened for her in her career. Her fans can spread hate on social media for Salman but it doesn’t mean anything if people end up liking Bharat on the ground level.
            If it’s a flop, her fans will troll him but that will be small compared to the career obituaries everyone else will write. She is not relevant at the end of the day. Salman will have much bigger problems to deal with if Bharat flops.

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        • Not a single journo brought up Priyanka. It was Salman who kept saying “Thank you Priyanka, some people would leave their husbands for such a film, but Priyanka got married”. And I saw the interview so no one is making it up. C’mon guys, Salman is a prick.

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  2. Karan is various shades of gray just like all of us. He isn’t the evil of the industry like Kangana wants to project but he isn’t all good and kind either to people outside his circle. He is intelligent and hard working but he is also catty and meddles a lot in other people’s relationships. He wouldn’t be so happy to have a show like Koffee with Karan otherwise. There are good and bad ways to take everything – one person’s gossip is another person’s ‘checking up on friends and being interested in their lives.’ He is also the hand behind a lot of BW relationships and depending on your viewpoint, it can be seen positively or negatively. For some, it might be that he hooks up couples for publicity and hype. For others, maybe Karan just knows these people well and thinks they might find happiness together. (He helped get Kareena/Saif and Abhishek/Ash together)

    I don’t blame the media for what they assumed about Prabhal and Karan. The post made it seem like they were coming out officially. That caption cannot be interpreted in too many different ways – “why fear if you’ve fallen in love.” It was wrong on Prabhal’s part because it really did seem like he was trying to push Karan out of the closet when he didn’t want that. If you check the comments, Karan reacted almost instantly and wrote “control yourself, bhaiya” and called him a brother to ward off any possible speculation. It can only be that Karan was upset about what would be written, which is why Prabhal offered up a long explanation with another post.

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    • There was a really interesting article I read a while back, I need to see if I can find the link, from a young gay man questioning why Karan doesn’t fully come out, why he keeps doing this pseudo thing and playing into stereotypes. What I found most interesting about it is that the man is a friend of Karan’s and respects him, and even got his okay before publishing. Karan is making a choice to play his public life this way, and it is a choice that people around him disagree with and he still does it. I wonder if this is a similar moment, Prabal wants him to come out but also respects and loves him enough to put up this statement explaining the original post.

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      • His mother is still alive and maybe she’s accepted in a theoretical way that her son is gay and isn’t going to be getting married or bringing home a wife. However, accepting it in practicality is a different thing. She might not be ready to meet the boyfriends or have them living together. It’s even more difficult in Indian society because the elder parents continue to live with the children and Karan needs her there to help care for the children. Nor would he ever abandon her anyway. Setting down with a man is not practically possible for him.

        I saw an interview with him recently and he claims he’s never had a relationship and doesn’t care. Seems to me that he’s aiming to be the acceptable gay man amongst the traditional Indian society. As long he’s not really living the lifestyle and is seen as a safe sexless man, people wouldn’t feel threatened or upset by him.

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        • His memoir was very clear about his romantic history and how he was with love and sex, and it sounds like he is someone who wants and needs that passionate overwhelming love and commitment, not just sex. And with the way his life is, and India is, he can’t have that love and commitment and so he doesn’t care about losing the sex and the lessor kind of relationships. He admitted to having tried paying for sex and finding it an empty and sad experience. And that he had been in unrequited love a few times and it took years to get over it. I think he wants what his characters have in his movies, the big wedding and the perfect love story and all the rest of it. But he can’t have that, so he settles for nothing. And gains the benefit of social acceptance instead. I think if Karan ever found real true love like he dreams of, he would be open and brave and proud about it. But I also think the kind of real true love he has built up in his mind may not exist.

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  3. All these KJo stories make me very sad…there is too much information about his personal life in the media…between what he reveals from his book, Instagram, interviews, and show…to what people extrapolate…to the blatant lies and rumors the trolls spread (aka Kangana)…he has no control anymore over his personal image….that compounded with Dharma’s difficult year of flops, delayed films, and storage fires…he must be going through a very difficult time…
    I really wish he takes your advice and steps away from the limelight…give people a break…give yourself a break…

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    • He should join Shahrukh in his little vacation from publicity. They can hang out together being not on twitter, traveling for no reason, not announcing projects.

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  4. I don’t think Salman saying nothing implies there is something wrong with Katrina. He is going out of his way to drag Priyanka into his interviews. What Priyanka did was unprofessional, but really talking about it in this way is disrespectful to Katrina as well as she’s sitting right there. Why not say “We’re happy Katrina is on board an move on”. Salman can’t just digest the fact that someone actually had the guts to say no to his movie in the nth minute. Oh the entitlement that Indian men have. Good, he’s finally getting some flack for it. Btw, didn’t Katrina also leave Street Dancer a little while before filming was scheduled?

    And Prabhal Gurung completely brought it on himself – if you write something like “Pyaar kIya to darna kya” what else are people going to think? It was so unnecessary. just Celebrities love victimizing themselves.

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    • I mostly agree, but two things. PC leaving Bharat truly is unprecedented. No one has left a film last minute like that except Abhishek and the Dutta movie, which was a story that lasted months because it was SUCH a big deal, and maybe Madhubala when she tried to get out of the movie with Dilip after they broke up.

      And with Prabhal Gurung, I don’t know if the photo and what he wrote is necessarily asking for it. I haven’t posted these things on instagram, but I’ve totally given friends sappy notes as an inside joke and not thought twice about it. To me, the photo and what he wrote just sound like two friends. That’s my American perspective, but then Prabhal has lived in America for almost 20 years, maybe he forgot how things could be taken in India?

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      • It might be unprecedented but Salman is being disrespectful to Katina even more than Priyanka, because you can see Katrina literally squirming in her seat. And saying things like “People leave their husbands for movies, here she left Bharat for her husband” is just rude and offensive.

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  5. It’s pretty lame that Salman keeps talking about Priyanka. I mean why doesn’t he just talk about the actual actress of the film. Mentioning that Priyanka walked out once is fine but he keeps doing it. He sounds entitled and like he just can’t get over it. I’ve never heard of an actor talking about another actor (who walked out of the productions) during promotions. You would think he would have some pride and just present the film in the best way possible.

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    • He’s setting himself up for trouble. If Bharat flops, he’s going to get roasted after how much he’s passive aggressively attacked Priyanka. She was wrong but it does not help him at all to behave this way. He just can’t control himself.

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    • Exactly, Karan has tricked us all into thinking of him as the silly shallow jester. But if you look at his credentials, the circles he travels in, the people who treat him with respect and love, he is not a jester at all. It’s not just that Prabhal is his friend, he calls him his mentor, and someone he respects.

      On Mon, May 27, 2019 at 8:07 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • From what I’ve heard, Prabhal used to work under Manish Malhotra at one point so he has known these people for a long time.

      For most Indian people, BW would anyway be much more important and significant no matter how much success they find elsewhere. Prabhal is very connected to his desi identity. Even at the Met Gala, he was singing old Hindi songs and put it on his instagram account.

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  6. I think Prabhal posted that pic and comment because he either forgot or didn’t really know how Indian society works and how Karan has navigated it. It would be most perfectly acceptable in the US, especially in the fashion circles he travels in. I have always thought that Karan first made his choice to stay semi closeted because it was a CRIME in India to be gay; remember that. And subsequently, I do think it’s about his mother. She can hear about his exploits in NYC (I’ve always thought he has someone here) but she can’t manage a marriage or a man living with Karan in the house. Having the twins I think has gone a long way to fill in some of the gaps he thought he’d never fill. I was at the naming the baby girl of a gay couple; one of her father’s stood up and said,”All my life I assumed I’d never marry and never have children and now I have both.” He went on to talk about his journey and there was NOT a dry eye. I always think of that speech when Karan talks or writes about his kids.
    And not to be overly Shah Rukh focused but remember he was the one who openly said that being gay was fine and probable. When asked what would he do if he woke up as Karan, he said, “Its more likely I’ll wake up next to him than as him.” The Shah Rukh is gay has followed him around ever after and he is very clear he does not care.

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    • That was my feeling as well. That Prabhal just wasn’t thinking. He is from Nepal, and lived in India, but that was all years and years ago. If he and Karan are close New York friends, then it is a whole different world in New York. Especially in fashion and art (not saying Prabhal would have posted the same thing if they were living in a small town in Ohio, you know?). It’s a nice picture of two friends, and a cheeky quote from a favorite movie. And the tone of Prabhal’s clarification read, to me, like “I really did not think I would have to write this”.

      On Tue, May 28, 2019 at 4:07 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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