‘Shah Rukh’s a possessive friend.’
‘I think I may have hurt him when I made a film without him.’
‘And I think I got hurt because when I did, I felt he didn’t give me that paternal feeling that I had from him otherwise.’
‘I think we were two hurt friends for no reason.’
Karan Johar describes his relationship with Shah Rukh Khan in his memoir, An Unsuitable Boy.
Karan Johar released his autobiography, An Unsuitable Boy in Mumbai recently.
The book launch saw him like you’ve never him before. Please click here to see what we mean.
His memoir gives us some revealing insights into the filmmaker’s life.
It tells us why he ended his relationship with Kajol (it was all thanks to a tweet).
He also writes at length about his relationship with Shah Rukh Khan over the years.
Excerpted from An Unsuitable Boy by Karan Johar with Poonam Saxena, with kind permission from Penguin Random House India under Shobhaa De books.
Shah Rukh came in 1991, and I wasn’t a fan of his at all.
Ironically, I liked him the least. But Apoorva did. I was Team Aamir and he was Team Shah Rukh.
There were girls who were obsessed with Shah Rukh and there were people like me who were mad about Aamir.
I was not a Shah Rukh Khan fan because I thought he overacted. I didn’t like him in Deewana.
And Apoorva used to say: ‘Aamir is so boring, what do you like about him?’
We had these fights about Aamir and Shah Rukh as if they were our relatives and we had to take up cudgels on their behalf. They were very passionate fights.
I had this Parsi friend who told me, ‘Shah Rukh has the cutest ass and an Adam’s apple to die for.’
So when I met Shah Rukh later on the sets of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and gave him Levi’s jeans to wear, I told him that this was what my friend had said about him.
He was shocked. I told him to open the front buttons of his shirt, because my friend had said he had a really nice Adam’s apple.
I also told him that she said he had a really nice ass, but he didn’t highlight it ever. ‘So you should wear tight jeans.’ And he went, ‘Uhh…’
Adi (filmmaker Aditya Chopra), I remember, nearly fell off the sofa because I said all this with a lot of innocence.
Shah Rukh went all red with embarrassment.
But it’s so strange how everything pans out in your life.
One day, they gave me the day off just to take Gauri around because she was the star’s wife.
And it was the best day ever because I entertained her, I regaled her with my stories, I spoke nonsense.
She came back and said, ‘I want to get to know this person. He’s the only person in the industry I’ve met who is so much fun.’
Shah Rukh was so excited that Gauri liked somebody in the business!
So we were just sitting around that day, and he said, ‘You know, Karan, you should direct a film.’
I said, ‘You really think so?’
He said, ‘You’re a film director, you should direct a film. You have a very good instinct for writing. You’re a very good writer. And you’ll be a very good director, because all you need to do for that is to write. And if you make your first film, I will act in it.’
Kajol stepped in at that point and asked, ‘What are you talking about?’
He said, ‘I was telling Karan, that just like Adi, he too should be a director. And that if he does his first film, I’ll act in it.’
Kajol said, ‘Yeah, I too will do it, because it’s Karan.’
Two or three months later, I was still assisting. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge was on the cusp of release.
One day, my father said to me, ‘Shah Rukh has called me to his house. Today.’ He went for the meeting.
Next morning, when I woke up, my father called me and said, ‘Shah Rukh paagal ho gaya hai.’
I asked, ‘Why?’
‘He told me that you should direct the next film that he does. And he says he will start it right after whatever commitments he has.’
I said, ‘Me?’
My father said, ‘He was very serious. “Aapki film mein karunga Dharma Productions ke liye, aur aap ka beta direct karega.” Lekin tune to ek hi film ki hai. Kya seekh ke aya hoga ek film se?‘
I said, ‘I don’t know. Papa, woh aise hi bol raha hoga.’
He said, ‘Nahi, bahut serious tha.’
Then my mother woke up. My father told her about it.
She said ‘What? You, directing a movie? Now? But you’ve just worked on one film till now. What nonsense!’
I said, ‘I don’t know what he’s talking about.’
She said, ‘This is ridiculous.’
Anyway, the Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge premiere happened.
Shah Rukh called me up after the premiere and said, ‘See, it’s October 1995. I’m giving you dates in October 1997. You have two years to write a film.’
I was overwhelmed. I thought, oh my god, Shah Rukh actually wants me to make a movie with him.
A part of me was ready, a part of me pretended to be shocked.
But in my heart of hearts, I think I knew — I can do this.
I had always had a dream that Shammi Kapoor would come out of a car to attend the premiere of my film.
I told my mother, ‘You know, I’m going to see it come true. Shammi Kapoor is going to get out of his Mercedes car and attend this premiere.’
But they had taken me into this room. My mother and father were outside.
My mother was so upset because Shammi Kapoor was going to come and I would not be around to witness the moment.
‘My son’s dream was to see Shammi Kapoor get out of a car and come for his premiere,’ she kept saying. ‘But because of this situation, he has to be cooped up in a room; they’re not allowing him to come out.’
Shah Rukh said, ‘What nonsense!’
He went inside and dragged me out.
He said, ‘I’m standing here in front of you. Let’s see who shoots you. I’m standing right here.’
I said, ‘No, no, no, my mother was…’
He told my mother, ‘Nothing’s gonna happen. I’m a Pathan. Nothing can happen to me and nothing will happen to your son. He’s like my brother. Nothing’s gonna happen.’
So I stood there, and Shammi Kapoor came in a Mercedes just like I had imagined. I had my moment.
I sent him a message to come on Koffee with Karan in the last season, for the New Year episode, to which he didn’t reply.
But he replied to every other message I sent him, about everything else.
Maybe, he didn’t want to come for the show.
I understood he didn’t want to come, and he expected me to understand.
I didn’t ask him after that.
It’s not that I called him and said, ‘Why are you not replying?’
But I called him when there was a problem or a situation I needed his advice on. Or I would go and have a drink with him in his house.
When two people are so close, when they’ve done six feature films together and then haven’t worked together on the set for a while, there’s bound to be a gap. That’s the way the industry is.
The fault is mine because I went on record to say I would never make a film without Shah Rukh Khan.
I should not have said that because I put that seed in his and everybody else’s head.
I don’t blame people for saying things because I went on record and then didn’t live up to my promise.
So it’s my fault. I don’t blame him.
Also, you get attached to somebody, and Shah Rukh is a very possessive person.
He’s a possessive friend. I think I may have hurt him when I made a film without him.
And I think I got hurt because when I did, I felt he didn’t give me that paternal or fraternal feeling that I had from him otherwise.
I think we were two hurt friends for no reason.
I’m kind of back in Shah Rukh’s life in a way.
When the origin of a friendship is so strong, it just cannot die.
I’ve not allowed it to either, and neither has he.
I think Shah Rukh and I come from a very emotionally hypersensitive space.
I think both of us get hurt very easily and then we back off.
And we backed off not because of venom or vindictiveness; there was no fight, it was just an emotional separation.
Then you realise that the emotional separation was for no reason, but emotion.
And that same emotion has to be expressed for you to come right back on track. And that’s what I did.
He was hurt that I didn’t work with him.
I was hurt that with Student of the Year, there was no acknowledgement from him, there was no love or support given to me.
Then it just grew. It was like he thought ‘after everything I’ve done for Karan’ and I thought ‘after everything I’ve done for him.’
We both felt like we had contributed to each other’s lives so tremendously. It was just two people sulking.
Even through these five years, he always knew he could count on me.
Whenever there was any big issue, a health issue with Gauri or something to do with the kids, I was the one he called. ‘Gauri’s not well.’ Or ‘Aryan’s going to school and Gauri’s getting hyper, talk to her.’
It was all happening, but it was not happening with that same affection.
Suddenly, we had become formal with each other.
We were never uncivil towards each other.
We were overly formal and that was the problem.
He was not backslapping me like I wanted him to.
And I was not cracking that odd joke like I would have.
We call each other ‘bhai‘.
It began with me telling him, ‘You should have macho studs walking around you like real gangsters have, but who do you actually have? Me.’
He said, ‘Okay, I’ll call you bhai and you call me bhai too.’
It began as a joke and then it stuck. I call him ‘bhai’ all the time.
From being so close it transformed to: ‘Could you please call me when you have a minute?’
Once, just last year, he got so angry with me.
I called up his manager and said, ‘I really need to meet Shah Rukh.’
He called me and said, ‘When did you start calling my manager?’
I said, ‘Oh, I didn’t want to disturb you.’
He said, ‘Achha?’
And he fell silent. Like that had hurt him more.
I was trying to do the right thing, but I had upset him even more by doing that.
I wanted to say that if I had sent you a message, you might have replied the next day or two days later, it was faster this way.
I think that was the first effort he made which made me say, ‘I’ve missed you.’
With that, he opened the door a little bit.
Yes, I was upset he didn’t come on Koffee with Karan. I was very hurt.
But you get hurt only when you love, so even in that phase, the love was very much there.
You feel pain only when you love.
And there’s a lot of love we have for each other and that love is beyond any kind of rift people might have tried to create, or the circumstances we found ourselves in.