Karan Johar, not 'an unsuitable boy': Your life story makes you relatable, you are one of us

Harish Iyer

Jan,21 2017 10:28:12 IST

Dear Karan Johar,

I have never been a pessimist. I've always made lemonade with the lemons that life offered. Yet, I relate to you, this guy who — unlike me — doesn’t spell out his sexuality. The empath in me relates to every word written in your biography, and all I want to do is hug you, hold you to my chest, and sleep.

I must confess, I was pleasantly surprised to realise that your mushy-mushy films, are an extension of who you really are. I am not much of a book reader — your autobiography An Unsuitable Boy is barely the third I've read cover to cover. But I can tell you that it gave me a slice-of-life perspective of the person beyond the media-created persona. You are indeed very human, believable and most importantly, extremely loveable. I love you, Karan.

The passage where you speak about being called 'pansy' is most relatable. I have been called girly too and so have many effeminate men — gay, bi and straight. I broke down when your team lost the debate because someone’s nasty comment on your effeminacy affected you that badly. But then, I think of what you are today, and that pity turns to pride as I realise that you embrace every bit of your ‘pansy’ mannerisms. Your transition from then to here, is admirable. You give hope to people by sharing your life candidly. I love you for that, Karan.

Karan Johar's autobiography 'An Unsuitable Boy' is published by Penguin Books India. Image courtesy Facebook

Karan Johar's autobiography 'An Unsuitable Boy' is published by Penguin Books India. Image courtesy Facebook

Oh, and do you know Karan, I am a fan of Sridevi too! Most gay men are. Many gay men are fans of Madhuri as well, and the debate of Sridevi versus Madhuri is legendary. I have danced to 'Main Teri Dushman' and 'Hawa Hawai' many-a-times inside my locked bedroom. I have stared at myself in the mirror and enjoyed imitating Sridevi's expressions, and failed. The only wish I had in life was to meet her. My Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak crush Aamir Khan and his team fulfilled that wish for me. Thank you for bringing those memories back, Karan.

Karan, I agree with Ayan Mukerji when he tells you that he had not seen a representation of homosexuality in Hindi films before Kal Ho Na Ho (KHNH). We never had the idea of ‘gays’ being spelt out so well before. Homosexuality suddenly found a presence in Bollywood's cinematic lexicon, when two male actors being seen/mistaken so candidly as gay, were busted by their house-help (Kantaben). Thanks for writing this script, Karan. I would divide Bollywood into two halves — Before Kantaben and After Kantaben. This was long before ‘bromance’ as a concept was introduced, where best friends were not just best friends anymore. You broke the myth of ‘bhai-type-love’, albeit jovially. Thank you for giving us Kantaben, who held a mirror to the changing face of society that let us know that ‘ek ladka aur ladka kabhi dost nahi ho sakte’. Your book fails to mention that KHNH came a couple of years before My Brother Nikhil — a film about HIV and homosexuality — for which you lent your voice. I remember, vividly, in the teaser promo you ‘come out’ in support of a gay man with a statement, ‘I care for my brother Nikhil, do you?'. Thank you, Karan.

Karan Johar's 'An Unsuitable Boy' review: Like his films, this book delivers solid, emotional storytelling

Karan, I relate to you again, when on page 174, you say that you accept yourself unapologetically and are sad about all the trolling. I have been subject to the same. Well, not 3,000 (hate messages) in a week, but may be one-tenth of that. I agree when you say, “If you have an opinion about my sexuality, then screw you. I don’t care. My life is my life and I have to think ahead about what I have to do.” It took me a lot of time to reach this space. I was cynical, easily offended and quickly irritable. Today, the world outside has changed me from the inside. I am cold and uncaring about people’s insinuations. But yes, I want you to know that one can’t go to jail because one is gay. Having said that, I understand that our country obsesses with you more than anyone. Your films are publicity bombs that everyone wants their hands on — including a certain Raj Thackeray. Thank you for continuing to allow your films and TV shows to do the talking instead.

As I flipped the pages, it broke my heart to read about your broken heart. I am glad that you have never stopped loving people, though I do feel that you have acquired a sense of cynicism. Maybe you love deeply and completely like the characters of your films, and maybe, it is difficult for people to match that kind of supreme love? Or maybe, it is true that you were more in love with the idea of love — a tick mark against an experience — than love itself. Or maybe, you are just being taken advantage of for your vulnerability. Or maybe maybe maybe, you are more complete by yourself today. Thank you for converting your broken heart into art.

I cried, Karan, when you confessed in page 189, that you ensure that the subject of your jokes is always you, so that you don’t end up offending anyone else. I could see the space from where the self-depreciating jokes emerge. In your epilogue, when you mention your wish to have a child, you echo the sentiments of many LGBTIQ people, whose wishes have been crippled by Sushma Swaraj’s speech that’s stopped gay people from opting for surrogacy. When you speak about the old, you address one fear that is looming in my head and I am sure, in the heads of many single gay men who are closer to the 40/50 age bracket — that we will be lonely after the death of our parents and the want of a child to fill that void. Yes, Karan, life scares me too. Death doesn’t.

I wish to meet you Karan. I wish to hug you and tell you that we are in this together, no matter how different and distant our economic and social class is. We are in this together, no matter how much the distance between us. Your life story makes you a relatable person. You are one of us. You are like me, you are like us.

Harish Iyer

P.S. Sorry if this reads like a love letter, Karan. Perhaps it is a love letter. Or perhaps a paean from one lonely heart to another.

Published Date: Jan 21, 2017 10:28 AM | Updated Date: Jan 21, 2017 10:28 AM