Karan Johar made his first television appearance as a judge in Jhalak Dikhlaa Jaa on Colors. He is all set for his second reality venture on the same channel with India’s Got Talent Season 4. He feels that it is the ace filmmaker’s responsibility to promote young talent. In a candid chat exclusively with Dainik Bhaskar, Karan spills the beans about television, working with Salman Khan and his next film Student Of The Year.
How does it feel to judge yet another reality show on the same channel?
It feels strange as the first season of India’s Got Talent was also offered to me. Siddharth Basu had called me and asked me to judge it. That time I couldn’t do it because I was right in the middle of shooting a film. So, after four years it’s ironic that I’m doing it now. I think I was in loop with the channel with Jhalak Dikhlaa Jaa and I’m very interested in the format. This is something which is very exciting on two different levels, Firstly, it has incredible level of talent coming from all across the country and secondly, I want to do this for my own information. I think I have learnt a lot after judging this show; it’s been a two way thing. I have not only been a judge, as a filmmaker also it gives me the opportunity to judge. I have learnt about not only the incredible talent that the country has, but also the tremendous amount of humane stories which are fascinating and heart-wrenching.
I think in this last month, I have seen everything from an opera singer to a 3-year-old drummer. We also saw some scary acts; singers and dancers from different places; a male Mujra artist and many other fascinating things which have opened up my entire vista. And now my level of information about my country has reached to another level now.
You said that you have realised the reality of the real world, what makes you say that?
As Indian, it’s our moral responsibility to know what is happening in our country but when you meet these people in person, it’s a different dynamic all together. You can understand them at a level which you can’t come to know by reading about them. They are all so disconnected, all of us living in our air-conditioned homes and comforts we don’t know much about the reality in outside world. It’s not the fact that people come from less affording homes or situations, it’s about the passion that you can’t believe, so many millions of people have in this country. I’m moved by seeing the number of passionate people we have in this country. Not just about the fact they are coming here and performing because they need to monetarily but the fact that they bring a certain level of passion that you can’t describe till you experience.
Do you think the most fortunate people take life for granted?
I think the more fortunate people in this country will create a platform for themselves and people who are lesser fortunate depend on destiny to kick it. I’m glad that there are opportunities like this show which gives them a platform to perform. I like their concept where they go all over the country and search talent and give them a platform.
Do you think this platform later help them grow in their career?
We saw a little girl Reshma walking on a rope and balancing herself. Now she is somebody who does this as her daily job and which she has picked up from her family. When they are seen on television, the show gives them a platform that even if they don’t win the show they can leverage this more professionally in their own town. It becomes bigger than what they have been doing before. India is a land of television, everyone loves watching TV, so once a talented person performs on this show, the level goes up. So whether you win it or not you can leverage it in any way. Also, you never know who is noticing you. Like, I was very amazed by a boy who was singing the opera and he was amazing. I don’t know if opera really exists in our country to that level and I’m not sure if he will find. But you never know who will watch and notice him and who will take his life to another level. I think this is what television does; it takes your life to a different level and gives you the exposure which no one else can do for you. And that’s why I feel this show is amazing.
Do you plan to pick up some of the talent for your upcoming film?
Well, there are many acts. For example, there was one act which I saw and thought I have to immediately copy this in my films. It was a beautiful act wherein the people had beautiful chandeliers placed on their heads. It was humongous; they had lovely balance over it. It was superb and spectacular. So I thought before Sanjay Leela Bhansali copies it, I want to.
For the first time you are working with new comers in ‘Student Of The Year’, how difficult was it?
Student Of The Year is the biggest challenge as we are launching newcomers on such a large scale. But I think if people in our position have to judge new talent which I’m doing simultaneously, on one end I’m doing the post production of SOTY and on the other hand, I’m judging talent. I think new talent is the way forward. I’m so glad that Excel Entertainment, Yashraj Films, Balaji Motion pictures all are launching new talent and our industry will have new faces.
Do you think as ace film makers you have the responsibility of promoting new talent, as the industry has always belonged to the Khans and Kapoors?
I think we get stuck in the star zone, which is also great because we love our movie stars. I think people in our position should put their money and resources on new talent, only then you can leverage from it yourself and also contribute to the industry.
How much do you get involved in the production of a film with new comers?
I get involved in everything. I tell them how they have to face the camera to every small thing. It’s actually a complete process. Being a director is not just about making them act. It’s also about how that person appears on the screen. From the beginning, I knew that I had to feel that they are my movie stars and had to make them feel like movie stars.
You are a school in yourself, you groom actors, direct films, produce films. Do you plan to start an acting school?
No, I’m selfish. I will do it only for my company. In the sense, I’m doing it for my company which is also contributing to the industry and I will be happy and proud if all three actors will work with other filmmakers. It’s like you parent them and hope that the world will accept them with open arms. Dharma Productions is now open for new talent.
Student of the Year is a love story based on the background of college life and competition, do you think people can compare it with Kuch Kuch Hota Hai which was a love triangle based in college?
SOTY is not a love story, this is a miscommunication which has come from the poster. The film is about friendship between the two protagonists Rohan and Abhimanu. However, love is the stumbling block in their friendship. It’s about the friendship and competition and not a love story.
Are you going to take the legacy forward and launch more new actors?
I’m very happy to launch new comers. We will make definitely make more movies with more new actors.
Did you ever regret your decision of taking new comers?
No, I never felt that way. I thank myself that I took them. I feel blessed that I had this splashing thought. In fact, the film was initially planned with established stars. But I didn’t want to do that as I thought that this is the opportunity to launch new talent.
We have always seen you working with Shah Rukh Khan. However, Salman is the leading guy in the film industry these days. Are you planning any projects with him?
I will love to work with Salman. I worked with him in the first film and I’m grateful to him that he agreed to be a part of my first film. I think he did that film for my dad and I always will be very grateful from the bottom of my heart. And I want to, in fact who doesn’t want to work with Salman Khan. He is a mega force today, a great actor and Superstar. So, I will feel honored when I’m given the opportunity to work with him.
Do you believe in the 100 crore club?
I think the film’s soul and content should be right, 100 crore box-office will follow. It has to be a great film which works for 100 years which is more important than getting into the 100 crore club.
How satisfying is judging this show?
You fulfill a dream when you judge a show like India’s Got Talent. When you see the smile on their faces, after all the hard work that they have put in, it makes it all worth it. However, it also has a flip side, we have to see a lot of disappointments too.
Did you cry?
You get very moved. Sometimes you really can’t help it as after watching certain things you get very sad especiallywhen you hear their heart warming stories. It’s very depressing but at the same time it is also very elevating. You go through a lot of highs and lows when you judge this show. It’s like a roller coaster ride where you feel triumphant and feel the low sinking. I think that is great about this show and the format because just like the audience you are going through the joy and sorrow ride.
Must have been a joy ride for you because you friend Farah on the show?
She hasn’t started shooting with us yet. She will be doing the Gala round with us. Malaika and Kirron is also there. So while I had a great time with Malaika, I’m looking forward to judge the show with Farah.
The weirdest talent you have come across in the show?
There was a doctor who liked to put injections through his hand because his daughter told that you don’t know how much injections can hurt. He put 12 injections at a time, this was weird.
One talent that you have and is still undiscovered to the world?
I give interviews very well. And, a talent that people don’t know is that I’m a good liar. You will never know when I lie. I have told you a couple of lies today which you haven’t made out (Laughs).
What about Koffee with Karan?
It will be aired June next year.
Any changes in the show?
I try to suggest changes every year but they say everyone one likes it then why you want to change it. The people will be same but everyone has a new lover, a new enemy and new things to talk about. So why change anything, we will change the format a little bit and make some changes in the look. The other things will remain the same, I can’t change the rapid fire, the hamper and the fact that we have a film celebrity guest.