‘Will just be ridiculed’: Karan Johar on why he avoids discussing his sexuality

‘Dostana’, ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’ and Student of the Year’ are among the Karan Johar movies that saw the queer community finding their space on-screen in Bollywood. Even ‘Bombay Talkies’ has a section directed by Johar where a husband has an affair with his wife’s male intern. Despite being instrumental in bringing homosexuality to mainstream cinema, Johar preferred to avoid discussing his own sexuality.

Speaking to Namrata Zakaria of THE WEEK, Johar opened up about his choices. “I don’t want such a large part of my life to be used as a headline. I think that’s what it will become, just a headline, and then the impact of all that I do will be lost,” he said.

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“I have never hidden who I am. I’d rather do the work on ground level. I believe the impact of what I have done through my cinema, through the things I have said in my book (‘An Unsuitable Boy’, 2017, co-written with journalist Poonam Saxena), has already touched people in a way where they were able to start conversations with their peers and parents. I’ve received so many letters and emails from people telling me they way I have addressed sexuality in my films has helped them address the situation with their parents. I feel the job has started, and it is ongoing. I will continue to push that envelope,” he explained.

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“Me saying anything will just be sensational, it will just be ridiculed and reduced. But cinema is a far more impressionable medium,” he pointed out.

Explaining Dharma’s viewpoint on LGBTQIA+ community, he added, “We deal with sexuality in as dignified a way as possible. We believe in positive messaging and, as a company, we feel passionate about telling the stories that could make you awkward. Right from ‘Geeli Pucchi’ in ‘Ajeeb Dastans’ to Kiara Advani having an orgasm to one of my songs in ‘Lust Stories’, we talk about women’s right to sexual pleasure. We want to push boundaries.”