A Love Letter To Karan Johar – The Man Who Taught Us ‘Pyaar Dosti Hai’

The words were Rahul’s, the definition was yours. The charm was Tina’s, the attitude was yours. The tears were Anjali’s, the heartache was yours. If it wasn’t for you, Karan Johar – I don’t know what perception of love, an entire generation of teenagers would have had. 

I was in class four when Kuch Kuch Hota Hai released. All of eight, the only thing I was excited about the most was that little Anjali was also turning eight in the film. That, however, did not stop me from dragging my mother to the salon, only to get the ‘Anjali-cut’, or even adding four new dungarees to my wardrobe.

All the colours, jargon, swag – you gave birth to not just new-age cinema in Bollywood, but created magic, on screen. Magic that can still light up my face, even on the most stressful days. With a big tub of ice cream, of course. After all, I found three new friends in Rahul, Anjali and Tina, just like you eventually did in Shah Rukh, Kajol and Rani.

Moving on, I couldn’t think of anyone else who could have made living in the lanes of Chandni Chowk seem as glamourous and exciting as owning a palace with a helipad, not to mention, with a fancy last name such as ‘Raichand’. Honestly, there were moments I couldn’t decide where I’d rather live. You made me dream in Dharma colours.

Then came Kal Ho Naa Ho, which you may not have directed, but the ‘K’ quotient remained intact. There was a Naina, who made all the girls in my class switch to thick glasses, whether or not they needed ’em. There was a Rohit, who took your idea of ‘pyaar dosti hai’ to a whole new level, and there was an Aman, who gave an adolescent me, my first lesson in acceptance. Considering I had my first heartbreak right before the film released.

To be honest, Karan – for a teenager who grew up on your idealistic love stories, it was a bit hard to fathom two people with perfectly loving partners committing infidelity in Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna. Especially because these people were the Rahul and Tina I had once worshipped. Upon watching it once again, after growing up a little bit, however, I did understand my problem with it. This film of yours wasn’t dreamy. It had, in fact, brought your audience face to face with the demons within.

You had evolved as a filmmaker. Matured all of a sudden. You followed the road less taken and began experimenting more. You directed less, produced more. Dostana, Student Of The Year, Ye Jawaani Hai Deewani, 2 States – all fun films, but I was really missing an authentic KJo plot. There was, of course, My Name Is Khan in the middle – a beautiful story, over the top, but not conventional.

You did make up for the few years in between when you gave us Alizeh and Ayan. You made a broken heart appear cool and ‘messed up’ feel normal. And with this film, you offered some new dysfunctional stuff one could relate to.

And as I await another dreamy, colourful, young and fun directorial from you, I just want to thank you for making life seem like a movie. There may be a handful of Dharma actresses in your fraternity, but you gave the world numerous Dharma heroines, including yours truly.