Karan Johar


This article is an insight on ‘Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani’ and how it delves to the social paradigm of our country.

As I walked out of the theatre feeling that I have been called poor by Karan Johar in 3 languages I couldn’t help but wonder, are over the top popcorn flicks the one stop solution of inducting social cues in the Indian audience.
Beneath Flashy costumes and larger than life setting Rocky and Rani ki prem kahani slips in commentaries on social hierarchies and prejudices . Be it the textbook feminist Rani Chatterjee’s relentless pursuit of a ghoonghat free Randhawa palace, Rocky’s glamour doing a solid uno reverse the overt sexualization of female heroines in Bollywood or the gender no bar kathak performances, the movie does not shy away from inclusion.

One might find the rom-com a little dismissive about matters that set televisions reporters (and seemingly the nation) on fire, be it the discourse on racism , profiling of gender restrictive talents or patriarchal set ups in general. Through the clash between a stereotypical ghoonghat clad loud Punjabi family with a high end cultured Bengali intellectuals, the subtle undertone that hit was about how quick we are to dismiss notions that do not quantify well in our spectrum. For example Rocky Randhawa’s speech after Rani’s father’s classical performance is publicly shamed by the hip Punjabi audience is one for which the dialogue writer deserves a raise if not a superior mandate into any conversation that mentions the ‘woke culture’ in the Indian society . What really struck a chord in his monologue was how accurately it portrayed the cultural bias we have nurtured
through our social settings. The contemptuous outlook at everything that doesn’t resonate with our presumably superior understanding of the world deserves nothing but a dismissal followed by a grunt.

The lionising of culture contrasted with the seemingly steep curve of understanding presented a dilemma that any diversified culture would relate to. Him reiterating again and again the need to have a more comprehensive understanding of different point of views hits the bullseye in the current social climate , given that every contentious issue divides the public into three spheres where one group hold the higher ground of intellectual injunction, the other of dogmatic persistence and the third being the ones who are at this point too afraid to jump into the complex web battling information and misinformation. The fear of being ‘cancelled’ by the woke culture leaves little to no room for them to inculcate new world views, something that our protagonist seemingly struggled with through half of the movie and culminated into a quirky yet thought provoking monologue.

I’m afraid that the monologue in  Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani has done more for West Delhi gym guys than for feminism. Although the reactions to the movie can range from the audience bursting into loud ‘awws’, to scornful side eyes to the melodramatic social messages, the movie does provide a handful of insights that serve well to the ‘Dharma-tic’ audience.

Image Credits: Mint

Priya Shandilya
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Is Ghost Stories a spooky offering or a movie that you are well off ‘ghosting’?


What struck me watching Lust Stories way back when it released, was how all the four anthology films in it, somehow felt connected thematically despite being directed by individuals who are polar opposites of each other.

And this is what’s different in Netflix’s latest Indian offering, Ghost Stories. Directed by the same batch of the aforementioned anthology, this web movie also offers four different stories by Zoya Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap, Karon Johar, and Dibakar Banerjee.

Apart from the common theme of a supernatural phenomenon, all the stories are really disparate in terms of story and visual elements. And for this reason, the arrangement of the short films seems a bit haphazard. This criticism seems a bit too far-fetched but then, most of these shorts didn’t manage that much of a lasting mark, ending up as just decent attempts at Indian horror.

An exception can be Dibakar Banerjee’s segment which can arguably be the best part of Ghost Stories. The segment hardly has any night shots but the visual imagery of a destroyed village (inhabited by zombie-like hybrid creatures) under a dim sky is enough to amaze the viewer. The basic storyline of Banerjee’s film is that people of the ‘Bigtown’ had come to this ‘Smalltown’ and started eating the locals. This for some reason, starts a wave of a new race of human meat-eaters. The makeup work on these beasts is top-notch, and the entire rural setting made me crave more horrors. If this short is later turned in a full-length feature film, I would totally be up for it!

But, if we solely assess the other films in terms of visual elements, Zoya Akhtar and Anurag Kashyap have also done a good job in creating a spooky atmosphere. But then cause of some unnecessary scenes being dragged out, their efforts seem to look a bit pretentious as if the director is forcing you to feel scared (especially in Kashyap’s segment). Regardless, in Kashyap’s film, Sobhita Dhulipala (Made in Heaven, Raman Raghav 2.0) pulls off a convincing performance of a pregnant woman, obsessed with dolls whom she treats as her kids (although it’s only one angle of the story).

So basically, Akhtar and Kashyap’s work on Ghost Stories might be slightly flawed or underwhelming for some, but still, it makes for a good one time watch. But then, for a bizarre and tasteless finale to the anthology, we get Karan Johar…

Now, I’ll admit Karan Johar might hardly be considered as an ‘artsy’ director for many including me, but I thoroughly enjoyed his short in Lust Stories (it was my personal favourite in it). I liked seeing Karan Johar writing and directing a story where there was no need for PG-13 family melodrama and he could get truly get raunchy, sexual, and heart-warming at the same time.

And in Ghost Stories, he tried crafting a half-baked story making it unnecessarily raunchy in scenes; so much so that it felt like a Lust Stories spin-off. The protagonist’s husband goofily (unintentionally goofy acting maybe) talks to his ‘dead’ grandmother (possibly her spirit) every day and that concerns her obviously. Her best friend tells her to give him a blowjob and sort the matter out. And also there are some weird noises which she hears in the house, to which the best friend says ‘That’s the only blowjob that has been happening’.

Puns so bad that they’re good, but they seem so unnecessary. And the edits are so sudden that you are feeling a bit weird anticipating what will happen in the segment, but then you’re suddenly transported to the next scene with a stylish shot of a wedding probably shot at Sanjay Leela Bhansali setpiece. No offence to the production design team behind this wedding and the huge mansion where ‘Granny’ lives, but the setting seems so caricaturish that it might suit a Manyavar ad more than a film.

Whether it’s the orangish ‘candle flame-like’ tone of Zoya’s segment to the dark colourless tone in Anurag Kashyap’s, the colour palettes are different but all spooky. Karan Johar’s film on the other hand, has a cliched look which one might have seen in other Indian horror films. The main reason why I couldn’t appreciate this particular segment that much was because I couldn’t adjust with its tone, compared to the other parts.

Overall, Ghost Stories is a unique presentation by Netflix which shows that Indian filmmakers are indeed trying to up their game in genres where Indian cinema has been mocked usually. Even if it’s imperfect, it does give the average Bollywood viewer hope for better scares in future Indian cinema. Finally, watch the Zoya and Kashyap’s segments for the thrills, bite your nails with Dibakar Banerjee, and you can totally skip Karan Johar if you want too.


Featured Image Credits- Netflix


Shaurya Singh Thapa

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When we have not experienced something first hand, we tend to believe anything that is a popular opinion regarding it. So, if you are a fresher then you tend to believe everything that into pop culture and select Instagram posts show about college. However, not all of what you see is true. Here are some of the myths about college. Let’s bust them!

1. You won’t have to study

Just get your school life done with. Do your class 12 well and that is about it. You don’t have to study at college, you’ll pass all exams!

Let us take this moment to call you out of this misconception. You must or should have been really worried about your class 12 results and you should have worked hard for them. And, just to make sure you give it your all, people tell you that the struggle ends after your school is over. Definitely, college is not as hard as that until the last year. However, it does not mean you don’t have to study at all. Your score from semester one to the last semester adds up to count the final percentage at the end of your college, which will not only stick to your CV for the rest of your life but also play a crucial role in getting you a job or further admissions.

2. Life will suddenly turn into a Karan Johar movie

When your college is about to begin, your parents will take you out for shopping and your friends at college will talk about the freedom and fun you’re about to throw yourself into. With all the amazing clothes and stories given to you, you might begin daydreaming about your college life as one of those KJo movies. Yes, a few moments might definitely be like you’re on the golden screen. However, it is important to remember and be prepared for the fact that not everything will be as glamorous. There will be failures, heartbreaks and god forbid, bad hair days!  But what do all the protagonists do when in trouble? Get back up and emerge out of it!

3. You will get friends for life

This is not true for everybody. You do get contacts for life. You will receive and give several calls to your college mates throughout your life, for work. However, you might not remain tight friends with them. While in college, you will definitely have a ‘gang’ of friends. However, people tend to get scattered and busy once college ends. Only lucky people are able to sustain these lifelong friendships. But, the good news is that you are living in the era of social media. Most of your friends might be just one tap away from you, therefore, you have a great possibility to remain in touch for a long while.

4. You have to defend yourself in this cold world

Your parents are seeing you grow as you enter the new college environment. They have seen and been in touch with your school, earlier. They used to trust the school, its people, and its rules well. However, they now are a little paranoid about college. They will tell you all sorts of precautions you have to take to defend yourself in the ‘cold world’ you’re about to enter. However, it is not true. Do not pull up your guards or over think about anything at college. It will just cause mistrust. College is as warm as a school if you want it to be. There will be well-wishers, there will be competitors like there always are at every place! Just remember to take sensible decisions and really know a person before relying on them. That done, you are good to go!

Feature Image Credit: Hindustan Times

Khyati Sanger

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What does Karan Johar’s subtle coming out mean for us?

Karan Johar’s newly released “An Unsuitable Boy” has sparked a conversation about sexuality and privacy in India. Our correspondent tells you how the celebrated director’s autobiography has already impacted the LGBTQ, and otherwise mainstream, Indian society.

The widely publicised release of “An Unsuitable Boy”, Karan Johar’s autobiography, has been accompanied by all sections of society weighing in on Johar’s sexuality and his expression of it. In his own words, Johar states, “Everybody knows what my sexual orientation is. I don’t need to scream it out. If I need to spell it out, I won’t only because I live in a country where I could possibly be jailed for saying this. Which is why I Karan Johar will not say the three words that possibly everybody knows about me.”

Here’s what this means – Karan Johar is gay. Karan Johar will not explicitly state that he is gay. The chances are that many of us who have grown up watching Johar in the public light are not surprised by this ‘admission’. However, while we may be appreciative of his candor, many of us are still disappointed by his lack of explicitness. We place an extraordinary amount of responsibility on Johar to use his platform to raise awareness about LGBTQ issues in as oppressive a society as India. His status as a Bollywood veteran even provides some level of protection and support that many of us fail to identify in our daily lives. As such, surely he owes it to his most ardent followers, and perhaps more importantly, to the thousands of closeted citizens of India, to come out more eloquently and remove the stigma around sexual minorities.

The problem with this assumption and expectation lies in the simple fact that despite his fame and prosperity, Johar is only human. Sure, he may have a voice and the ability to give confidence to people in India who are still struggling to come to terms with their sexualities. And while it is understandable, and even acceptable to some extent, to expect him to “say the three words”, he deserves the same level of privacy that we would expect in our daily lives, away from the limelight. At the end of the day, his sexuality and his expression of it are both his choice alone. Pressurising him to be overtly gay is no better than heteronormative society pressuring him to be straight. Perhaps one day he’ll feel safe enough to declare his sexuality without the fear of law. Until then, we can only appreciate what he has chosen to share with us now.

So if you catch yourself judging him while reading his latest, take a step back to think about the courage he mustered to reveal his sexual orientation at all, and then cut him some slack for only being human.

Feature Image Credits: Blog to Bollywood

Vineeta Rana
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100 years of song and dance, technicolour expressions and the classic Bollywoody Maa came to their age. New stamps were released by the government and hordes of desi actors landed up on Cannes’ shores, finally with some half-baked reason of representing the century old Indian film industry to get their 15 seconds of limelight. In all of these, the irony fell on the 100 year old dame of the industry itself. It would have been expected that the industry of million films would churn out at least a few dozen to celebrate the century, but no. Its most visible face internationally, Bollywood, came out with only one and in aapna filmy language, it was hugely thanda.

Divided into four short films directed by four very different directors, Bombay Talkies starts with Karan Johar’s ‘Ajeeb Dastan Hain Yeh’. Gayatri and Dev are a very good looking couple who for some reason don’t have enough sex. Avinash is Gayatri’s young gay colleague who happens to ascertain using his superior gaydar that Dev is gay. No reason is offered as to why he goes out of his way to act all creepy with his office bestie’s husband. Johar leaves a lot of loose ends untied and all of the characters flat. They never get explored enough and given the time constraints Johar had, it is understandable, given the fact that the average runtime of his films is 2 Kumbh Melas and all the episodes of ‘Kyunki Sans Bhi kabhi Bahu Thi’ put together. Talking about acting, while Rani played the bored wife to the T, the parts showing her in her “highflying working woman” avatar felt phoney. Randeep Hooda looked and acted his character well, the silence of his words and intensity of his stare going well with the role he was playing. Saqib Saleem looked as if he was trying too hard to act his part convincingly and was much pleasant in his debut film.Bombay Talkies POSTER_0

Nothing about the film was ‘ajeeb’, if we don’t limit our understanding of the word ‘ajeeb’ to only the very superficial treatment of the theme of homosexuality and female sexuality. Yes, female sexuality because for me, the segment may deal more visibly with the sexuality of the two men in the story but the woman’s sexuality is given ample, if not enough, screen time too. The intentions might have been in the right places and placing this particular segment at the first certainly points to the more progressiveness of the film makers, but it falls flat on the execution. Playing with one stereotype after another, Johar shows an unhappy couple, a sassy gay friend and the very clichéd moment of realisation for the husband. What happened in the west in decades past is only peeping in here now and Bollywood in its 100th year should have shown more maturity.