There are times when even a usually cool, calm and collected Karan Johar can get a panic attack. Like when he decided to get on board Bombay Talkies, an omnibus of four films (each a 20-25 minute ‘short’) celebrating our infinite and unconditional love for Hindi cinema. “I was the only commercial, mainstream voice in the group. I thought I’ll dilute the impact of the art of Zoya Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap and Dibakar Banerjee, wasn’t sure if I’d be able to match their syntax,” he says about trying to keep in step with the other three collaborators. But he seems to be in fine form if the film is anything to go by. It releases this Friday, coinciding with the celebration of 100 years of Indian cinema.
Stepping far away from the much-reviled ‘KJo formula’—of designer costumes, sets and emotions—Karan chooses brevity over excess, allusion over explanation, sensitivity over melodrama and natural over the manipulative to present a compassionate look at fragile relationships, and the underlying deceits and betrayals. For someone lambasted for making a joke of homosexuality in Dostana, he tries to get correct and unambiguous here.
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If Karan steps out of his comfort zone, so does Anurag Kashyap, fully aware of the danger of rubbing his ‘fanboys’ the wrong way. Anurag, cheerleader of the alternate, goes...