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TIME FOR `KOFFEE' Karan Johar says it is too early to judge him, as he is only four films old.
TIME FOR `KOFFEE' Karan Johar says it is too early to judge him, as he is only four films old.

SANGEETA BAROOAH PISHAROTY

Be it "Koffee with Karan" or his forthcoming ventures, popular director Karan Johar's focus is now on the small screen. There is life beyond "Koffee" too!

Karan Johar. The name has become so familiar that one assumes he has been in Bollywood for years. That this promising director has made just a fistful of films seems a mistaken impression. So when he comes out with the reminder, "Well, it is too early to judge me, I am just four films old," one receives it with more than a shade of disbelief. Yet, it is so true. Having given an "all-new feel-good" bent to his father Yash Johar's company Dharma Productions with the Shah Rukh-Rani-Kajol starrer, "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai" in 1998, Karan has seen Bollywood success coming in a chain. A series of super hit K-films - "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham", "Kal Ho Naa Ho" and "Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna" followed. All in less than a decade, associating his name in public perception with a Midas touch.

Next project

And not just directing films, Karan's versatility has taken him to many mediums - scriptwriting, event hosting, and of course, the small screen, not just as the host of the chat show, "Koffee with Karan", which is returning with a new season this February, but as a reality hunt judge (in "Indian Idol"), and a "bigger role" in an upcoming entertainment channel too. That he has appeared in a few cameos in films, that he is a postgraduate in French, that his close friends are sought-after names, is all incidental. Karan somehow sounds apologetic about having not yet announced his next big project. "I will soon announce my next film. I have not done it because I am so tied up with my new season of `Koffee With Karan'." All animated about the show starting both on Star World and Star One from February 11 at 9 p.m., Karan, as expected, has picked Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol and Rani Mukherji from his friend-list to open the series. "Isn't it a good idea? They will be seen together for the first time on my show after `Kuch Kuch Hota Hai'," says Karan. In an easy-going banter, he talks about getting "petrified" by the thought of including in the guest list this time, people other than his friends in Bollywood. "It is the same show with the same coffee hamper but what is new is the sets, and personalities from the sports and the corporate world." Karan has already canned shows with industrialist Vijay Mallya, ("whom I know quite well, and so it was easy"), filmmaker Mira Nair and Hollywood actor Richard Gere. "I am trying to get more names from sports and business, I have to do my homework," he says, the tone very much that of a schoolboy preparing his notes.Karan promises that his show will flit around "topical stuff" and not just about anything and everything. "You have seen me before, it will be an easy, casual conversation, almost like overhearing a lounge conversation, nothing serious," he says. And that, Karan spells out, is the show's USP.Though the behind-the-door talks have become official now that Karan is associated with NDTV's upcoming entertainment channel, he says his role in the project has not exactly been defined yet. "I am surely going to be a part of it but I am not allowed to tell you yet exactly what I will be doing there," he says. The channel's launch date, he insists, "has not been decided yet".

In cameos

Even though we have spotted him in cameos, be it with Shah Rukh in "Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge", "Alag", "Home Delivery", or using his voice in the recently released "Salaam-e-Ishq", Karan says he has an urge for bigger roles. "I don't mind doing a full-fledged role in a film but sad, no one has offered me one," he muses, and laughs out loud, adding, "but mind you, I will never work in my movies. Let others' money sink, not mine." Calling himself an emotional person, Karan says even close to three years after his father's death, he often feels as if his "head is missing.""But the goodwill is there and I am happy about it," he states. Though it will be a little while before we see this nimble new-age filmmaker on the director's chair, his Dharma Productions has quite a few projects lined up. "Ours is a boutique production house. I am really open to promising directors making films for us. We have one lined up with Tarun Mansukhani, then with Soham Shah. Also, I am thinking of doing an animation film."The 35-year-old director and scriptwriter doesn't mind "experimenting" with films other than the types he has given us so far. "I am open to the idea, but it is too early to put me in a bracket, I am just four films old," he comes up with the reminder yet again.

Masters in French

And then continues, "I am always interested in learning something new. And that is why I did my masters in French some years back." He says the ability to speak French has made things easier for him outside India. "Be it Cannes or elsewhere, it has made it easier to communicate with people." On a lighter note, he adds, "but not in Switzerland, we have gone there so many times that even the Swiss cows know us!"Having given hits one after another, he recognises "the tremendous pressure" on him to continue delivering success. But that doesn't bog him down much. Looking at his easy-going, untailored persona, often disarmingly chatty, ("What do you think of `Salaam-e-Ishq'? Isn't it too long?"), and almost always laced with a hearty guffaw, we surely don't need to ask the secret behind his stress-free approach.


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