IFFI 2023 | Karan Johar: ‘I’m a proud feminist; selecting a female-led story is nearly an intuition’

Karan Johar together with Sara Ali Khan throughout a panel dialogue on the subject ‘Drawing inspiration from historical past to create an immersive cinematic expertise for at this time’s audiences’ on the 54th Worldwide Movie Competition of India (IFFI)
| Photograph Credit score: ANI

Talking on the 54th Worldwide Movie Competition of India (IFFI) in Goa, filmmaker-producer Karan Johar mentioned that he’s a ‘proud feminist’ who doesn’t see gender relating to selling highly effective narratives by means of the cinematic type.

Johar’s upcoming manufacturing, Ae Watan Mere Watan, is a patriotic saga set throughout the Give up India Motion in 1942. The movie stars Sara Ali Khan as a younger freedom fighter who begins an underground radio station to counter imperial propaganda throughout the freedom wrestle. The makers launched the movie’s poster on the opening ceremony of IFFI in Panaji, Goa. A day later, Johar alongside together with his lead star Sara and director Kannan Iyer mentioned the themes and making of the interval drama at a dwell panel and Q&A. They had been joined by Aparna Purohit, head of Originals for India and South-East Asia at Amazon Prime Video. Ae Watan Mere Watan is about to premiere instantly on the platform in early 2024.

Up to now, Johar’s banner Dharma Productions has backed inspiring female-led dramas like Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Lady (2020) and Raazi (2018).

“I’m a proud feminist raised by a powerful mom and really, very sturdy aunts,” Johar mentioned in response to an viewers query. “For me, selecting a female-led story is nearly an intuition. It’s one thing I’m simply drawn to as a result of, like we mentioned, we dwell in a vastly patriarchal society. And even within the current movie that I directed, Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani, it was a commentary I made inside that movie. The USP of any story, I don’t see by gender. I see by narrative and soul. Ae Watan Mere Watan was as soon as such story that wanted to be advised.”

Karan Johar, Sara Ali Khan, Kannan Iyer, producer Apoorva Mehta, Prime Video Head of Originals India and South-East Asia Aparna Purohit

Karan Johar, Sara Ali Khan, Kannan Iyer, producer Apoorva Mehta, Prime Video Head of Originals India and South-East Asia Aparna Purohit
| Photograph Credit score:

Director Kannan Iyer mentioned that within the movie, Sara’s character is “impressed by”, however indirectly primarily based on, Usha Mehta, a pupil activist and Gandhian from Bombay’s Wilson School who organized the clandestine Congress Radio (often known as Azad Radio) for quite a few months in 1942. She was 22 years outdated on the time.

Mehta’s valour and ingenuity helped coordinate protest actions towards the British, and likewise kindle emotions of patriotism and dissent in her fellow countrymen.

“We’ve got remained true to the essence of precise occasions that happened across the Give up India Motion of 1942,” Iyer, who has co-written the script with Darab Farooqui, mentioned. “There was a clandestine radio which was began by younger, courageous freedom fighters, the principle one amongst them being Usha Mehta. However having mentioned that, we have now taken plenty of artistic liberties in an effort to make the story far more partaking for the viewers. That’s why I’d say Sara’s character is impressed by Usha Mehta, however it isn’t primarily based on her.”

Sara, a graduate of historical past and political science from Columbia College, mentioned that there are lots of heroes of the Indian freedom wrestle who haven’t ‘obtained their due’.

“I’m a historical past pupil however I nonetheless don’t assume I can title you greater than 25 freedom fighters on a very good day,” the actor mentioned. “And there are lots of, many extra. And the story of sacrifice takes many types. There may be the bravery and the energy that we will visualise, like after we consider Bhagat Singh. However there’s additionally so many unsung heroes whose sacrifices take the type of simply private energy and valour that’s not essentially bodily, however a lot of the psychological fortitude required on a day by day constant foundation to struggle for what you like.”

Johar mentioned they’ve made the movie for the youthful technology of at this time. “Each time we use the phrase Gen-Z, there’s all the time one thing derogatory in that tone. However the youngsters of at this time are nice! They’re extra well-researched and intense than we’re. They know extra about their nation than we do. They learn far more. They’re all alert. They know in regards to the politics and historical past of our nation. That is, in each method, a Gen-Z story.”

The session was not with out its moments of levity. At one level, Johar ventured that his ‘subsequent mission’ after the discharge of Ae Watan Mere Watan is to get Sara Ali Khan married. “There’s a little bit of a Seema Taparia (from Indian Matchmaking) in me. I simply can’t assist it. I’m that Punjabi aunty that desires to get folks collectively,” the Koffee With Karan host joked.

He additionally conceded that the lyrics of the music ‘Ishq Wala Love’ — parodied for its cross-vernacular redundancy — made “no sense”. The romantic quantity was written by Anvita Dutt, and featured in Johar’s 2012 directorial Pupil of the 12 months.

“It made completely no sense. I keep in mind so many parody movies had been made and TVF began their profession with a parody video of ‘Ishq Wala Love’,” Johar mentioned, including that the movie’s composers Vishal-Shekhar appeared “traumatised” by the lyrics.

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