Appearing united under a South Asian umbrella, filmmakers Sharmeen Obiad Chinoy and Karan Johar both avoided even mentioning ‘Pakistan’ and ‘India’ in their 30-minute conversation at the World Economic Forum this morning. They did address all the looming issues, most of them adverse, with characteristic cheekiness (provoked by Karan Johar) and the result was a conversation that determined just how close the two countries were and how viciously their artistes had been divided because of political agendas under the pretext of nationalism.
It was a riveting conversation, which began with an unthreatening discussion on family support and then eventually skirted around intolerance on subjects that filmmakers had the liberty of exploring and women empowerment. Chinoy spoke about how she realized, eventually, that those who hated upon her only wanted to drown out her voice. Johar spoke about Kabhi Alvidaa Naa Kehna and how infidelity was a subject the Indian audience was not tolerant to and the criticism and abuse that followed was mostly then directed towards his sexual orientation.
Immensely serious issues were discussed in an easy, light hearted and almost free wheeling manner.
“Ever since I was four I was trapped in the body of a Hindi film heroine,: Karan Johar laughed at himself when he spoke of how delusional every Punjabi father was about his son.
“My greatest asset is being a woman in Pakistan,” Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy commented on women empowerment and how she totally played the damsel in distress when needed.
“I look more like a damsel in distress (than you), darling,” Johar replied when Chinoy questioned him about Fawad Khan. “I’m going to take some time to process that,” he said. “You didn’t play the woman card; you played the journalist card there!”
Watch the full conversation here:
Johar responded as politically correctly as he could, praising Fawad Khan for his acting skills while making it clear what a nightmare he went through before the release of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil.
“It was a tough time for me; a tough time for my film,” he said. “I have great regard for talent and for Fawad Khan’s talent, which is why he’s in two of my films. I wish and hope that he finds the right platform for his talent. I would never want to go through that again. I felt weak, vulnerable and victimized while all I wanted to feel was creatively liberated.”
When asked whether he would ever make a film on partition being mistake he smiled, ” I would never make that film. I’m strong not retardedly brave. I’ll stick to love and romance, thanks!”
The conversation ended on how the narrative needed to change to hope, not revisiting the past. Both filmmakers agreed that while the past could not be changed, the future could.
“We want to forge forward with a connection,” Chinoy concluded. “There should be no boundaries for artistes,” Johar echoed the sentiment. And amen to that.