Image Credit: IIFA

It looks like Bollywood producer-director Karan Johar still hasn’t recovered from the ‘Nepotism Rocks’ joke that fell flat when he hosted the International Indian Film Academy Awards in New York last year.

At the 2017 Iifa Awards ceremony, the influential producer and director took a swipe at actress Kangna Ranaut for accusing him of being the ‘flag-bearer of nepotism’ and used the stage to mock her. The joke didn’t go down too well with anyone.

At this year’s Iifa Awards press conference in Bangkok on Friday afternoon, Johar made it a point to drive home the message that he solely relies on talent and merit.

Director Karan Johar and actors Arjun Kapoor, Kartik Aaryan, Kriti Sanon and Ayushmann Khurrana react during a press conference at the 19th International Indian Film Academy festival in Bangkok. AFP

Borrowing actress Dia Mirza’s catch phrase ‘if you can’t use it, refuse it’ — she used the Iifa platform on Friday to spread the cause of saying no to plastics — Johar hoped the same theory applied while choosing talents for films.

“Most of us believe that when it comes to talents too. If you can’t re-use that talent, then refuse that talent. That’s the way every producer should ideally go,” said Johar.

Johar, who returns as a host at this year’s 19th edition of the Iifa Awards, also lauded the young brigade of Bollywood actors, who formed a dominant presence this year.

“Iifas this year brings together such young dynamic talents such as Varun Dhawan, Arjun Kapoor, Kartik Aaryan, Kriti Sanon … Iifa truly does rock … as a feeling, as a sensation and as an emotion,” said Johar, adding that the awards are truly a gigantic cinematic celebration.

Age-defying actor Anil Kapoor also praised the awards for being fair and recounted his own personal experience when he won even though he refused to attend the ceremony. Bollywood awards have recently come under fire for lacking credibility as an actor’s presence at an awards are likely to guarantee them a trophy.

Actor Varun Dhawan, who is riding high after the success of hotel drama October, took it upon himself to spread some cheer with his trademark goofiness.

“But in all seriousness, ever since I was 15 and attended my first Iifas in Yorkshire I was always dreaming of being invited as an actor to these awards … It’s an incredible moment for us” said Dhawan.

Kriti Sanon told Gulf News tabloid! that her film Bareilley Ki Barfi, which has received multiple nominations at the awards this year, is the highlight of her career.

“People still stop me and ask me about Bareilley. Never has that happened to me. I got so much love for Bareilley Ki Barfi,” said Sanon.

Bangkok will transform into a Bollywood epicentre in the next two days as Iifa invasion is underway. The glittering awards night will be held on June 24.