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The godfather of Bollywood, filmmaker Karan Johar is celebrating his 50th birthday on May 25. While Johar is well known for his larger-than-life movie productions that are often star-studded affairs and imbibe love, family and all those messy emotions in between, he is also known to make or break careers while serving as a launchpad for many a hopeful star kids looking to enter Bollywood.
Image Credit: Insta/karanjohar
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Over the years, despite countless cries of nepotism, Johar has successfully introduced some talented stars into the film circle, with Alia Bhatt perhaps being his most famous find. Talking about nepotism in an interview with India Today last year, Johar addressed the constant criticism by saying he has also launched non-nepotistic actors and directors in the industry but no one is talking about that. “We have introduced 21 debut directors. Out of which, I can say, 16-17 are not ‘nepotistic’ young filmmakers. They are not from the fraternity or the industry. They are completely from outside,” Johar was quoted as saying.
Image Credit: Insta/aliaabhatt
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He added: “Why don’t I get the benefit of that; my production house is launching kids who are directors/filmmakers. They are making major motion pictures and leading the game. They are not from the industry. Why don’t I get credit for that? Why do they discredit some of the actors who are from (the industry)? Why do I have to justify it at first? I think they are talented enough to face the camera and maybe, one thing can say is that they get easy access, but after that, they have got a journey ahead.”
Image Credit: Instagram.com/karanjohar
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With a few more star-kid hopefuls waiting in the wings, we take a look at all the celebs Johar has launched (or is in the process of launching) in Bollywood and where are they now:
Image Credit: Instagram.com/aliabhatt, Instagram.com/varundvn, Twitter.com/karanjohar and Instagram.com/janhvikapoor
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Shanaya Kapoor is the latest star kid to get a launch into Bollywood courtesy filmmaker Johar. After his talent company, Dharma Cornerstone Agency, signed on actor Sanjay Kapoor and jewellery designer Maheep Kapoor’s daughter for a new film last year, the name of the project has finally been announced. Shanaya’s debut movie will be in upcoming movie ‘Bedhadak’. “Introducing the gorgeous @shanayakapoor02 as Nimrit in #Bedhadak. An enchanting force to look out for, I can’t wait to see the energy she brings onto the screen!” Johar wrote in his caption along with a character poster. The two other actors that will be part of the project are Gurfateh Pirzada, who will play Angad, and Lakshya Lalwani, who will play Karan.
Image Credit: Twitter.com/karanjohar
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Shanaya comes from a long lineage of Bollywood celebrities in her family, including uncles Anil Kapoor and Boney Kapoor, along with cousins Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, Janhvi Kapoor and Arjun Kapoor.
Image Credit: Iinstagram.com/sonamkapoor/
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Alia Bhatt, daughter to prolific filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, is perhaps the most successful of his finds, who was launched into Bollywood through his 2012 film, ‘Student of the Year’. While the film didn’t do much for her career in terms of acting, it was her second film, ‘Highway’, with Imtiaz Ali that really won Bhatt accolades and gave her a standing in the industry. Since, Bhatt has gone on to star in films such as ‘Udta Punjab’, ‘Raazi’, ‘Dear Zindagi’, ‘Gully Boy’, ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’ and his plum projects in the works, including Ayan Mukerji’s ‘Brahmastra’, along with Johar’s ‘Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani’. The actress is also co-producing ‘Darlings’ with Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment and is currently shooting for her Hollywood debut film, ‘Heart of Stone’ with Gal Gadot.
Image Credit: Instagram.com/aliabhatt
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Varun Dhawan, son of filmmaker David Dhawan, worked up the ranks in Johar’s Dharma Productions before getting his big screen debut with ‘Student of the Year’ as well in 2012. Dhawan had worked as assistant director on Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘My Name is Khan’ before stepping in front of the camera. The actor hasn’t done too bad for himself as well, appearing in films such as ‘Badlapur’, ‘ABCD 2’, ‘Sui Dhaaga’, among others. His next film is ‘JugJugg Jeeyo’ with Kiara Advani that Johar is co-producing, followed by ‘Bhediya’.
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Ishaan Khattar, who is Shahid Kapoor’s half-brother, didn’t exactly make his debut in the Johar backed ‘Dhadak’ in 2018, but the film did serve as his stepping stone into commercial cinema after having starred in Majid Majidi’s ‘Beyond The Clouds’ a year earlier. Khattar has had limited releases since his debut, with ‘Khaali Peeli’ that is streaming on Zee5. His next is ‘Phone Bhoot’s alongside Katrina Kaif and Siddhant Chaturvedi.
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Getting her big break in Bollywood with Johar’s ‘Dhadak’ was Sridevi and Boney Kapoor’s daughter Janhvi Kapoor, who played the lead in the Bollywood film that was a remake of the Marathi hit, ‘Sairaat’. The actress has had several releases since, two of which were on Netflix, including ‘Ghost Stories’ and ‘Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl’. Her second big screen release was ‘Roohi’, a horror-comedy that opened to lukewarm reviews.
Image Credit: Instagram.com/janhvikapoor
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Ananya Panday, daughter of actor Chunky Pandey and Bhavana Pandey, also entered Bollywood thanks to Johar and his ‘Student of the Year 2’, which released in 2019. Shortly after the release of the film, Bollywood went into lockdown in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and Panday has had the Zee5 release, ‘Khaali Peeli’ and ‘Pati Patni Aur Woh’. With the lockdown in India lifting saw her in Shakun Batra’s ‘Gehraiyaan’, while she’s also awaiting the release of the Johar produced ‘Liger’ with Vijay Devarakonda, along with ‘Kho Gaye Hum Kahaan’, which is being made by Zoya Akhtar.
Image Credit: Instagram.com/ananyapanday
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Aside from Shanaya, cousin Khushi Kapoor is also waiting in the wings to be launched into Bollywood. Janhvi’s younger sister may not be riding into Bollywood thanks to Johar, what with her debut film ‘The Archies’ being directed by Zoya Akhtar and releasing on Netflix next year, it still cannot be ruled out that the godfather will be around to lend a helping hand into the film industry.
Image Credit: instagram.com/khushi05k
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Meanwhile, Suhana Khan, who is Shah Rukh Khan and Gauri Khan’s daughter, is also starring in ‘The Archies’ along with Khushi and Amitabh Bachchan’s grandson Agastya Nanda. Again, while Johar isn’t the launchpad, Khan who is often referred to as an older brother by Johar, would have advise his daughter to turn to Uncle Johar for her Bollywood career.
Image Credit: Instagram.com/suhanakhan2/