Despite his debut film Kuch Kuch Hota Hai being a big hit, filmmaker Karan Johar says when he watches the movie today he finds it to be based on an “unusually silly theme”.
Released in 1998, the romantic-drama starring Shah Rukh Khan was one of the blockbusters of the year.
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai chronicled the story of a mother, played by Rani Mukerji, who leaves eight letters for her daughter before her death, so that she can reunite her father (Khan) with his best friend from college (Kajol).
“Actually, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai is a very unusually silly theme. Don’t know what the mother wrote in those eight letters. How can an eight-year-old read that?
“But it was done with so much conviction,” Johar said at the Jagran Film Festival in Mumbai.
“The hero says, ‘Zindagi may pyaar ek bar hota hai, shaadi ek bar hoti hai’ [‘In life, you fall in love once, and you marry only once’], but he himself has fallen in love twice, got married twice. Everything was wrong, but it was written with so much conviction that it made sense,” the 44-year-old director said.
Johar said he was 24 when he wrote the film and was inspired by the cinema of Raj Kapoor and Yash Chopra among others.
“There was some innocence in films of those times, when we used to say ‘pyaar dosti hai, love is friendship’. I have made a film on the same theme but have updated its tonality. That film had an organic innocence,” he said.
“But I can’t write the same film now. When I see Kuch Kuch Hota Hai today or Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham I wonder, ‘Why did I write this, how did I write this, from where these thoughts came to my mind?’” he said.
The My Name is Khan director said he often gets stumped when people ask him questions regarding the characters in the film, ranging from Khan’s profession to just how easily his character fell in love with Kajol’s.
“Once Shabana ji [Azmi] called me after watching the film and said, ‘What is this, when she was not beautiful, love didn’t happen. But the moment she turned beautiful, wore sari, grew long hair, love happened? What do you want to say?’ I just said ‘Sorry. I have no justification’,” he said.
Johar also talked about his multi-starrer Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham which featured Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Khan, Kajol, Hrithik Roshan and Kareena Kapoor.
The director said he thought he was making a “Ramayan of family films”, but the film is very similar to Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.
“If you watch Kabhi Khushi, it is the exact same format of Kuch Kuch. The way it starts, from flashback, then the interval point. In fact, Hrithik Roshan is the baby Sanah of Kuch Kuch,” he said.
“It is the same screenplay, which I realised much later. That time I thought I was making an epic, but is the same story of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai,” he added.