A scene from Simmba Image Credit: Supplied

Acting has been a slippery slope for Bollywood’s flamboyant director and producer Karan Johar. He may be a smooth talk show host and make dazzling musicals, but success has eluded him on the acting front ever since he made his debut in director Anurag Kashyap’s disastrous film ‘Bombay Velvet’ as a smarmy, ambitious villain.

“I am sad to report that I got no acting offers since ‘Bombay Velvet’,” Johar said in an interview with Gulf News tabloid!.

“When I was in school, I thought acting could be a potential gold mine for me… So, when I was in an Anurag Kashyap film as an antagonist I thought I had arrived as an actor… But when it failed, I thought there goes my chance of being in the arc lights,” he added.

However, this Bollywood gladiator is in no mood to throw in the towel when it comes to his acting ambitions. Johar has a song cameo in ‘Simmba’, his latest production starring Ranveer Singh. An irreverent Johar jokes that his brief appearance might appease his dream of being part of a blockbuster film, directed by Bollywood’s hit machine Rohit Shetty.

“I carry the baggage of self everywhere I go. I carry this baggage of making only a certain kind of film [flashy romances] or that I am someone who loves to wear shiny shoes… They don’t go beyond the surface. I have learnt to live with it. I am doomed if I do and I am doomed if I don’t… Trust me, I will make a comeback. The world should be warned,” said Johar with a laugh. Right now, he’s busy promoting ‘Simmba’ as a co-producer.

So what made him invest in a Shetty film?

“Rohit Shetty’s films are drastically and diametrically different from the kind of films I make… But just like me, he’s unapologetic and unabashed in his convictions. He is also particular about not communicating anything that is incorrect in his films. He has no shades of grey in his films that are for families… He just does what he believes in and he doesn’t emulate any other filmmaker and I admire that about him,” Johar said.

Johar is onto something here. Shetty’s films are an ode to old-school ‘masala’ films that project their heroes in a larger-than-life format. There are songs and stunts thrown in generously into such family friendly films.

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“‘Simmba’s’ trailer just knocked you on your solar plexus. It has the complete craziness of Ranveer Singh and the mainstream madness of Rohit Shetty. It’s one of those films that explode on you and you want to simply be a part of that explosion,” said Johar.

‘Simmba’ will tackle the tricky subject of sexual violence against women. Singh plays a corrupt cop who undergoes a drastic makeover when his friend gets raped.

“Rohit has handled it so sensitively and in a manner that the mass India will understand. It’s a topic that needs addressing… But it’s not done in a crude manner and he’s completely honest in his intentions,” the producer said.

Johar also rubbished claims that he was trying to monetise on a burning issue and the collective rage in a nation that has seen a spike in violence against women.

“When I made ‘Dostana’, I was told that I was stereotyping homosexuality. But I say, because of that film, it’s a part of today’s dining table conversation… ‘Simmba’ will communicate to the predators that sexual violence against women is the most heinous crimes in the world,” he added.

It’s the first time that Johar has collaborated with Shetty.

“I loved ‘Golmaal 3’. It was such a laugh riot… If you go down the archives, we tried collaborating around five years ago… But we had to get the right project and ‘Simmba’ was it. And Ranveer Singh is the Rohit Shetty prototype hero,” Johar said.

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‘Simmba’ is out in the UAE on December 27.