If one were to name India’s illustrious directors, Karan Johar is the man whose brand relates to the most momentous ventures of Bollywood in the last few decades. No! We aren’t relating to his direction, which is definitely unparalleled when it comes to scripting a commercial success, it is his production house, Dharma which assigns itself to the most poignant films of recent times. Though Karan’s father Yash Johar had built Dharma as the brand it stands today, it is Karan indeed who gave the company its much needed stronghold and weightage. The imagery associated with Dharma earlier was plush locales and lavish sets, to which Karan added realism by taking up bold, experimental and realistic scripts like Kurbaan, Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna and Wake Up Sid. Koimoi on the eve of the release of Dharma Productions’ Gippi, this Friday traces the success rate of Dharmas’ venture and its eventual fate at the box office.
Karan Johar’s first solo production came with Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, which he directed as well. It is the rare concept that the film introduced in Bollywood, bringing out the issue of marital discordance and extra marital affairs that incurred him critics’ harsh words yet boosted his morale for continuing to trust his conviction on films whose concepts are such a rarity. The film for its indomitable star presence of Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Priety Zinta and Rani Mukerji, managed to become quite a hit at both the domestic and global box office. Earning a lifetime collections of 46 crores at the domestic box office, it still remains one of the most prominent films produced by KJo.
He next took up a laugh riot of a script by Tarun Mansukhani and backed it up to make Dostana. The film that was mainly a romantic comedy was a hit for the unbeatable chemistry of John Abraham and Abhishek Bachchan who posed as gay lovers in the film. Though cheekily clichéd and offensive depicting homosexual relationships stereotypically, the film was a hit and earned a total domestic collection of 45 crores approximately.
After tasting a much heightened success at production with two money spinning ventures, he decided to score up for script and its honesty. Backing a controversial and bold film Kurbaan, centered around Islamic fundamentalism and global terrorism, Karan Johar focused mainly on delivering a powerful story rather than counting his bills. The film could not manage a decent box office collection and rested its nett earnings at 24 crores at the domestic box office.
It was hard to deter Johar’s faith on scripts especially on ones his conviction laid. Despite not being able to deliver a hit from the Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor starrer Kurbaan, Karan still backed debutant director Ayan Mukherji’s heartwarming film Wake Up Sid starring Konkona Sen Sharma and Ranbir Kapoor. The film traces the coming of age of its protagonist’s lackadaisical nature that must learn the value of responsibility. The film went on to become a hit with a total domestic collection of 28.50 crores.
Karan gambled a large part of his money on his dream venture My Name is Khan. Starring his favorite actors Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol, the film was set on the backdrop of victimization of Muslims following 9/11 scenario. The film an all-in-all SRK was lauded by critics as a perseverant effort at showcasing the issue without a judgmental approach.
2012 began brilliantly for KJo. Working on a remake of the classic Big B film Agneepath, starring Hrithik Roshan, Sanjay Dutt and Priyanka Chopra, the film went on to become his most successful venture ever. The film made a marvelous business of 123.50 crores at the domestic box office, becoming his first film to venture into the esteemed 100 crore club.
Dharma Productions followed up the success of Agneepath with their high school romance film, Student of the Year launching three new faces in Bollywood – Siddharth Malhotra, Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt. The film was a typical slice from trademark KJo style of ornate film sets set up in posh locations. The film went on to become a super hit by earning over 70 crores at the domestic box office despite the presence of new stars in lead roles.
Though a couple of his co-productions had doomed concepts like Kaal with Red Chillies and I Hate Luv Storys with UTV, yet there is one memorable co-production out of Dharma that deserves a special mention. Kareena Kapoor and Imran Khan starrer Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu was a beautiful concept that stays true-to-the-term modern age love story.
While Bombay Talkies is getting Karan Johar brilliant reviews for making a bold short film, quite unlikely his style and sensibility of cinema, it quite brought out the man’s honest affinity towards building earnest films. With Gippi working on the same lines delving into a story of an adolescent girl dealing with peer pressure, looking towards beauty and popularity, it is a realistic film from KJo’s brand that will definitely earn back its investment. However, it entirely depends on the film’s essence whether it will earn any beyond. Karan Johar’s stamp on the film will attract its initial audiences but the eventual pull will be based on a positive word of the mouth which depends on the film’s intrinsic value.