There’s A Myth To Masculinity. We Live In Blurred Lines, Says Karan Johar

Karan Johar talks to Barkha Dutt on his biggest fears, what masculinity means to him, and his unabashed love for cinema.
Karan Johar avoids the use of the word “nepotism” when discussing star kids in Bollywood.
Karan Johar avoids the use of the word “nepotism” when discussing star kids in Bollywood.

“I cried with an open heart, and now a free heart.”

That’s how Karan Johar reacted when the Supreme Court decriminalised homosexuality. “I didn’t realise it would mean so much to me,” he said at a panel discussion titled ‘Men and the Myth of Masculinity’, during the We The Women summit hosted by journalist Barkha Dutt.

The apex court’s decision, according to the filmmaker, moved him so much because of what he endured as a child. People in the 80s would call him a pansy for dancing to the leading lady’s role in a song and for the way he walked and spoke, he said. “I started developing an aversion to the word pansy. It did make a deep impact on me because I thought I was different, and I was told I was different, and this word ‘pansy’ just stayed with me, it kept following me.”

But for what the producer and director had decided to seek professional help, he eventually felt comfortable in his own skin. He became more confident and that reflected in his movies.

Did the fact that he was so successful make it easier for him to speak about his orientation? Yes, but it was tough.

He recalls being told at a gathering that he wasn’t “man enough”, to which he said, “Please explain that to me. Put me in the zone of life, and I’m more man than you are. I have a strong woman in me and that’s why I am more man than you are.”

There’s a certain myth to masculinity, he said, and “what’s masculine to us could be gay to people in New York. It’s as crazy as that”.

Speaking about the MeToo movement, he said women need to be heard and their stories believed. He also discussed his fears of being a single parent, depression, and why he will never be apologetic for his larger-than-life attitude and his love for shiny shoes.

BloombergQuint was the media partner for the event.

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