In a touching note about living with the elderly, the director opened up on his relationship with his parents, and how it shows through in his movies and life.
I cannot communicate with people who make their parents suffer: Karan Johar opens up on 'loving your parents'
Mumbai - 26 Jun 2018 14:00 IST
In a recent article for Hindustan Times against elderly abuse, Karan Johar wrote, "I cannot communicate with people who make their parents suffer. I made Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... (2001), with ‘It’s all about loving your parents’, as the tagline. That is my reality. My parents are my world. My life is about them."
As part of a series about the elderly abuse, the director's article focused on the relationship he shared with his parents, and how it has shaped his cinema. The article begins with Johar describing the effect the loss of his father, Yash Johar, in 2004 had on him. "My life has always revolved around my parents. They have always been my world, my universe. I am in my forties now and have never ever thought of living alone. I am the only child and we have been a strong unit of three members. When my father was diagnosed with cancer and I knew he was dying, I was shattered. I felt like the epicentre of that unit was crumbling."
This is why Karan is surprised when he hears about children fighting their parents, and taking them to court over property disputes. "I don’t want to be judgmental, but I cannot understand or imagine a life without my parents. They are the only ones who give us unconditional love." wrote the director.
This is not a surprise as Karan's films carry a strong underline of parent-child relationships. From his directorial debut in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), Johar established the type of the loving, modern parents who share a friendship with their children. This friendship has even carried on through his careers in films like Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003), Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (2006) or even My Name Is Khan (2010). Even in a film that was all about the new generation of youngsters, Student Of The Year (2012), Johar could not help but add the pivotal parental figure of Rishi Kapoor's principal who brings the warring friends together.
This does not mean that the director has not had his fights with his parents. Talking about his mother, Hiroo Johar, the director said, "We have our fights like all parents and children do, but each time we fight, I find myself crying. I don’t like to stress her out about anything. I cannot function on days that I’ve had a fight with her."
The director has not shied away from showing the fractious relationships between parents that can emerge through the relationship between Preity Zinta and Jaya Bachchan's character in Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003) or Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan's in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001). But, true to the type, these conflicts are usually resolved with love.
Despite having fights with his mother, and squabbles over little issues, the director admitted that he constantly worries about her illnesses. "I speak to her every four hours and if she doesn’t answer the phone, I start having the worst thoughts. If she wakes up late in the mornings, I worry and barge into her room. Each time she complains of chest pain, my first question is: is it the left side?" he wrote.
However, having adopted two babies, Roohi and Yash, Karan seems to have found himself on the other side of the fence. Wondering whether his children will share the same relationship as he did with his parents, the director wrote, "I may have to contend with the question of whether my children will have the same relationship with me as I have had with my parents. They are my children and I have to trust them with abandon. I hope they never take me to court – as so many are doing today – because that will be a big shock to my system."
With the statistics against elderly abuse growing rapidly, Karan pleaded: "Make it your duty, your responsibility. For me, it will always be, 'It’s all about loving your parents'."
After all, it is something Karan has based an entire career on.