Karan Dharma Kama Johar, popularly known as Karan Johar or KJo, was born in Mumbai on 25 May, 1972. He studied at the Green Lawns High School and later went on to complete a Master’s degree in French from the H R College of Commerce and Economics. As the son of notable producer Yash Johar, he grew up surrounded by the magic of filmmaking and was deeply influenced by the movies of Yash Chopra, Raj Kapoor and later, Sooraj R. Barjatya. Johar began his career as an assistant director on Aditya Chopra’s landmark feature Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge
(1995). Following this experience, he was inspired to script and direct his own film. At the young age of 25, he made a sensational directorial debut with Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
(1998). The Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol starrer hit the box office with a bang and not only became the highest grossing film of the year, but also became a trendsetter, popularizing Gap sweatshirts and friendship bands. It won him the National Film Award, and two Filmfare Awards for Best Director and Best Screenplay. Karan Johar’s interest in familial relationships is evident in all his films, whether it is the father-son and sibling relationships in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham
(2001) or the tribulations of marriage in Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna
(2006). The family drama fast became his forte. Friendship turning to love, romantic love conflicting with family ties and elaborate song and dance sequences became the hallmarks of a Karan Johar film. In 2010, Johar delved into newer territory with the counter-terrorism drama My Name is Khan
(2010). The film opened to rave reviews as it marked the beginning of a transformation in the director’s sensibility. It also won him the Filmfare Award for the Best Director. However, it was his brave short film for the anthology film Bombay Talkies
(2013) that truly came as a revelation. He surprised audiences and contemporaries with a mature and nuanced portrayal of homosexuality and marriage in a conscious move away from his conventional style.
While Johar is known for his meteoric rise as a director, his role as a producer is no less significant. Following his father’s death in 2004, Johar started to focus more on expanding the repertoire of his production company. Apart from Johar’s own films, Dharma Productions has produced blockbusters like Kal Ho Naa Ho
(2008), Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani
(2013) and 2 States
In 2004, the multi-talented Johar also ventured into television as the host of what has become one of India’s most watched talk shows, Koffee with Karan. The show made Karan Johar a household name. His interviews of celebrated film personalities, from forthcoming stars to media-shy actors and directors, have been controversial and highly entertaining.
As an actor, Johar has made cameo appearances in various films from his most famous role as ‘Ponchy’ in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (1995) to Om Shanti Om (2007), Fashion (2008) and Luck by Chance (2009). In Anurag Kashyap’s Bombay Velvet (2015) he took on a more substantial role as a villain.
One of the country’s most influential and dynamic filmmakers, Karan Johar’s name is inextricable from Indian cinema today. His films have not only reflected popular culture but also shaped it. His understanding of his audience, his control over his screenplays, his use of an actor’s potential, and his own charismatic personality make him highly sought after and nearly emblematic of the industry itself. His most recent production, Kapoor & Sons (2016) was a huge success, and the talented filmmaker continues to make many more contemporary and relevant movies.