‘Dostana’ has a subtle message on homosexuality: Karan Johar (Interview)

November 16th, 2008 - 9:12 am ICT by IANS  

Karan JoharMumbai, Nov 16 (IANS) Filmmaker Karan Johar says his “Dostana” is as brave a film as “Brokeback Mountain” and that he has moved beyond the “bubblegum cinema” tag. He stresses that the Abhishek-Bachchan-John Abraham starrer, despite being a comedy, puts out a “subtle message on homosexuality”.”I’m asked if our actors can do ‘Brokeback Mountain’. Well, Abhishek and John have done ‘Dostana’. It’s an equally brave film,” Karan told IANS in an interview.

He admits that it was courageous of Abhishek and John to sign up for the gay comedy by director Tarun Mansukhani.

“It’s very brave of Abhishek and John to put themselves into this gay situation and not be embarrassed or be self-conscious. They’ve given 300 percent of themselves without flinching,” Karan said.

Though an out-and-out comedy, the producers say the film “isn’t just about gay jokes”.

“It definitely puts out a subtle message on homosexuality.”

And what about John’s skin show?

“He’s got the body, why not flaunt it? If you’ve a beautiful house don’t you invite guests to see it? If you’ve made a film you’re proud of, don’t you want audiences to watch it? If John has a great body why not show it?”

Excerpts from the interview to IANS:

Q. From loving the family to loving your friend…quite a leap, huh?

A. At the end of it, it’s all about loving. Whom you love and how is a personal choice. You’ve a right to choose whom you love. “Dostana” addresses itself in a comic way to the individual’s right to choose. And I fully believe in that.

Q. Your friends and family watched the film earlier this week. Their reactions?

A. Trial shows are superb indications of what’s to come. Much preferable than premieres which I never have. I called the people I love. Some loved “Dostana”, others hated it. I take neither praise nor criticism to heart.

Q. What did your mom think of “Dostana” and its gay jokes?

A. My mom loved it. Because she loves me and my director Tarun Mansukhani. Also because she was amused. She’s a happy person. And she likes happy films. “Dostana” is a happy film…Happy and gay.

Q. Are you delighted by the way people have taken to Abhishek and John’s gay jokes?

A. I’ve to say this. It’s very brave of Abhishek and John to put themselves into this gay situation and not be embarrassed or be self-conscious. They’ve given 300 percent of themselves without flinching. More power in the industry to this kind of positive thinking.

More than myself I’m delighted for my director Tarun Mansukhani. He has been with us from the start. He’s a funny guy. And the film isn’t just about gay jokes. It definitely puts out a subtle message on homosexuality.

Q. Which is?

A. I think the whole question of gay acceptance is prevalent all over the world. It’s just a myth that in the West people accept homosexuality more readily than they do here. I feel the gay community should be given the respect it deserves. “Dostana” is a funny though not offensive take on the issue.

Nowhere does the film offend people of any sexual orientation. We’ve treated the theme with great dignity. We’ve taken homosexuality to an amusing level, but not at the cost dignity. I do believe audiences are far more evolved than we give them credit for.

Q. Do you think you can swing it?

A. I’m asked if our actors can do “Brokeback Mountain”. Well, Abhishek and John have done “Dostana”. It’s an equally brave film.

Q. Did you ever feel it could backfire?

A. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I didn’t just want to push the envelope I wanted to tear it. Even my “Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna” pushed the envelope. I made a Rs.50 crore (Rs.500 million) film on infidelity. Now I’ve made a Rs.50 crore film with homosexual overtones. Anyone who calls me a bubblegum filmmaker now needs a serious reality check.

Q. What about John’s skin show?

A. It goes with the film’s mood. Any exposure out of context is vulgar. If you saw “Dhoom 2″, everyone wore minimalist clothes because they were in Rio. My characters in “Dostana” are in Miami. It’s the partying capital of the world. My trio exudes a sex appeal in their body exposure. I think Priyanka and John are highly aesthetic in their beachwear.

Q. John has exposed more skin than any other leading man.

A. He’s got the body, why not flaunt it? If you’ve a beautiful house don’t you invite guests to see it? If you’ve made a film you’re proud of, don’t you want audiences to watch it? If John has a great body why not show it?

Q. You’ve proved your power as a filmmaker by marketing “Dostana” so well.

A. There’s no such thing as a powerful filmmaker. There’s only a powerful film. All of us filmmakers are sailing in the same boat. I’d like to say Tarun Mansukhani is the real star of “Dostana”.

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