05 Feb 2023

German fans made us forget about crisis: Karan

Berlin Shah Rukh Khan's innumerable German fans slept all night on the street outside the superstar's hotel in Berlin in minus 10 degrees cold and snow and kept singing "Om Jai Jagadish Hare" and the "Jana Gana Mana" in the hope of a darshan, says Karan Johar, the director of "My Name is Khan". "When Shah Rukh went and met them, they went home warm. And so did we. For that short while, when I saw all that love come towards us, I forgot about the crisis (back in India over the movie)," Karan Johar told IANS in an interview here. Karan Johar is in Berlin with Shah Rukh and Kajol for the red carpet premiere of "My Name is Khan" at the Berlinale Palast. The film is in the official selection of the Berlin International Film Festival. Karan Johar was in a dilemma being at Berlin during the crisis in Mumbai over the film's release. "We had an old commitment to be at Berlin. It is a credible festival and a great platform," said Karan. "Also, both Shah Rukh and I believe that when you disappoint people who really love you, there's bad payback. So we came here for the unconditional love of our German and European fans - you would be hard put to find such love outside our continent. We felt that though it is critical in Mumbai, we will manage. "We shall overcome - like in my films." Hollywood major Fox, which is distributing the film, is hoping it will also appeal to an American, non-NRI audience. "I did not plan the film specially to appeal to the US, I just hope they are interested in an issue that is relevant," Karan explains. "I don't know if I've got the syntax right, as they are used to a different kind of film in America. 'My Name is Khan' is in a cinematic space between two worlds. It is neither a standard Bollywood film, nor a big American studio film." After making films on solid family values, Karan Johar is sticking his neck out with a love story layered with politics and religion. "There were two reasons for this. I wanted to challenge myself," Johar told IANS. "Secondly, I've always been labelled as a bubblegum, candyfloss, NRI filmmaker all my life, so I was feeling defiant. It's not good, because a film should be for art, and not to prove a point. But I'd be na?ve if I said I wasn't trying to prove a point." As Bollywood films go international and absorb more elements of world cinema, are they in danger of losing traditional Bollywood elements? "No. Our biggest overseas audience will always be the diaspora. The rest is cherry on the cake. But let's say we never ran away from the crust." In "My Name is Khan", Shah Rukh Khan goes on a journey in America to meet the president of America, to tell him 'My Name is Khan and I am not a terrorist". (Meenakshi Shedde is India Consultant to the Berlin film festival and curator to film festivals worldwide. She can be reached at [email protected])