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Karan Johar

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Karan Johar
Karan Johar filmfare.jpg
Johar at the 61st Filmfare Awards in 2016
Rahul Kumar Johar[1]

(1972-05-25) 25 May 1972 (age 48)
OccupationActor, director, producer, screenwriter, costume designer, television host
Years active1998–present
AwardsFull list
HonoursPadma Shri (2020)[2]
Karan Johar Signature.png

Karan Kumar Johar (born Rahul Kumar Johar, 25 May 1972),[1] often informally referred to as KJo,[3] is an Indian film director, producer, screenwriter, costume designer, actor and television personality who works in Hindi films.[4] He is the son of Hiroo Johar and the producer Yash Johar.

Johar made his directorial debut with the romantic comedy-drama Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), which earned him the Filmfare Award for Best Director and the Filmfare Award for Best Screenplay. His next films, the ensemble family melodrama Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... (2001) and the ensemble musical romantic drama Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (2006), were both very successful in the domestic and overseas market. His social drama My Name Is Khan (2010) earned him his second Filmfare Award for Best Director. The 2018 spy thriller Raazi won him Filmfare Award for Best Film. These, along with the several successful films he has produced under the Dharma Productions banner, have established him as one of the leading director-producers in Hindi cinema.

Johar has also ventured successfully into other avenues of the entertainment industry. He hosts a television talk show, Koffee with Karan, a dating show What the Love! and a radio show Calling Karan, and appeared as a judge on competition reality shows Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, India's Got Talent, India's Next Superstars.

In 2020, he was conferred with the Padma Shri award, the fourth-highest civilian honour of India.[5]

Early and personal life

Johar was born in Mumbai, India to film producer Yash Johar, founder of Dharma Productions and Hiroo Johar. He has Punjabi Hindu ancestry from his father's side, and Sindhi Hindu ancestry from his mother's side.[6][7] He studied at the Greenlawns High School.[8] After Greenlawns, he attended H.R. College of Commerce and Economics,[9] both in Bombay (now Mumbai).

Johar started his career in entertainment industry as an actor, he played the role of Shrikant in the 1989 Doordarshan Serial Indradhanush. As a child, he was influenced by commercial Indian cinema: He cites Raj Kapoor, Yash Chopra and Sooraj R. Barjatya as his inspirations.[10][11] For a time, Johar followed numerology, creating film titles in which the first word and a number of others in the title began with the letter K. After watching the 2006 film, Lage Raho Munna Bhai which was critical of numerology, Johar decided to stop this practice.[12]

Discussing his sexual orientation, Johar said "Everybody knows what my sexual orientation is. I don't need to scream it out. If I need to spell it out, I won't only because I live in a country where I could possibly be jailed for saying this".[13] In February 2017, Johar became father to twins (a boy and a girl) through surrogacy.[14] The twins were born at Masrani Hospital in Mumbai. Johar named his son Yash – after his father; and his daughter Roohi – rearranged from his mother's name Hiroo.[15][16]

Film career


Karan Johar entered the film industry as an assistant director on Aditya Chopra's Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), which is regarded as a landmark in Hindi cinema.[17] He then made his own directorial debut with the romantic comedy-drama Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998). The first half of the film centers on a college love triangle between an insensitive boy (Shah Rukh Khan), his tomboyish best friend (Kajol), and the prettiest girl at the college (Rani Mukerji), while the second half centers on the now-widowed boy's attempt to reconnect with his best friend who is now engaged to marry another man (Salman Khan). The film became a major blockbuster at the box office and received positive reviews from critics. Writing for Planet Bollywood, critic Anish Khanna commented that "Karan Johar makes an impressive directorial debut, has a good script sense, and knows how to make a film with S-T-Y-L-E."[18] It won the National Film Award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment. It swept most of the major awards at the 44th Filmfare Awards, including Best Film, Best Director, and all four acting awards.

Karan Johar with Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol at a film promotional event.

Johar's next directorial venture was the ensemble family melodrama Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... (2001). The film starred Amitabh Bachchan as an egotistical rich industrialist, Jaya Bachchan as his compassionate wife, and Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan as their two sons. It also featured Kajol and Kareena Kapoor as sisters from a lower-class family who become the love interests of Khan and Roshan respectively. The film became Johar's second major blockbuster at the box office and received positive reviews from critics. Critic Taran Adarsh commented that Johar "confirms the fact that he is the brightest in film firmament. The premise [of the film] is simple, but it is the storytelling that deserves the highest marks."[19]

Johar's third directorial venture was the ensemble musical romantic drama Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (2006), which dealt with the controversial subject of marital infidelity against the backdrop of non-resident Indians living in New York City. The film's plot follows a washed-up athlete (Shah Rukh Khan), whose frustration with his wife (Preity Zinta) results in an extramarital affair with a family friend (Rani Mukerji), a schoolteacher who is also unhappy with her marriage to her childhood friend (Abhishek Bachchan). The film was a major success in India and an even larger success overseas. It received highly positive reviews from critics who praised Johar's departure from the directorial style of his first two films. Rajeev Masand wrote, "Few writers have such solid control over their screenplay as Karan Johar does. Few understand the intricacies of narrative as well as he does. Johar goes from highs to lows, from plateaus to peaks with the ease of a pro. He knows exactly how to turn a seemingly ordinary scene into something special with just that one line of dialogue, or that hint of background music."[20] The script of the film which was co-written by Johar received recognition by a number of critics and was invited to be included in the library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Johar's fourth directorial venture was the social drama My Name Is Khan (2010), his first film not written by him. The plot follows a Muslim man with Asperger's syndrome and his Hindu wife, played by Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol, who live in San Francisco and face racial prejudice after 11 September attacks. The film became a major commercial success, and received rave reviews from critics who praised Johar's unconventional directorial style. Critic Subhash K. Jha wrote that the film "is a flawless work, as perfect in content, tone, and treatment as any film can get."[21] The film won Johar his second Filmfare Award for Best Director.

For his next feature film Student of the Year (2012), Johar chose not to cast established actors for his lead roles and instead recruited three debutante actors (Sidharth Malhotra, Varun Dhawan, and Alia Bhatt). The plot revolved around the quest of a group of students who are all gunning for the title of "Student of the Year" at their college. The film was a moderate commercial success and received mixed reviews from critics. Some called it "supremely entertaining and enjoyable,"[22] while others called it "a film which suffers from the lack-of-a-story syndrome."[23]

Johar then teamed up with Zoya Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap, and Dibakar Banerjee for Bombay Talkies (2013), an anthology film released to celebrate the centenary year of Hindi cinema. Each of the directors made one short film to contribute to the large anthology. The plot of Johar's film followed a magazine editor (Rani Mukerji) who discovers that her husband (Randeep Hooda) is gay after an interaction with an intern at her office (Saqib Saleem). The film did not perform very well at the box office but earned positive reviews from critics.

Johar's next directorial venture was the romantic drama film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016). The film featured Ranbir Kapoor as a man dealing with an unrequited love for his best friend, played by Anushka Sharma. It also featured Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as an older woman who engages in a brief relationship with Kapoor's character and Fawad Khan as the love interest of Sharma's character. The film emerged as a commercial success and received mixed to positive reviews from critics, who called it "Johar's most grown-up movie yet."[24]

Johar teamed up again with Zoya Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap, and Dibakar Banerjee for Lust Stories (2018), an anthology film released on Netflix that served as a follow-up to Bombay Talkies. The film was praised for its exploration of female sexuality, a subject rarely dealt with in Indian films. Johar's segment revolved around a newly married schoolteacher (Kiara Advani) whose husband (Vicky Kaushal) fails to recognize her lack of sexual satisfaction.

On 11 August 2018, Johar took to Twitter to announce his next film Takht, a period drama based in the Mughal era, which will feature an ensemble star cast including Ranveer Singh, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Alia Bhatt, Vicky Kaushal, Bhumi Pednekar, Janhvi Kapoor and Anil Kapoor.[25] With a screenplay by Sumit Roy, dialogues by Hussain Haidry & music composed by A. R. Rahman, this will be the second film directed by Johar that he has not written himself.[26] In an interview with Firstpost, Johar stated that Takht would begin filming in September 2019.[27]


Johar's directorial work (with the exception of anthology films Bombay Talkies, Lust Stories and Ghost Stories) has been produced under the Dharma Productions banner, founded by his father Yash Johar and taken over by him after his father's death in 2004. In addition to his own directorial work, he has produced several films by other directors under the Dharma banner. Many of these films have become major successes including Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003), Dostana (2008), I Hate Luv Storys (2010), Agneepath (2012), Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013), 2 States (2014), Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania (2014), Kapoor & Sons (2016), Dear Zindagi (2016), Badrinath Ki Dulhania (2017), Raazi (2018), Dhadak (2018), and Simmba (2018).


In addition to working as an assistant director on Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), Johar was an actor in the film, playing the minor role of a friend of Shah Rukh Khan’s character. Since then, he has made cameo appearances playing himself in films like Om Shanti Om (2007), Fashion (2008), and Luck by Chance (2009).

He made his full-fledged acting debut alongside Ranbir Kapoor and Anushka Sharma in Anurag Kashyap’s period drama Bombay Velvet (2015), in which he played the main antagonist. Although the film did not perform well at the box office, Johar earned some appreciation for his performance. Critic Sarita A. Tanwar commented, "The only consolation in the film is Karan Johar who brings a lot of dignity to the character of Khambatta... which is commendable since this is totally outside his comfort space."[28]

Ileana D'Cruz, Karan Johar, Nimrat Kaur at 'KJO For Gehna' line by Karan Johar

Costume designer

Johar has worked as a costume designer for Shah Rukh Khan on many films like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), Dil To Pagal Hai (1997), Duplicate (1998), Mohabbatein (2000), Main Hoon Na (2004), Veer-Zaara (2004), and Om Shanti Om (2007).


Johar was the host of Koffee with Karan, a talk show where he interviewed actors, directors, producers, and other prominent members of the Hindi film industry. The series ran intermittently between 2004 to 2019, with six seasons as of June 2020.

Since 2012, he has served as a judge on the reality shows Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa (with Madhuri Dixit and Remo D’Souza), India's Got Talent (with Malaika Arora Khan, Kirron Kher, and Farah Khan) and India's Next Superstars (with Rohit Shetty).[29]



Show Role Channel
Koffee with Karan Host Star World
Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa Judge Colors TV
India's Got Talent
India's Next Superstars Star Plus
Dil Hai Hindustani
What the Love Host Netflix[30]


Year Film Director Producer Writer Notes
1998 Kuch Kuch Hota Hai Yes Yes 8 Filmfare Awards
National Film Award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment
2001 Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham Yes Yes 5 Filmfare awards
2003 Kal Ho Naa Ho Yes Yes 8 Filmfare awards
2 National Film Awards
2005 Kaal Yes Co-produced with Red Chillies Entertainment
2006 Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna Yes Yes Yes 1 Filmfare award
2008 Dostana Yes
2009 Kurbaan Yes
Wake Up Sid Yes 3 Filmfare awards
2010 My Name Is Khan Yes Yes Yes 3 Filmfare awards
I Hate Luv Storys Yes Co-produced with UTV Motion Pictures
We Are Family Yes Co-produced with Sony Pictures
1 Filmfare award
2012 Agneepath Yes Remake of Agneepath (1990)
Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu Yes 1 Filmfare award
Student of the Year Yes Yes Yes Co-produced with Red Chillies Entertainment
2013 Bombay Talkies Yes Yes Segment: "Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Yeh"
Gippi Yes
Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani Yes
Gori Tere Pyaar Mein Yes
2014 Hasee Toh Phasee Yes Co-produced with Phantom Films
2 States Yes Co-produced with Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment
Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania Yes
Ungli Yes
2015 All India Bakchod Knockout Yes
Brothers Yes Co-produced with Lions Gate Entertainment and Endemol India
Shaandaar Yes Co-produced with Phantom Films
2016 Kapoor & Sons Yes 5 Filmfare Awards
Baar Baar Dekho Yes Co-Produced with Excel Entertainment and Eros International
Ae Dil Hai Mushkil Yes Yes Yes 4 Filmfare Awards
Dear Zindagi Yes Co-produced with Red Chillies Entertainment
2017 Ok Jaanu Yes Co-Produced with Madras Talkies
Badrinath Ki Dulhania Yes 1 Filmfare Award
Ittefaq Yes Co-produced with Red Chillies Entertainment
2018 Lust Stories Yes Yes Segment 4
Raazi Yes Co-produced with Junglee Pictures
Dhadak Yes
Simmba Yes
2019 Kesari[31] Yes
Kalank Yes Co-produced with Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment and Fox Star Studios
Student of the Year 2 Yes
Drive Yes
Good Newwz Yes Co-produced with Cape of Good Films
2020 Ghost Stories Yes Yes An anthology film, consisting of four short film segments directed by him, Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, and Zoya Akhtar
Sooryavanshi Yes Co-produced with Reliance Entertainment, Rohit Shetty Pictures and Cape of Good Films
Brahmastra[32] Yes Co-produced with Fox Star Studios and Namit Malhotra

As an actor

Year Film Role Notes
1989 Indradhanush Srikanth Television series
1995 Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge Rocky Also assistant director
2003 Kal Ho Naa Ho Customer in the café (uncredited)
2005 Home Delivery: Aapko... Ghar Tak Himself (cameo)
2006 Alag Himself (Cameo) in the song "Sabse Alag"
2007 Salaam-e-Ishq Himself (voice)
Om Shanti Om Himself (cameo)
2008 C Kkompany Himself/Game show host (cameo)
Fashion Himself (cameo)
2009 Luck by Chance Himself (cameo)
2014 Hasee Toh Phasee Client
2015 Shamitabh Himself (Cameo)
Bombay Velvet Kaizad Khambatta Feature film debut
Shaandaar Himself (cameo)[33]
2018 Welcome To New York Karan/Arjun
Simmba In Dance number (Cameo) in the song "Aankh Maarey"
2019 Good Newwz Himself (Cameo) in the song "Chandigarh Mein"

Awards and honours


  1. ^ a b Basu, Nilanjana (16 December 2018). "Koffee With Karan 6: Ayushmann Khurrana, Vicky Kaushal Discover Karan Johar Was Originally Named As..." NDTV. NDTV Convergence Limited. Retrieved 16 December 2018.
  2. ^ "Padma Awards 2020". Ministry of Home Affairs (Govt. of India). Retrieved 27 April 2020.
  3. ^ "KJo meets Kareena on sets of Heroine". Retrieved 8 June 2012.
  4. ^ Karan Johar opens up about his sexuality, virginity and Shah Rukh Khan in his new book
  5. ^ "Padma Shri for Ekta Kapoor, Karan Johar, Kangana Ranaut and Adnan Sami". India Today. Ist. Retrieved 26 January 2020.
  6. ^ "Leading actresses are paranoid as parents: Karan Johar". Hindustan Times. 30 June 2017. Archived from the original on 5 July 2017. Retrieved 7 May 2020. I was half Punjabi and Sindhi, so food was a big part of our daily life.
  7. ^ "An Unsuitable Boy: Overview". Penguin India. Archived from the original on 28 July 2019. Retrieved 7 May 2020. Baring all for the first time in his autobiography, An Unsuitable Boy, KJo reminisces about his childhood, the influence of his Sindhi mother and Punjabi father, obsession with Bollywood, foray into films, friendships with Aditya Chopra, SRK and Kajol, his love life, the AIB Roast, and much more.
  8. ^ Majumdar, Anushree (16 October 2016). "P.O.W. director Nikkhil Advani: I will take a position but I don't want to become a jingoist". The Indian Express. Indian Express Limited. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  9. ^ "Karan Johar goes back to college". 22 September 2009. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  10. ^ Nandy, Pritish (9 December 1998). "'All the women I meet keep telling me how much they cried in the film! That's what made it a hit, I guess.'". Rediff.Com. Retrieved 6 March 2008.
  11. ^ V S Srinivasan (15 October 1998). "'I'm a little scared'". Rediff.Com. Retrieved 6 March 2008.
  12. ^ Khan, Rubina A (7 October 2006). "Karan to drop letter K". The Times of India.
  13. ^ "Karan Johar on being gay: Everybody knows what my sexual orientation is". 8 January 2017.
  14. ^ Monica Varma (9 December 1998). "Karan Johar becomes father to TWINS through surrogacy!". Zoom (TV channel). Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  15. ^ "Alia Bhatt to Priyanka Chopra: Celebrities Congratulate Karan Johar on Becoming a Father". News18. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
  16. ^ "Bollywood showers blessings on Karan Johar's twins". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
  17. ^ "Karan Johar's excited and we have 'mentor' Aditya Chopra to thank". Hindustan Times. 27 September 2015. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  18. ^ Khanna, Anish (16 October 1998). "Film Review: Kuch Kuch Hota Hai". Planet Bollywood. Archived from the original on 13 August 2012. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
  19. ^ Adarsh, Taran (11 December 2001). "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham". Bollywood Hungama. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
  20. ^ Masand, Rajeev (29 April 2010). "Masand's Verdict: Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna". IBN Live. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
  21. ^ Jha, Subhash K (13 February 2010). "Hug your neighbor, watch My Name Is Khan!". Times of India. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
  22. ^ Nahta, Komal (19 October 2012). "STUDENT OF THE YEAR Review". Komal Nahta's Blog. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
  23. ^ Bhattacharya, Ananya (1 December 2012). "'Student of the Year' review: Watch out for the newcomers' infectious charm!". Zee News. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
  24. ^ Bhave, Nihit (28 October 2016). "Ae Dil Hai Mushkil Movie Review". Times of India. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  25. ^ "Takht is about 2 warring brothers, expect K3G of Mughal era: Karan Johar on Ranveer Singh, Kareena Kapoor film". 10 August 2018. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  26. ^ "Takht: Karan Johar ropes in Alia Bhatt, Ranveer Singh, Janhvi Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor and others for his next directorial". The Indian Express. 9 August 2018. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  27. ^ "Karan Johar on deciding against directing Kalank, Student of the Year 2, and why it's too late to be in a relationship". Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  28. ^ Tanwar, Sarita A (16 May 2015). "'Bombay Velvet' review: Despite earnest performances, the film somehow gets derailed". DNA India. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
  29. ^ "Karan Johar, Rohit Shetty to judge a new talent show". DNA. Chaya Unnikrishnan. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  30. ^ Staff, Scroll. "Karan Johar to host dating show 'What the Love?' on Netflix". Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  31. ^ "Karan Johar and Akshay Kumar's Battle of Saragarhi film to be titled Kesari". Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  32. ^ "Brahmastra: Amitabh Bachchan, Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt's new trilogy". Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  33. ^ Thakker, Namrata (13 November 2014). "Karan Johar's acting again!". Daily News and Analysis. Retrieved 13 November 2014.

External links