When I picked up ‘An Unsuitable Boy’ a couple of days back, I didn’t know where I was heading. I scanned through the book, picked up excerpts randomly, flipped through the pictures and kept it back. What I noticed- a lot of rant, a trip to 90s flicks, SRK, Adi Chopra, Mom, Dad, London, NewYork….and yeah Kajol. There was a lot of judgment and prejudices about the book, and I am not surprised about that at all. Karan Johar himself has been a character who has already garnered quite a lot of incisiveness from his 20 years in the film industry. He has been a ‘subject’ several times and on several occasions. Whether it is his films, his personal life, his talk show, his friendships, AIB Roast or his much talked about sexual orientation, Karan Johar has quite literally experienced several shades of grey in his speck of life. In short, this book is all about that narcissistic rhetoric, that comes duly sprinkled with fun, ecstasy, curiosity, monotony, and calculable acquaintances.
First few pages of the book, and I hit on my first impression- this book talks to you, Karan Johar talks to you. The diction, tone, timber and choice of expression is an extended written version of ‘Talking with Karan’. To me, it worked well. It was as if you are actually listening him speak- simple, witty, vivacious, unclouded and brutally honest. The author didn’t mince words and may be he had never been more open before. His ‘in your face honesty’ strikes, actually baffles you at times !
The first half of the book is rather interesting. If you are someone who has grown up watching his movies and enjoyed fun expeditions with ‘Koffee With Karan’, these pages will offer you a feeling of deja vu !! His early life, parents, friends, days in school, how the debates in school gave him the much needed confidence, DDLJ, how he came close to SRK, Kajol and finally the story behind his debut ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’, is quite a read. Reading through these lines is nothing but fun and actually takes you on a trip down the memory lane. It does bring smile on your face ! The behind the scenes stories are always a good read, and in his limited opportunity Karan Johar has managed to bring about all the pieces together that he felt is worth a mention. Interestingly, he has been quite vivid, animated and unabashed about his vulnerabilities, insecurities and in-capabilities as a filmmaker. It would not be wrong to say that Karan Johar actually chose to stand bare and let people count his bones.
However, it is the second half of the book, which left me slightly disgruntled. By this time, I was expecting Mr. Johar to deliver a rather mature and deliberate content. Sadly, that didn’t happen. It was more of self indulgent attempt with plenty of ‘I’, ‘Me’ and ‘Myself’ saga. Karan Johar again stepped upon the mathematics of his relationship with SRK, his fallout with Kajol, his friendship with Aditya Chopra, his mom and his equations with people close in his life. Predictable and flows from the first half effortlessly, giving us an uninteresting overdose of melodrama. In one chapter he also became the harbinger of Bollywood predicting the days ahead. And, last of all, his tale on ‘Love’, ‘Sex’ and ‘Dhoka’. This section was an average read by all means, nothing new and appealing. It was as if he was again playing to the gallery, and expecting an ovation for putting everything into the paper, which I was sincerely not expecting from a man who have considerable credentials as a filmmaker.
Two whole chapters KJO dedicated to SRK and his irredeemable relationship with Kajol. “I don’t have any relationship with Kajol any more. We’ve had a fallout.” For once, I was assuming that it was a vent out, a rather public vent out. But then how important that was to engulf a whole chapter, well I have all my doubts. Again, understandably SRK plays a pivotal role in his life, but then a whole chapter ? On the contrary I would have loved to read some fleeting moments of their camaraderie well blended with some anecdotes of this time during film making, which would have given the readers some moments of copious emotions. I simply had a feel of “fir wahi baat (again the same thing)”, time and again.
Coming to the edits. I believe editing is one room in the book that didn’t get enough light. And, I would not shy away from saying that it is perhaps one of the aspects that is responsible for this debilitating narration. The editing ought have been more tight and that would have salvaged the narrative from becoming over dramatic, repetitive and monotonous, not once but in several outings.
If I get a chance to ask two questions to Karan Johar about this book, it would be:
- What was the hurry to float an autobiography so early….??
- Why the title ‘An Unsuitable Boy’?
I am yet to figure out answers to both of these. I personally feel there was no need for this hurry. Karan Johar has a voice and he must have used it in a better way than putting across stories about his own life, which I feel will lie inconsequential. It will fade away, it will not stay, not linger around and will reside in oblivion in days to come. Wonder what was the point ! It was as if he was seeking validation from the people about his life, work and mostly about his sexuality. No ? Then what, I wonder.
Furthermore, why ‘An Unsuitable boy’ ? I didn’t find anything unsuitable about his life. On the contrary, I guess on a larger note Mr. Johar is a nice person and has a wonderful life. But, if this title stems from his sexual orientation, then it is utterly ignominious, to say the least. If he is uncomfortable with his own skin and finds it unsuitable, I am left guessing what does he expects the people around him to do with it. “I have never talked about my sexual orientation or sexuality because whether I am heterosexual, homosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual, it is my concern. I refuse to talk about it.” Why Mr. Johar, have balls and speak up !! Sadly, you do everything under the sun to showcase your sexuality than speak up. Stop hiding under the garb of being a law abiding citizen and apolitical. Well, the very word ‘unsuitable’ is rather unsuitable and cringe worthy. It works as an endorsement to the fact that may be he himself is unsure, shaky and insecure about his sexuality. Oh Jesus !!
However, it would be tad unfair to dismiss this book completely touting it to be one of those fancy and frivolous attempts by a filmmaker to tell his story. His inner demons did resonate at times. “I want to have a child because I am afraid of growing old alone.” Debatable stance but humane and honest. As I said before, if there is anything in this book that stands tall, it is his honesty to touch upon and dissect some of the innate and vulnerable facts with absolutely no remorse. Will give it to him for that !!
‘An Unsuitable Boy’ is no classic. And, I hope Mr. Johar didn’t attempt to make it one. If he had (which I want to believe he hasn’t), he has failed miserably. But, if you are in one of those moods to gift yourself a light unassuming piece, and also someone who loves dancing to ‘bole chudiya…bole kangana…” and wouldn’t mind visiting those bygone lanes of 90s even now, this book is quite suitable. Go grab it and enjoy over a lazy weekend ! But if you don’t enjoy this genre, please don’t waste your time and money. You will not have an iota of regret, trust me !! As far as I am concerned, I am glad I didn’t have to croon half way through…. “Ae Book Hai Mushkil” 🙂
#Anunsuitableboy #KaranJohar #Bookreviewanunsuitableboy