Filmmaker Karan Johar avoided the use of the word “nepotism” — a topic that had sparked a roaring debate in Bollywood two years ago — at the trailer launch of Dhadak, which marks the debut of the late actress Sridevi’s daughter Janhvi Kapoor and Ishaan Khatter. He says the talents — irrespective of their family name — work hard to be where they are.
Johar has launched a slew of celebrity children in Bollywood — from Alia Bhatt to Varun Dhawan and Ananya Pandey.
At the trailer launch, Johar was asked what are the things he has to keep in mind when he makes films with such talents, who come with a film background.
He said: “That they grow beyond their name and make their own identity. I think that is our responsibility and their responsibility.
“These days people focus more on names rather than the talent, but they tend to forget that one puts a lot of hard work, heart, dedication, discipline and mental preparation to face the camera, the audience and the media… It is not easy, really. It is difficult.”
Without mentioning the term “nepotism”, which had become widely used when actress Kangana Ranaut accused Johar of being a “flagbearer of nepotism” two years ago, he said: “We always use a tag… Like a word of the season. I know that word (nepotism) was doing around for last two years and I am again perhaps encouraging the same concept… But I will not utter the word. But I want to say, they are not here because of that word, but because of their hard work.”
Asked what made him choose Kapoor and Khatter for the film Dhadak, a remake of the hit Marathi film Sairat, Johar said: “The story is about an innocent love story. To bring such innocence on-screen, I needed first-time talent.”
He said Khatter first struck him while he was judging a TV show with the actor’s stepbrother Shahid Kapoor.
“I was judging a show with Shahid where Ishaan happened to meet him on the set. So I just saw Ishaan and got a glimpse of a certain body language, expression and personality. So, I instinctively decided on him.
“I think Manish Malhotra is the fashion father of Janhvi. He knows her for a long time. He used to keep talking about her so much that I felt like I knew her even before meeting her. Then I went to meet her family where I saw her. Then later when I met her personally, I saw her potential to be on-screen and saw that spark and excitement,” said Johar.
Directed by Shashank Khaitan, Dhadak is releasing on July 20.