An Unsuitable Boy - Book Review
Updated: Jul 12, 2020
The most celebrated Hindi movies like Kuchh Kucch hota hai, Kabhie Khushi Kabhie Gam, Kabhie Alvida na Kehna have always fascinated me. Now that I am an adult, I understand the things that went wrong in some of the blockbusters. But I still love these movies because I have a teenage connection to them though I understand the stereotypical aspects of them now. Anyway, I have read an autobiography of the maker of these films, Karan Johar. It is called ‘ An Unsuitable Boy’.
I was in the second year of my college when Karan Johar launched his autobiography “An unsuitable boy”. When I read the reviews, I wanted to read this book so badly. In reviews, I saw that there are backstories about the films, casts and songs. I remember expressing my wish to read this book to my hostel roommates and it was almost my birthday, so they took this opportunity and gifted me the same book. I got excited and read 25% of the book and I don’t remember what happened but I DNF this book. ( DNF means Did not finish! It is just a fancy acronym readers use.) It was there in collection. Now that I have time, I decided to give it a read.
The book is written by Karan himself along with Poonam Saxena. I would say, it’s an autobiography full of confessions and candid feelings. The language is not so bookish. So many ‘like’, and ‘you know’ are used. It is written in general English that we use to talk in day-to-day life. There are consecutive sentences which start with the same word. So, if you have really big standards for book language, this book isn’t for you. It was okay for me because I enjoy the candidness at the cost of very simple language.
This book has chapters named after different phases of Johar’s life. The first chapter is about his childhood in which he has talked about his childhood fears, insecurities and the kind of child he was. Karan, being a single child went through loneliness for a long time. He didn’t even have many friends. This affected him a lot.
Then there’s a chapter about his school and college life followed by his first break into the industry as an assistant director for “Dilwale Dulhaniya le jayenge”. From his school and college chapter, I really loved the narration of an incident that changed his life forever that is winning a first prize for his school in debate competition.
Then there are chapters related to making iconic films like Kuchh Kuchh hota hai, Kabhie Khushi Kabhie Gham,etc. While doing all things, Johar had a strong back of his parents and his friends. There were incidents where he was afraid to take chances but his friends always stood by him. This autobiography also holds a chapter dedicated to Karan’s friends and his fallout with some of them. It was really strange for me to read such friendship stories. When we look at the media reports, they always show the other side of the story such as fights, rumors, fallout, etc. We never know what exactly happened and we easily believe what surfaces on the internet.
When two people are so close, when they have done six feature films together and then they haven't worked on the set for a while, there's bound to be a gap. That's the way industry is.
- Karan Johar on his friendship with SRK
The moment of Karan’s father’s death made me realize how vulnerable we all are. No matter what status you hold, at the end of the day you are human. You have emotions. You get anxious and depressed. Whatever we common people go through emotionally, celebrities go through that too, in fact, even more. Because there’s a whole pressure on them to always look happy and shiny.
That's what happens when lives go, you cannot believe it. Death is such finality. In the end you just amount to dust. Bones and dust.
Taking over Dharma after his father’s death wasn’t easy for Karan and that time, his friend Apoorva came to his help who was well settled abroad. This is the power of friendship. Then there’s a whole chapter on SRK, Shah Rukh Khan, which shows how strong their bond is. As you move forward in the book, it has stories about recent movies like student of the year, ye Dil Hai Mushkil and his TV show Koffee with Karan. The last chapter of this book talks about Bollywood in today’s time.
What I loved about this book?
The candidness is the first thing that I loved about this book. It is really tough to talk about your failures, fears and insecurities. When you are a celebrity, it’s a big No-No. Karan did not try to get any validation or approval or sympathy from any of the readers.
There’s a really different perspective of things in this book such as success, fame, friendship, relationships etc. I loved this other side of everything.
The focus is on story instead of the language. I was connected to the story. I have built the sense of knowing the narrator better.
I was expecting only gossips through this book, but it has much more to offer. There are emotional incidents, happy moments, and some really fun stuff.
I personally enjoyed the journey because we always see celebrities as big shot people who can buy whatever they want and who always get love from their fans. But this book truly shows the other side of the industry. You get engaged with the story from the very first page but there’s some repetitiveness in between. But I have benchmarked the candidness of this book for the autobiography. I feel that this book would have been a real gem if it was written after the birth of Yash and Roohi, Karan's kids.
If you are someone who has always watched Dharma movies, a fan of KJo’s work, loves his toodles, has a lot of interest in Koffee with Karan’s episodes, and wants to know more about Johar’s personality, you should pick this book. I won’t say that it’s a life-changing book but it’s a good and breezy read. If you have gone through some really tough and heavy reads, you can read this book.
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