You know, Mr Johar, I’d initially thought you’d handled yourself well on your show with Kangana Ranaut, especially for someone who was accused of nepotism and manufacturing scandal for benefit. You apologised (though it was qualified) and seemed to actually give your guest the chance to challenge you on her own terms. It was unexpected.
Well, thanks for not letting that unfamiliar feeling last too long.
Yesterday, when the story broke that you’d walked back that apology, and accused Kangana Ranaut of playing the victim and the ‘woman card’, I felt some relief. No more cognitive dissonance. You were, in fact, the ‘Uncle’ we knew you to be. After all, you were the same man who’d been “hurt” when a female actor asked for equal pay.
On the show, you had laughed, and apologised if you’d done what Kangana said you’d had done; and then when asked about it on another platform, pulled the rug out from under her.
A powerful man who produces, directs and occasionally acts in films in one of the largest movie industries in the world cannot tell an actor in the same industry to her face that he disagrees with her? You need to pander to her on your own show, and then stick a knife in her back a few weeks later?
This isn’t new to women in any industry, really—that they’re applauded in one room, while being derided by the same people in another. Strong vocal women especially: They’re used to being talked about behind their backs; they know you do it that way because then they can’t call you out on your hypocrisy.
But you didn’t stop there, did you? You didn’t just say you disagreed with her, which would have at least been a matter of opinion.
You told the world she was playing the victim. You told the world she was playing the woman card. Hmm, where have we heard that before? Only everywhere. Every woman who has ever complained about anything ever in a work environment has heard that. It has been whispered about her in the corridors, at the water fountain, at HR meetings…
We’ve all had to deal with being accused of being *gasp* women. But it’s not the insult you think it is.
You know, I watched that episode. She said she’d become who she was, and made her way in the industry inspite of you and your coterie. She said she grew, she taught herself how to speak “appropriately”, how to behave, because you made fun of her. She said you were the villain in the story of her life, but she never called herself a victim. Because she’s not a victim: She survived the nonsense the industry threw at her and won national awards, carried movies, and inspired millions of women.
Now, can we talk about the nepotism thing? You were part of the AIB roast a couple of years ago, and you were more than happy to let those guys take potshots at you about nepotism. But it’s suddenly so very hurtful and “false” when Kangana calls you out on it? Where did your self-awareness go? Or does it hurt more because a woman who didn’t need you in order to succeed called you out on it? Better face it, the only reason it hurts so much—the reason you aren’t able to shrug it off—is because it’s true. The very fact that you have to list the few people you have supported who aren’t related to you or your friends—that’s telling.
We’ve all made mistakes.
Not all of us get called out on it in the public eye, but that doesn’t reduce the truth. You have been nepotistic. The only reason you don’t seem to be able to accept it is because you don’t like the manner in which you were called out, or the messenger. Well, screw that.
The worst thing you said at the LSE event, though, was something that’s insidious about the patriarchy. That Kangana should leave the industry if she didn’t like the way it worked. If you can’t lump it, leave it. If women thought that way, we wouldn’t have made it anywhere in any battle. Over the past many decades, we’ve chosen NOT to lump it. We’ve fought against that mentality, the idea that work is a choice for women. To tell Kangana she should give up everything she has fought for because he doesn’t agree with her is the worst thing any man in a position of power could have ever said. You only reiterated what she’s been telling you all along: You are the villain in her story.
You have the power in this situation. You are a man in a world that thinks being a man automatically makes you better. You come from privilege, both in wealth and in family connections. You are the ultimate insider. Examine those privileges, and be honest with yourself, if not the world. You can do better when you interact with people who don’t have those privileges that you were born to.
By the way, the word you’re probably looking for is success, not victimhood.
March 8, 2017 at 3:05 am
I read your article and noticed that you have exposed the double standards of the ace filmmaker.But if you’re referring to Kareena Kapoor and about the incident mentioned in the filmaker’s biography about her asking for the same amount of fee,it is pointless to accuse him of gender discrimination.Take it from a pragmatic viewpoint ,Karan is a business man and stars are paid according to their market value(popularity).It is no hidden fact that the fan following of Kareena is far less than srk.It was a time when women eccentric film had no scope in Indian cinema.Comparing Kareena and a global superstar like SRK is truly unjust.It is not good to use the idea of feminism when it is not needed.Talking about Karan’s double standards,you nailed it!!
March 8, 2017 at 10:58 am
That is incorrect. When AIB accused him of Nepotism , it was true of course but firstly it happened two years ago and since then Karan Johar had launched many outsiders , not as actors but as producers , directors , scriptwriters. He probably would have expected this to shed his image of being a Robin Hood to the rich. But then Kangana accused him of being a strict flag bearer. She is right in her place , that it was difficult for her to get in the industry , but she should also realise she isn’t the only one who is an outsider. Karan was probably triggered after hearing this one too many times.
March 8, 2017 at 5:25 pm
This article is perfect. Glad someone called him out on his bullshit. However I am not surprised…all the “industry kids” like Johar talk about how they struggle too and that nepotism isn’t that relevant.
March 9, 2017 at 2:18 pm
Anyone who is not animated by prejudiced animus understands that ‘playing the woman card’ means appealing for undeserved solidarity simply because one is a woman.
The emphasis is on the word ‘playing’. Similarly when you are playing the victim card, you are NOT a victim. You seek the undeserved empathy.
Kangna was not accused of being a woman – as the writer cutely puts it. She was accused of falsely invoking her gender as her disadvantage here.
Looks like so many have fallen for it. Not just you folks here- that’s a given- I mean even among the general public.
Despite being an obnoxious git, she is having quite a successful career but still won’t stop whining. It is in that spirit that Johar said what he did.
Now to misrepresent that as some kind of gatekeeper-ly comment from Johar, with an villainous intent to snuff out this independent spirited gal, is simplistic, if not malicious.
It is unfortunate many seem to be in ready agreement with Kangna because simply because is craftily making the right noises on women empowerment and turned this into a small girl David against the Goliath BollyMafia, which it so is not.
In her statement today – which again is getting a lot of ‘you go girl’ cheering – she has called Johar a chauvinist!
What next? Fascist? Racist? – enlist as many causes on your side as possible.
She then proceeded to invoke her acid attacked sister’s to stir up emotion and then proceeded to offer gratuitous advice to him about how he should bring up his infant daughters …ugh..how much pettiness can be packed into one person!
And lastly, if Kareena not being paid as much as SRK is what the wage-gap is all about, I think I finally understand it.