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Karan Johar Says Love Stories are 'Dead' in Bollywood, Explains How OTT can Resurrect the Genre

Karan Johar

Karan Johar

Karan Johar has said that the romance genre, which once was the biggest draw at the box office, seems to have lost its charm.

Karan Johar’s name is synonymous with romance dramas. Apart from ’90s favourite Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Bollywood buffs also have Karan to thank for Kal Ho Naa Ho, Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, Dostana and Wake Up Sid, some of the first modern love stories to find commercial success and to set the tone for others. However, the filmmaker has said that the romance genre, which once was the biggest draw at the box office, seems to have lost its charm.

The ’90s was also dominated by love stories from father-son duo Yash Chopra and Aditya Chopra, who delivered multiple blockbusters that greatly influenced the mainstream narrative in the Hindi cinema and had significant impact on popular culture. But Karan said that today no one is interested in making love stories.

“Today if you notice in Hindi cinema, the love stories are dead. We don’t make love stories anymore, they’re few. The 90s thrived on romances, starting from ‘Hum Aapke Hai Koun!’ going right up to ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.’ It was dictated by love stories,” Karan said.

The 48-year-old director was speaking at a special event of Netflix, titled ‘See What’s Next India’, where he announced five new projects including a love story ‘Meenakshi Sundareshwar’ under his digital banner Dharmatic. The film features Sanya Malhotra and Abhimanyu Dassani in the lead roles. Karan revealed ‘Meenakshi Sundareshwar’ was originally meant for a theatrical release but he decided to drop it on the streaming platform after analysing a certain data which indicated that the OTT route would be more ideal for the film.

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“That story came to me as a theatrical film. When Srishti (Behl Arya, Director- International Original Film, Netflix India) heard it and said let’s do this for the platform, I did some data and an academic thought on it and realised this can be done. There’s a data that supports certain genres which aren’t working on cinema halls anymore but have a wide audience on streaming platforms,” he said.

When asked by Srishti if he would do a ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ for streaming platform, Karan said it’s a “vast and complicated” question.

“A Salman Khan actioner like Dabangg, the blockbuster Dhoom franchise or even a Shah Rukh Khan-led romantic film comes loaded with nostalgia for the big screen. So the cinegoer in you would feel that film is meant for cinema halls. While I believe that these divides and lines are blurring, a lot of films that you would imagine would be in cinema halls are now being produced by platforms of power and are doing a spectacular job.”

“So would I make a Kuch Kuch Hota Hai? As a filmmaker, a scream inside says no. But a practical voice also says ‘wait and watch’,” Karan added.

Apart from ‘Meenakshi Sundareshwar’, Karan upcoming projects on Netflix include drama ‘Ajeeb Daastaans’, Madhuri Dixit-starrer series ‘Finding Anamika’, the documentary ‘Searching For Sheela’ on Ma Anand Sheela and season two of ‘Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives’.