The trailers are out for Karan Johar's new production Dostana (directed by Tarun Mansukhani, starring Abhishek
Bachchan, John Abraham, Priyanka Chopra and releasing in November 2008).
The teaser suggests that
most of the romance and frolic in the sunshine of Florida takes place between the two male leads, Abhishek
Bachchan and John Abraham.
Is Dostana a gay romance?
No, John and Abhishek play two straight guys who pretend to be gay. As the trailers say, it's a tiny lie that they
tell because of certain circumstances.
Is it an updated version of the 1980s buddy film with the same name?
It has absolutely nothing in common with that film (which my father made) except the name. Oh, and both films
have two actors with a sexy girl between them.
So you would be surprised to hear that the original Dostana that starred Amitabh Bachchan and Shatrughan
Sinha is also occasionally read as a film with gay subtext.
I wonder what my father would think of that. But you know in India we find it slightly embarrassing to watch male
You started a trend of self-referencing in Bollywood with Kal Ho Na Ho. And in these trailers you seem to be
making fun of your older films.
Oh yes, Tarun and his team had a lot of fun making these trailers. In Bollywood we have a new romcom coming out
every month. These trailers have you thinking, "Oh God, another film that says it's an eternal love story" and then
you plummet straight into this mad plot.
In Kal Ho Na Ho, you had a gay subplot. In this film the fake gay relationship is the main thread of the story.
Do you think you will ever make a film that is actually about a gay couple?
I learnt something from making Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna. I learnt that it's possible to make a Rs 70 crore film about
infidelity with stars as big as Shah Rukh Khan.
And people accepted it. So I will push the boundaries with
each of my films. People judged me far too quickly. They decided that I would make only mushy films but I will
break new ground every year.
We have to leave behind the tone of the films we made in the 80s and the
90s. But is India ready for a big, serious film like Brokeback Mountain yet? I would say it won't go down too well
yet. But we will open the doors for other filmmakers in the future.
Communities who have made major contributions to cinema have been oddly subject to terrible stereotyping on
screen. Like Muslims and Anglo-Indians in Bollywood. Do you think the industry is homophobic?
I don't think people confident in their own skills would be homophobic. If you are educated and have been brought
up in an urban milieu it's quite ridiculous if you are homophobic. It either means you are insecure or you have never
read a book. Or that you are in denial of your own orientation.
Homophobia speaks volumes about who
you are. That's as far as the industry is concerned. As filmmakers I think we have a great responsibility to be
sensitive to the feelings of all communities.
We Asians are an emotionally volatile and dramatic lot. Tarun
and his team have made a film that is fun but does not poke fun. It is not callous and does not hurt the dignity of
gay people in any way. It may shock a small part of the population, but I think most people would enjoy
What do you feel about being a gay icon?
It's very flattering to be an icon to any community. I have been asked many times about my own orientation but I
will never discuss my personal life. People can look at me or look down at me, I don't care. What I do and where I
do it and who I do it with is nobody's business but mine.