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Filmmakers stamp their identity on each film they make. Like how a new born inherits from the gene pool of its parents and has brown eyes like the mother or stubby toes like the father, a film takes its all from the maker. Kids outgrow parents but a film can never outgrow its maker. Quentin Tarantino’s films, for instance, can be sniffed miles away from their format – long witty, thrilling or plain dangerous dialogue portions followed by bursts of brutal violence. His films are like stretching a string to its tautest, breaking point and then suddenly letting go. The violent twang resonates long after the string stops vibrating. James Cameron as we know by now, is more into ‘how you tell a story’ rather than ‘what is the story’. His films are lavish, unbelievably budgeted, shot like a dream and pull masses like a magnet. Trust me, if I had the vision to make a film like Avatar, it wouldn’t have let me sleep peacefully for the entire period I spend making it – which would have been ten years or more. But the man is incredibly collected about it, knows his job and is even gracious enough to put the Oscar snubbing behind and talk of the future already. Back home, a Mani Ratnam work is set apart by its distinct filming. Semi darkness, short one word repartee-like dialogues, urban tales, beautiful cinematography and classy music. Likewise Bharathi Raaja  is inseparable from  his deep baritone, yen iniya thamizh makkale and rural earthy subjects. Shankar is grandiose, Bala is morbid, Balu Mahendra is true to life and so the list goes on. The world is not ignorant to behind-the-screen geniuses anymore. When ManiRatnam made Dil Se with the mighty Shah Rukh Khan, It was and is still known more as the director’s product than the superstar actor’s. ‘A film by’ is no longer a push-over tag.

Last week, I managed to catch a film which had its maker’s name written in pink comic sans font with a Mont Blanc limited edition pen all over it. A film raved implausibly by critics who called even the few who lashed out at the film ‘perennial pessimists’, a film which orchestrated a much higher octane drama outside the theatres rather than inside them, the very Indian film by the very patriotic maker who chooses to wail down at least one Bharat Mata song at a crucial crunch scene in his film but premieres his films outside the country. The film which saw the usually ruthless Bollywood churn out whole hearted support to the superstar who knows he’s been proved right when he unabashedly calls himself the Badshah of Bollywood. The film though at the risk of sounding megalomaniac, is very aptly titled My Name is Khan.

With MNIK, they say, Karan Johar has broken away the shackles which bound him to designer clothes and glass palaces. I say, Eh? Mr. Johar undoubtedly stamps his name all over his product with perfectly manicured, rolex wearing hands but is that any indication that the end product spells class? As the film closed, the last frame freezing at ‘A Karan Johar film’, I remember thinking warily ’Right. Like we couldn’t see this all along.’

You know it’s absolutely a Karan Johar film when

Shah Rukh Khan is lovingly caressed by the camera from all possible angles and directions with unending close ups. It’s as though the camera has a love affair with him and thinks it’s a sin to shoot even a single frame without him in it.

There is ALWAYS a song being sung in chorus to ruin a perfectly well shot poignant moment. I loved that scene in church when SRK eulogises about his dead son in that typical Asperger’s way and just when we have those tears welling up at the corner of our eyelids and the lips start to quiver (very SRK-ish, I know) they start holding hands and singing ‘We shall overcome’ happily as if it was some strange fancy dress party in a Church. All the pain and suffering that was so evident a moment ago is conveniently forgotten. To top it up, the Americans sing in English and SRK in Hindi. I felt like this Bakra victim on MTV. Next time Johar plans to ruin such a scene, I think he should just make an appearance on screen and say, “Ok, now here comes the patriotic song I promised to keep in the movie. Wipe away the tears. This is a happy, hope giving, la-la-la chorus song. Enjoy.”

Rizwan Khan(SRK) travels day and night, hitching rides and on foot many a days, repairing his way through money but miraculously manages to stay as fresh as a newly blooming lily through all this. Face always cleanly shaven, make-up impeccably hiding his age and designer jackets to keep warm. He’s even punched on the nose once by a policeman and bleeds but by the time he’s in jail the bleeding is gone and everything is ‘made up’. Not a scar, not a swelling. When Kajol cries, a drop of tear runs down one corner of her left eye taking care not to ruin the mascara. When SRK is beaten up, blood trickles down his right nostril artistically so that maybe we wouldn’t have to feel his pain. And even when Kajol  laments hysterically, holding her son’s dead body in her hands, she wears a perfectly tailored pure white blouse without a single crease, with the hair styled perfectly and not a strand out of place. We are never allowed a glimpse of what Mandira goes through, what Rizwan’s life is or what post 9/11 life means. All we can see is the larger than life ShahRukh Khan, Kajol in  Gucci, Louis Vitton and Manish Malhotra as the camera worships them frame after frame.  If not a karan Johar film, what else is this?

ShahRukh Khan needs to meet the President. Ok. But why is he made to sit writing letters in the Arizona desert for that? IS the President going to be there to inaugurate a new irrigation project? And why should he pedal a bicycle to motor out rain water? Was it stone age when electricity couldn’t be used to power motors? You can pedal a bicyle all day long to punp out water, stupid. Only thing, the work’s done faster using electricity. And not knowing that is not brilliant but plain moronic and stupid.

So there. It’s a Karan Johar film all the way. He scares me more when he’s making these so-called sensitive issue based movies than when he’s making those KKHH’s and K3G’s. At least you didn’t have to take those seriously.

P.S. I did like MNIK. No, really. SRK has nice dimples. And I loved his duck-walk in the film. So cute!

P.P.S. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy are getting so boring and repetitive. Yawn.

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