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Anjali from Kajol to Saba from Aishwarya Rai Bachchan to Megha from Kiara Advani

Karan Johar Films and his female characters evolving with them (Photo credit – Instagram / Karan Johar; IMDb)

The new wave of cinema, especially in the Hindi film industry, has married alongside the commercial, and a large number of viewers now want to consume content-based films. But deep in our hearts every now and then we crave the melodrama that Bollywood created in abundance once. And Karan Johar has been a critical person in providing this to the masses to a point.

We all witnessed and applauded when Karan Johar grew Anjali out of her long hair so that Rahul could instantly fall in love with her. We were also there when he realized that women had a say in life, and had Mandira play the same Kajol in My Name Is Khan, a woman with the authority of her life without needing a man to dictate it. Criticize as much as you like, but Karan let the women in his imagination evolve over time and was bold enough to address this through his films. He was learning on sets, and that’s the best part.

He might be the mainstream, commercial, or father of OTT movies, but he had times in his career where he was able to create different female characters who had a voice. By doing this, he managed to contradict himself and is not ashamed. Today, as he celebrates his birthday, let’s watch some of his most amazing films and how the women in his universe have evolved through them.

KABHI KHUSHI KABHIE GHAM (2001)

Either way, K3G will still be my guilty pleasure, even if you call it problematic. Karan Johar, as a director, was venturing into the zone for the second time, after Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, and you know how the female characters were treated there, albeit a majority. Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Ghum was a mixture of both worlds. There was a Kajol who had to get married at her father’s funeral without his consent (I know they loved it and everything, but seriously?). And on the other hand, there was Poo (Kareena Kapoor) who was running everyone with his saas. The battle has therefore been won at 15%! Let’s face it, not that Poo is enough for any purpose with all this influence.

KABHI ALVIDA NAA KEHNA (2006)

Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna was Karan Johar looking at infidelity with the most glamorous glasses. Now, when there were too many problems, Karan, at this point, had realized that his women had to have their own voices. They can’t be stupid while men rule their lives. In Rani Mukerji and Preity Zinta, he created women with distinct voices. There was a silent battle that Rani played throughout, and she was tied with Shah Rukh Khan in the same.

MY NAME IS KHAN (2010)

Ladies & Gentlemen, we finally come to the year that Karan Johar has directed the best feature film of his entire career so far. Mandira de Kajol has to be one of my most favorite female Johar characters. She had diapers for her. Sparkling, loving, hardworking, a warrior and Kajol managed to represent them all. Subtract all the negative buzz around the movie, this is one of the best for everyone involved.

BOMBAY TALKIES (2013)

If My Name Is Khan was his best feature film, the 30 or so minutes in Bombay Talkies is where he put all his heart and soul into creating magic. Starring Randeep Hooda, Saqib Salim and Rani Mukerji, the anthology short was about a man living a life of duality, a boy who had accepted himself, and a woman who was a way for the two to to log in. Less did we know what the filmmaker had for her in store. Rani in this red saree and lipstick make one of Bollywood’s best climaxes.

AE DIL HAI MUSHKIL (2016)

You’d expect me to talk about Alizeh here, but no. Although I liked the way Anushka Sharma portrayed her, and the fact that she had authority over her life, but somehow it didn’t come to fruition. I prefer to speak of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s Saba, a woman as mystical and cryptic as a dream. Men didn’t need to rule his world. Love was but that did not prevent her from being the force that she in turn is becoming. If Karan Johar ever plans a Saba spin-off, I’ll buy the first ticket.

LUST STORIES (2018)

It must be the most daring the filmmaker has ever done. He placed a woman in a patriarchal family, but gave her the constant itch to fly away. Kiara Advani’s character in Lust Stories openly yearned for her sexual satisfaction, and that’s a topic someone needed to bring up. This one project was such that the commercialization of this topic actually attracted more eyeballs and worked for good.

Karan Johar, we are happy that you have evolved and continue to evolve. We hope it will stay the same. Have a glorious year ahead and look forward to meeting you at the movies soon!

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