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‘Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahani’ is now a love story benchmark: Karan Johar

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MUMBAI: Nothing can compare to the pairing of Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol when it comes to romance but with time, there has to be an evolution, says filmmaker Karan Johar, who believes his latest directorial “Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahani” has set a “love story benchmark”.

Starring Alia Bhatt and Ranveer Singh as the lead pair, the movie has turned out to be a critical and commercial success with its global box office collection already crossing Rs 100 crore since its release last Friday.

At the film’s success press conference, the filmmaker was asked about chronicling love stories, right from Shah Rukh’s Rahul and Kajol’s Anjali from his 1998 debut “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” to the titular pair of his new film.

The filmmaker called Shah Rukh and Kajol “romance icons” who will remain unmatched in the way they represented love on the screen.

“Shah Rukh is love. He is a superstar, an emotion. The way he sings a love song or portrays a love scene… When he says ‘aur paas’, you want to go completely paas (close). When he says ‘kuch kuch hota hai, tum nahi samajhogi’, even we don’t know what he means but we still go with the flow because Shah Rukh Khan is Shah Rukh Khan and there will never be another Shah Rukh Khan. Similarly, there will never be another pairing like Shah Rukh and Kajol,” Johar told reporters.

But with time, there has to be an evolution, he said.

“And evolution has to bring the syntax of today. When we represent Rocky and Rani through the song ‘Tum Kya Mile’, we take a leaf out of the glorious book of SRK and Kajol and their love songs. But you have to change the tonality of love and romance to match our times today.

“And Rocky and Rani may be rooted and embedded in the heartbeat of the family but we brought something new. I don’t think we can compare the two. I do know that this is now a love story benchmark.”

“Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani” follows the love story of the titular couple, played by Ranveer and Alia, who belong to contrasting backgrounds and cultures.

Johar, who returns to direction after 2016’s “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil”, said his heart is full of all the love and critical acclaim coming his way, and it has made him feel like he has made his debut all over again.

“I had been busy this last week only receiving love and it’s in abundance. I don’t think I had that feeling of joy in my career. There was a seven-year gap and I had forgotten what it was like to direct a film and receive feedback,” the 51-year-old filmmaker said.

Recalling his filmography, Johar said he had a situation when the team had to be out of the country when “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” was released. Though “Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham” did well at the box office, the film was sandwiched between Aamir Khan’s “Lagaan” and Farhan Akhtar’s “Dil Chahta Hai”.

“We didn’t get that love, we got that in retrospect but it was all about ‘Lagaan’ and ‘Dill Chahta Hai’. Like, ‘Lagaan’ was this archival beauty, ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ was the new tone of cinema. I remember reading a review, which said, ‘Old wine new bottle’. I was not nominated for any awards and I used to get disturbed.

“During ‘Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna’, the moral police were running after me. For ‘My Name is Khan’ there were other political issues. When ‘Student of the Year’ released there was a tragic loss in the family, Yash (Chopra) ji passed away,” he said.

Even during “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil”, the team faced issues, Johar said, without mentioning the boycott calls for films featuring Pakistani actors in the aftermath of the Uri terror attack.

“There was no problem with this film, thank god… This kind of love is a first for me. I’m feeling this is my debut film. From here, I hope to make many more. I don’t think I felt this good being a filmmaker,” the director said.

All of Johar’s films also explore family dynamics and the influence it has on the central love story but it is more pronounced in “Rocky and Rani Kii Prem Kahani”, which also features veteran actors Dharmendra, Shabana Azmi and Jaya Bachchan.

As a filmmaker, Johar said, he tries to bring elements from his personal life into his stories.

“It is a given that a filmmaker or a writer tries to incorporate elements from his personal life on the big cinema… As far as the family is concerned, Dharam ji says ‘Ghar nahi todte’. It is my personal belief as well. “This statement defines my family and value system. No matter what, you try to hold on to your family. I have poured my feelings into these dialogues,” he said. (PTI)

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