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Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa

Karan Johar joins Madhuri Dixit and choreographer Remo as the judge of celebrity dance show Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa this season. t2 caught up with KJo in Mumbai at the launch of the Colors show, about his films and friends.

From Koffee with Karan to Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, how did it happen?

Though I am television-friendly and have done a fair bit of TV myself, I always used to look at these reality shows and get very intrigued by them. I always wondered how it would be to judge people publicly in front of millions. Jhalak is a very successful franchise and when the offer came in, I felt that if I had to step into the reality TV zone, this would be the right choice.

I am also very comfortable with the set-up. I have known Madhuri for many years, both personally and professionally. The icing on the cake is that my mother (Hiroo Johar) watches the show religiously and she is very excited about primetime television as a whole. More than any of my cinematic achievements, I think she is most proud of the fact that I am judging Jhalak, which is vastly amusing to me (rolls his eyes).

What parameters will you judge contestants by?

Madhuri will, of course, judge the whole performance. She is an actress, a dancer and a performer and she is the best judge of something like this in its entirety. Remo is a choreographer and so the finer nuances of dance are what he will look at. Presentation and concept are what I will look at because as a filmmaker, these are the things that catch my eye first. I will look at the energy of the performers, something that I also look at in my actors. Legwork is just the grammar of it, it is the whole vibe and energy of an act that really counts for me in a dance performance. I can’t really be someone who will tell a contestant: ‘Oh, your right hand should not move like that’!

But we have seen you dance on TV and at parties!

(Laughs) I know how to only move to Punjabi songs because that’s in my DNA. Punjabis are born doing the balle balle! I have never been trained in dance… I am just a good wedding dancer… I can do the Shava shava. My hand and feet rhythm go all over the place, but that’s okay, I enjoy moving to a beat.

Is it difficult to judge achievers on a public platform?

It’s always very awkward to judge people who are already achievers. Here are people who have received love and attention and now it’s up to me to give them points. I don’t think I would have liked it if I were in their place. I can’t face it if someone comes up to me and says your film is three out of 10 or five out of 10. It is, of course, important to be honest, but I would definitely coat it with restraint. But then you again have to cater to an audience that wants drama in reality shows, so it’s quite a tricky place to be at. I guess I will follow what I do in my talk shows… be sweet and friendly and yet ask controversial questions (laughs).

Do you watch a lot of television yourself?

Well, I am forced to because my mother watches it all the time. Between 8.30pm and 10pm is the time I spend with her every evening and we spend it watching TV! Courtesy my mum I know what’s happening on Pavitra Rishta and that Bade Achche Lagte Hain is going through a generation leap and I know the trauma that is going through Balika Vadhu and the problems in Uttaran! (Laughs out loud.)

So what’s your favourite soap?

Favourite and soap?! That’s quite a contradiction don’t you think? (Laughs.) I said I watch them, I didn’t say I enjoy them! I don’t understand how so many unhappy lives cramp our primetime TV and people enjoy watching them! My mother is enamoured of these shows… come to my house in the evenings and you see how I struggle to communicate with her when the TV is on!

You have just wrapped up a long schedule of your new film Student of the Year in Thailand…

Yes, and we were in Thailand for so long… for 45 days… that I felt I had literally aged out there! I felt like I was stuck in a Bangkok Hilton-like situation and I would never come back from there (laughs). But all said and done, it was a fantastic schedule. This film reminds me so much of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai because it’s again in the college setting and explores youth dynamics. Even after shooting for so long, I still have 15 days left to wrap up the film. Sometimes I feel I am making the sequel as well!

You have already had moneyspinners like Agneepath and Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu this year. What’s the way forward for Dharma Productions?

I am just meeting new directors and executing their dreams. Every director comes to me with a passion and vision and if I like it, I will definitely give him or her a platform. I think foolish people lie back and enjoy their laurels. Dharma and I still have a long way to go.

Your 40th birthday bash was a huge spot-the-star contest…

It wasn’t meant to be like that… it was meant to be for people I love and I can’t help it if I love famous people! (Laughs out loud.) They all turned up looking great and they made it a night to remember. See, the primary reason I had this bash was to make up for the lack of a wedding because I am pretty sure there is never going to be one! I wanted an opportunity to bring all these people I know under one roof and my 40th birthday was the perfect one. I wanted a red carpet and black tie bash and it all came together so well. I think that bash was the biggest hit of my career!

How did you celebrate KKR’s IPL win?

Oh, I was so happy! I couldn’t be at Chennai, but I watched the match from start to finish. I was so happy for Shah Rukh (Khan) because I know how much he wanted it. Actually, more than for Shah Rukh, I wanted it for his son and daughter (Aryan and Suhana) because I have seen how upset they would get when KKR lost. My first BBM went out not to Shah Rukh, but to Aryan and Suhana saying: ‘You guys did it!’