So when moderator Shobhaa De, during the launch of his biography at the Jaipur Literature Fesival 2016, asked him why he wasn’t as vocal as some of his colleagues in the tolerance-intolerance debate, he didn’t hold back.
“Revealing in today’s time can land you in jail. We are in a tough country to speak about your personal life,” said Johar. “And I feel really sad about it because being a public figure, you are expected to helm a certain movement, talk about freedom of expression, which is the biggest
joke in the world. Democracy is the second biggest joke I think.”
Johar went on to say that he felt bound at every level and that he felt relieved after getting a clean chit from a court in Lucknow for putting the national anthem in his film Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gam.
“Whether it is what I put out on celluloid or what I say in print, I don’t know who will file a case. I feel there is always some kind of legal notice awaiting me everywhere I go. Today I am saying something in Jaipur and I feel scared wondering who will file case by time I return home. I’ve become some kind of an FIR king. A few days ago, after 14 years we have finally won a case. I no longer have to apologise for putting the national anthem in an emotional, proud manner. Ultimately, we have to say what we have to say without so much clever policing.”
Quizzed about why gays in the country were scared of coming out, he remarked, “They will be tortured 377 times for admitting it,” referring to the section of the Indian Penal Code that criminalises homosexuality.
Another remark gave out his vulnerability as a creative filmmaker : “I make movies Shobha. I am fighting megalomaniac film stars every day. You can’t expect me to be fighting governance.”