Storytellers of a new generation
Karan Johar, My College Bestie

Karan Johar, My College Bestie

The Karan I know.

Friendship Day. Not sure we need a day to celebrate friends (or any other day celebrating our mother, father, dog or cat). But these days we aren’t friends if we haven’t advertised it on Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat. For old school (read old) people like me, we celebrate each other by spending time together.

Karan and I met over 25 years ago, awkward 18-year-olds at a French class, (our friendship is older than most millennials). We hit it off from day one. For the next 4 years, we were inseparable - at class, home or partying. Unlike my French, his is great even now. Although it’s more his accent than grammar or vocabulary (and he says Christian Louboutin loves him for it).
We would attend class during the day, then spend the evening at his house and party thrice a week. Our reputation preceded us and we came to be (in)famously known as Disco King and Disco Queen (DK and DQ), hitting every disco from SoBo to Bandra. We weren’t big drinkers, didn’t do drugs or smoke. We just danced and socialized. There were nights we hung outside nightclubs and told people it was too crowded so we had stepped out for some fresh air; when in reality we hadn’t even stepped in. We just wanted to see and be seen!

DK and DQ at a college reunion!DK and DQ at a college reunion!

Karan loved Bollywood even then (though like any self-respecting SoBo boy, he was ashamed to admit it). I spent evenings watching him gyrate to ‘Mere Haathon Mein Nau Nau Chudiyan’, and despite being a little overweight he could give any heroine today a run for her money. His only training was watching films. In fact, he’s responsible for my introduction to Hindi movies, which started with ‘Lamhe’. It was a proud day for him and a big shift for me.

Over the years we’ve changed, but not much. Karan transformed from a chubby boy to a suave, dapper and hugely successful filmmaker. We were both fashionistas (me less than him), always wanting to look our best. And though my wardrobe still has a mix of street fashion and big brands, Karan has moved from Benetton (it was ‘the’ place to shop) to Valentino and Gucci. From chubby cheeks to an Instagram pout (no one has mastered it like him). From dancing in his Malabar Hill apartment, to dance shows across the world. From being a fan boy to having fan boys and girls.

The famous pout!The famous pout!

But even after all the fame and success, Karan is still the most kind-hearted and generous person I know, always just a phone call away. The reason we are still friends after all these years is because of him and his effort to keep in touch. There has not been one birthday that he hasn’t called, irrespective of which part of the world he was in. Our phone calls transcended continents and time zones. Today our long chats include dissecting his films. We have a tradition: after each film preview, whatever time of the night, we discuss the film, the acting, the scene I loved the most, and when I cried (another tradition).

Our ‘kitty dinner’ with Nobu Johar! Our ‘kitty dinner’ with Nobu Johar!

The disco nights have been replaced by ’kitty lunches and dinners’. We share every detail of our life, and for everyone who always asks, `give me some gossip,’ we almost never speak about the stars or their lives so I never have any to give. Karan never discusses his film friends, and even as a close friend, I never ask. But he is my relationship guru and gives great advice. Sometimes I feel it’s almost one way. Except when his dad was unwell. I think that’s the only time I saw Karan at his most vulnerable. He was shooting ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’ in New York, and I was in Canada. We would speak a lot, well into the night. I could see how shaken he was but he continued handling the shoot and being a support for his mum. After his dad’s passing, he transformed overnight. From a boy he became a man.

At the book launch of “An Unsuitable Boy”At the book launch of “An Unsuitable Boy”

House parties have given way to grand filmi bashes with the who’s who of Bollywood. He makes sure we – his college friends - never feel left out, and is the perfect host, introducing us to everyone as his oldest friends. It feels surreal, not because I’m surprised at how far he’s come, but because I always knew he had it in him.

Shooting for “It’s My Life” with Raveena TandonShooting for “It’s My Life” with Raveena Tandon

I have to admit I do take advantage of who he is sometimes. Whether it’s getting introduced to Fawad Khan (my crush) or making my son meet Alia Bhatt (his crush). Through Karan I’ve had my moments of fame as well. Like appearing on episodes of Farooq Sheikh’s ‘Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai’ and Raveena Tandon’s ‘It’s My Life’. Or being mentioned in Karan’s recently released autobiography 'An Unsuitable Boy'.

Meeting Fawad Khan at the preview of “Kapoor & Sons”Meeting Fawad Khan at the preview of “Kapoor & Sons”

25 years after we met in that French class, the parties have got bigger, the brands more exclusive, the pout more pronounced. But deep down he’s still the same compassionate, down to earth, funny guy. And that’s why for me my famous friend will always remain a most suitable boy. Happy Friendship Day Karan.


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity and do not in any way represent or reflect the views of

By Sunaina Bhagwat
Photographs by Sunaina Bhagwat