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The Best Karan Johar Films On OTT

June 27, 2023 12:29 IST
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It doesn't seem like it, but 25 years have passed since Kuch Kuch Hota Hai released and introduced a bright, youngm director name Karan Johar.

He has directed just six feature films since his slam-dunk debut; his seventhRocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani will be out on July 29.

But he's been super busy.

As a producer of a wide variety of mainstream and some offbeat films, creator of copious OTT content, as a talk show host, walking on fashion ramps, a writer, not just of his films, but his autobiography, he's got his finger in many pies.

Karan has taken his banner Dharma Productions, founded by his father Yash Johar (who passed away on June 26, 2004) to new heights of success.

Deepa Gahlot picks the top 10 Karan Johar films -- some that he directed and others that he produced or co-produced -- that you can watch on steaming platforms.


Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, 1998
Where to watch? Netflix, Amazon Prime Video

When Karan Johar was working on Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge as assistant and bit-part actor, its lead cast Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol told him that if he ever decided to make a movie, they would act in it.

He took them up on their word, wrote a love triangle, with Rani Mukerji as the third angle, and smashed the box office.

The story begins in college, where Rahul (SRK) and Anjali (Kajol) are best buddies. The tomboyish Anjali is in love with Rahul, but when the ultra-feminine Tina (Rani) walks in, he falls for her.

Broken-hearted, Anjali exits from their lives.

Then Tina dies, and her eight-year-old daughter (Sana Saeed) reads letters left for her by her mother, that lead her to look for Anjali and reunite her with Rahul.

Anjali is now a demure, sari-clad teacher, about to marry Aman (Salman Khan). It takes all of little Anjali's ingenuity, and the encouragement of her grandmother (Farida Jalal), to make Rahul realise that he loves his old college-mate.

Karan Johar filled the film with style and colour and catchy music (Jatin-Lalit), giving a freshness to romantic movie clichés, and proved with his first film that he had it in him to be a successful film-maker.


Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, 2001
Where to watch? Netflix, Amazon Prime Video

Karan Johar coined the much-imitated tagline, 'It's all about loving your family', in his second directorial Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. In this, instead of a child steering her father's love life, a brother reunites his splintered family.

After the success of KKHH, he had a choice of stars for his second film.

Billionaire Yashvardhan 'Yash' Raichand (Amitabh Bachchan) and his wife Nandini (Jaya Bachchan) live in Delhi with their sons Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan) and Rohan (Kavish Majumdar, who grows up to be Hrithik Roshan).

Yash is traditional and domineering, so when Rahul marries Anjali (Kajol), belonging to a lower social status, he is banished from home, and reminded of his adopted status. Rahul, Anjali and her sister Pooja (Kareena Kapoor) relocate to London.

When Rohan returns from boarding school, he takes it upon himself to bring the family together again, in which he is helped by the snooty 'Poo' after she is suitably desified.

After many twists and turns, Yash Raichand drops his pride and embraces the estranged Rahul and his family, while Rohan and Pooja get married.

What stuck audiences was the lavish scale on which a family drama was mounted, with grand homes, designer outfits, and of course, hit music.


Kal Ho Naa Ho, 2003
Where to watch? Netflix, Amazon Prime Video

Produced by Karan Johar and directed by Nikkhil Advani, yet another romantic triangle -- with a dash of tragedy -- had the KJo stamp over it, since he wrote it.

Aman (Shah Rukh Khan) moves next door to a troubled Naina (Preity Zinta) and changes her life. His joie de vivre wins her heart and she is shocked to learn that he is married.

In truth, Aman is dying of a heart ailment and wants to get Naina and her friend Rohit (Saif Ali Khan) to fall in love and marry.

After a lot of confusion and tugging at heartstrings, Aman succeeds in his plan. When he dies, he leaves his friends with memories of his short but fulfilling life.

Karan's script tempered the weepy melodrama with humour, and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy's music wrapped up the package of entertainment with a red bow.


Dostana, 2008
Where to watch? Netflix, Amazon Prime Video

Tarun Mansukhani directed this romantic comedy for Producer Karan Johar, and brought the discussion about homosexuality into mainstream cinema.

Two friends Sameer (Abhishek Bachchan) and Kunal (John Abraham), both flirty bachelors in Miami, pretend to be gay to rent an apartment belonging to Neha (Priyanka Chopra).

Predicably, both fall in love with Neha.

But their lie causes other problems, like Kunal's residence permit, Sam's mother (Kirron Kher) getting shocked at her son's lifestyle and Neha dating her colleague Abhi (Bobby Deol) at the fashion magazine where she works.

Sam and Kunal try every mean trick possible to get her to break up, but cause more comic complications.

The film with its popular Vishal-Shekar songs, also stands out for its glamorous costumes. Those tiny yellow swimming trunks will be associated forever with John Abraham.


Wake Up Sid, 2009
Where to watch? Netflix

Ayan Mukerji made his directorial debut with this film produced by Karan Johar. It is a charming coming-of-age story about a rich brat Sid (Ranbir Kapoor), who does not take life seriously till he walks out of home in a huff and has to fend for himself.

At a party, he befriends aspiring writer Aisha Banerjee (Konkona Sen Sharma), who has moved to Mumbai from Kolkata to work with a magazine.

Circumstances force him to share an apartment with Aisha, so he gradually acquires a sense of responsibility and a career as a photographer.

Told with simplicity, the film lacked KJo's extravagant flourishes, but it worked because it stayed true to its milieu and concentrated more on emotions than on style.


My Name Is Khan, 2010
Where to watch? Amazon Prime Video

Unlike the typical Karan Johar film, this one took a political stance. Shah Rukh Khan played Rizwan Khan, an autistic man with Asperger syndrome.

He lives in the US with his brother Zakir (Jimmy Shergill), and falls in love with the widowed Mandira (Kajol), who has a young son, Sameer.

They get married and are happy together when their lives are cruelly disrupted by 9/11. With the Muslim surname Khan, they face hostility and discrimination, that leads to Sameer's tragic death.

A shattered Mandira blames Rizwan and in her grief, tells him that he has to tell the American people and the president of the United States, that his name is Khan and he is not a terrorist.

Taking her words to heart, he embarks on a road trip to meet the president and has several adventures on the way, and meets a variety of people, some who help him and others who call him a traitor to Islam.

The Forrest Gump-like story of innocence and love conquering hate may have been simplistic, but made its case with sincerity.


Student Of The Year, 2012
Where to watch? Netflix, Amazon Prime Video

Karan Johar revisited the campus capers he had left behind with this film, in which he introduced Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan and Sidharth Malhotra.

The director was on familiar ground with young actors, stylish costumes and Vishal-Shekhar's peppy music.

When he is on his deathbed, the former dean of a college, Yogendra 'Yogi' Vashist (Rishi Kapoor) wants to meet the students of his last batch.

Ten years ago, the wealthy and popular Rohan (Dhawan) and Shanaya (Bhatt) encounter middle class but ambitious new student, Abhimanyu Singh (Malhotra).

Over time, Shanaya and Abhimanyu fall in love, which annoys Rohan. The two young men now compete for the Student of the Year competition, which has unexpected consequences.

When they meet again, they clear all misunderstandings and Yogi dies in peace.

A bit too lightweight even by mainstream Bollywood standards, the film was lifted by the young actors, all of whom went on to build successful careers.


Kapoor and Sons, 2015
Where to watch? Netflix, Amazon Prime Video

Directed by Shakun Batra, for Karan Johar's banner, the film looked at a dysfunctional family, an uncommon theme in commercial Hindi cinema.

When their grandfather Amarjeet Kapoor (Rishi Kapoor) suffers a heart attack, estranged brothers Arjun (Sidharth Malhotra) and Rahul (Pakistani star Fawad Khan) return to their childhood home in Coonoor.

Their parents Harsh and Sunita (Rajat Kapoor, Ratna Pathak Shah) are also struggling with their marriage. Amarjeet expresses that his last wish is to take a family photo titled 'Kapoor & Sons, since 1921'.

But before the photo can be taken, there are upheavals involving lies, infidelity and a girl (Alia Bhatt), who is attracted to both brothers.

Rahul's secret -- that he is gay -- is revealed by accident, and Harsh's death in a car crash is the final blow.

The family does come together for the photo, after solving their problems, even though it is now incomplete.


Raazi, 2018
Where to watch? Amazon Prime Video

Directed by Meghna Gulzar and co-produced by Karan Johar (with Junglee Pictures), the gripping spy story was about a young Indian woman, Sehmat (Alia Bhatt), who is sent undercover as the wife of a Pakistan army man (Vicky Kaushal), so that she can provide Indian intelligence agencies with information that helped India get ahead in the 1971 war with Pakistan.

The film, based on a true story, and was one of the few female-led films that became a major hit.

It also gave Alia Bhatt the image of a serious actress, who was at ease in a difficult role. It is one of the best spy/war films made in India.


Brahmastra Part One - Shiva, 2022
Where to watch? Disney +Hotstar 

Despite mixed reactions and the many memes, Ayan Mukerji's film, co-produced by Karan Johar, attempted using VFX to tell a very Indian adventure-cum-mythological story.

Shiva (Ranbir Kapoor) is unaware that he has a superpower -- fire does not burn him.

He is part of a secret cult led by guru (Amitabh Bachchan) that is meant to save the divine weapon Brahmastra from the powers of evil, represented by a reptilian woman (Mouni Roy).

Along with Isha (Alia Bhatt) he goes to the Himalayas to unravel the mystery. Hopefully, the other two parts of the planned trilogy will be better and more fun.

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