New York: Filmmaker Karan Johar spoke exclusively to NDTV about his comments on nepotism - made at the IIFA Awards - and actress Kangana Ranaut. Mr Johar, 45, and actors Saif Ali Khan and Varun Dhawan have been criticised for chanting "Nepotism rocks" at the award show in New York last weekend, seen as a jibe at Kangana. Speaking to NDTV, Karan Johar said, "Of course I don't believe that 'nepotism rocks'. Of course, I believe that only talent rocks. If anything that rocks, it's your talent, hard work and conviction. It's the energy you bring to your job. What we said was meant to be a joke, which I think has been misplaced, misunderstood and I think it went wrong. I regret it."
- My comment on nepotism was misplaced, said Karan Johar
- Karan Johar regrets the comments he made about Kangana at IIFA
- Karan Johar took the entire responsibility of the 'nepotism rocks' gig
Varun Dhawan, who won an award for Best Actor in a Comic Role, tweeted an apology yesterday, but Karan Johar told NDTV that it was his idea. "The idea of that joke was entirely mine, so I take onus of the idea of what we said. And I think we went a bit too far with the Kangana mention," he said. The three men - all sons of Bollywood insiders - invoked each other's famous parent on stage at IIFA, ending by chorusing "Nepotism rocks." It has been seen as a taunt directed at Kangana Ranaut, who told Karan Johar on his show Koffee With Karan earlier this year that he was "the flagbearer of nepotism" in Bollywood.
Mr Johar told NDTV, "No matter what I say or feel about my issues with what Kangana said on my talk show Koffee With Karan, I think I was raised to be a dignified, a chivalrous, and a decent person. That's the upbringing that I was given and I feel that I failed on those accounts. I felt that no matter what my thoughts or personal issues on this, I should not have repeatedly brought that up. For that, I'm deeply regretful."
Twitter was scathing in its reaction to the IIFA set piece, and was particularly critical of the fact that the joke was made in Kangana's absence - the Queen actress was not at the IIFA weekend and rarely attends award ceremonies. Karan Johar told NDTV that the joke may have been in poor taste but the intention was not to hurt. "It was something that we said in humour, it may be terrible humour, bad humour, misplaced humour, but our intention was not to hurt anyone. That very core is what failed. Then I got carried away in the moment and I regret that," he said.
Mr Johar, who has addressed the charge of nepotism in his column for NDTV.com, has now had his last word: "I want to once and for all say and close this chapter after this and subsequently I will not speak about nepotism nor Kangana because it would be distrustful for her and it would be ungraceful at my end, which I've already been. Nepotism is easy access, nobody can deny that, but what you do with that access is what moulds you into a professional."
Watch: Karan Johar clarifies what he said about Kangana and nepotism
Karan Johar, who heads the hugely successful Dharma Productions, last directed 2016 film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil.