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“The world needs to wake up to Indian stories” – Karan Johar becomes the first Indian director to win Variety’s Vanguard Award 2023

The 3rd edition of Red Sea International Film Festival 2023 began on November 30 in Jeddah, where Will Smith made his grand appearance after the slap incident

“The world needs to wake up to Indian stories” – Karan Johar becomes the first Indian director to win Variety’s Vanguard Award 2023

Karan Johar at Red Sea International Film Festival 2023

Last Updated: 03.56 AM, Dec 08, 2023


The Red Sea Film Foundation, a non-profit champion of film culture, empowers the Saudi film industry and enriches the Arab world. Through year-round programs, the Foundation supports production, distribution, film education, and skill development, nurturing a thriving film community. This aligns with the Kingdom's ambitious vision for a vibrant society, a driven nation, and a prospering economy. The first edition of the festival was held in Jeddah from December 6 to 15, 2021. This year, once again the third edition was held in Jeddah on November 30, and will end on December 9, 2023.

Karan Johar's Variety Vanguard Award win

Karan Johar has become the first Indian filmmaker to receive the Variety Vanguard Award 2023 at the Red Sea International Film Festival. Variety’s executive editor, Tatiana Siegel presented the Vanguard Award to Johar, and had a long and deep conversation about his life and his three decades spanning career in the industry.

Karan Johar reveals his long pause as a director

While talking about his long pause as a director, and then returning with Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahaani, Johar shared that he was very busy in handling his production house – Dharma Productions. He was also busy handling Koffee With Karan, which is one of the longest running chat shows in India. “Being a studio head, you have many responsibilities and I wanted to direct more often. My primary passion is being a director.” Karan said. “When I sleep at night, I think of stories, I don’t think of conversations I have on a talk show. I want to be remembered as a filmmaker.”

Karan Johar's work in Hollywood

The interesting part of the conversation was when Tatiana asked him if Johar ever thought of working in Hollywood, to which The 51-year-old director recalled his film My Name Is Khan, which was backed by Fox Star Studio, and was released by 20th Century Fox internationally in 2010. “It took a couple of trips to Los Angeles to realise that it is all wonderful and you have a lot of meetings, but my heart is in my country and my cinema is in my heart. I don’t want to leave that. I don’t want to make films without the language that’s raised me”, Johar shared.

Karan Johar wants the world to know more about Bollywood

Lastly Karan Johar added that Hollywood has this misconception that Bollywood is all about songs and dancing. “Yes, we make song and dance movies and we are proud of them, but there are stories made in so many languages and from so many parts of India that are beautiful and should be viewed by audiences. Thank god streaming services are bringing it to the world. The world needs to wake up to Indian stories and storytelling” Johar shared to Variety.

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