Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy Holds A One-On-One Session With Karan Johar in Davos

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy Holds A One-On-One Session With Karan Johar in Davos
About yesterday: Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy shared the stage with Bollywood producer Karan Johar at the World Economic Forum in Davos for a tête-à-tête on the film industry, society and the arts.

In conversation at the WEF annual meeting, the two industry giants Sharmeen and Karan spoke about their upbringing , their influence as artists and making films that are influential as they are controversial. What was interesting to note here is how similar they are.

One of the highlights of the chat was surely when Johar appreciated Chinoy and referred to her as a fantastic film maker.

“Even though I have yet to see your films, I am sure they are outstanding," said Karan Johar. "I felt so proud hearing your speech at the Oscars. The impact which your work has is amazing, my work is just appreciated at a national level but you have made an impact internationally and I am so honoured to be sharing this space with you.”

In appreciation of Johar's kind words, Chinoy reverted by expressing how she had grown up watching his movies and how they allowed every Pakistani woman to have a dream, since at that time Pakistan's film industry had a decline and Bollywood was all that we had.

Sharmeen Obaid added, "Your films made me realise what love was, and that's a really powerful thing for women in our part of the world. I felt you told stories that allowed us to dream, whether it was about love, or about religion or about sexual orientation -- all of the things we felt and wanted you were telling us on the big screen. In Pakistan when I was growing up there was no film industry of our own to speak of, so Bollywood was our film industry. So thank you for all of the memories you have given us."

Other than both the filmmakers sharing having motivating fathers, another mutual factor the two shared was the backlash they received from their respective countries for being outspoken. Chinoy was critisised for showing a negative side of Pakistan through her documentaries, while Johar was condemned for  casting Fawad in his movies.

Karan explained,

"When you talk about criticism I completely feel connected. I feel like you're my soulmate in that respect because I feel like when I wake up to that Twitter trolling or that abuse... Initially it was anger that moved to complete indifference and now it's amusement. Like, now if I'm not criticised in the morning or trolled or abused to death I feel like it's something missing in the day."

"Faceless people say the nastiest things. And like eventually, they may think whatever about your life or your cinema or your sexuality. Sometimes you may give an opinion and they'll just be like 'Gay' and I wonder how that's a response."

"You feel like you have to build an armor of steel, because, we're in the business where we make movies. We're opinion makers as a result of being filmmakers... What amazes me, Sharmeen, is the way your approach is and your demeanour, considering that you have to go back home and combat much more than I do. You've been much braver than I am."

When asked about Fawad Khan in conversation, the Indian filmmaker stated,

“I am very fond of Fawad Khan and I think he is immensely talented, I have great regard for talent but the time when Ae Dil Hai Mushkil was to be released, I faced so many problems that it became a very tough time for me. I honestly don’t know where we are heading, but I know for sure that I do not ever want to go through that ordeal again. From the bottom of my heart, I wish Fawad finds a great platform for himself as he is a brilliant actor.”

Other than praising each other for their talents, the light-hearted conversation took a turn towards the current situation that India and Pakistan are facing where both the film makers agreed that art and music should not be affected by the political instability the two neighbouring countries are facing.

Conclusively, as Johar openly declared that he will continue to make love stories while Sharmeen said, "I would love to work with you as I feel that a boundary doesn’t make one an enemy. We need to go beyond boundaries as it is up to us to make a peaceful future for our children.”

Watch the entire conversation here,