An Unsuitable Boy – A Review

An Unsuitable Boy by Karan Johar (With Poonam Saxena)


I picked up An Unsuitable Boy with some amount of excitement because I like Karan Johar. There, I said it. I like Karan Johar and I like his films, well most of them. But more than his films I like his off-screen persona. His interviews are fun to watch. He’s funny, warm and articulate and completely at ease with himself.

If someone can speak well, I figured, he could write well too. And I wasn’t too wrong.

What I loved about the book

In An Unsuitable Boy Karan Johar talks to you through the pages. The writing flows like an easy conversation, simple, honest and straightforward.

He talks about his rather difficult childhood, his problems with weight, his introverted personality, his effeminate mannerisms, his not being good at anything and then of the turnaround – how he made friends, found his feet and finally, quite by chance, found his calling in life. I felt for him – the pressure of being not good enough despite belonging to a privileged family – I got that.

I’d already heard a lot of his story in bits and pieces through his numerous interviews and talk shows. Reading it in the pages of the book was like revisiting his childhood with him. He goes on to talk about his entry into the world of films. We get a huge slice of behind the scene action during the making of Dilwale Dulhaniya, Kuchh Kuchh, K3G and other Dharma films right from how the story was conceptualised, the dialogues written and the costumes organised. That was quite a treat.

He makes for compelling reading, touching just the right chords with his self-effacing story-telling and his honesty.

And then the second half happened…

The conversation turns into a ramble, self-effacing turns self-congratulatory and the story-telling turns tedious, self-indulgent and oh so repetitive.

Over and over again he talks of Aditya Chopra, Shah Rukh, Niranjan, Apoorva and a host  of other friends. I understand they were instrumental in his journey and he wants to give them credit, but that’s where the book loses its connect and becomes one long haze that means little to the reader.

He goes on to comment on love and sex as also the future of Bollywood – all of that remains a monotonous commentary. The narration too gets haphazard and clumsy. I am left wondering why on earth didn’t the editor do anything about it?

However, despite the shortcomings the one thing that stands out is the complete honesty with which he has penned this memoir laying bare his most secret demons.



Told you he was honest!

Last word: If you like Karan Johar you should give this a shot.

31 Replies to “An Unsuitable Boy – A Review”

  1. Hmmm Interesting. I like Karan Johar too though he sometimes goes over the top. I think it is a tough job to look objectively at your life. Very few people can share the warts with the larger public. I also wonder if there is enough freshness in what he says considering so much about him is already in the public domain. Maybe l will pick this up when it comes at the library.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like him. I have my issues with him. But I still like him. Not necessarily as the director/producer or whatever else he is/does in the movie business. The movies are okay. Some are good, some not so much. But I adore him as the talk show host of Koffee with Karan.

    Having said that, I was unsure about picking this book up. But after reading your review, I think I might find it worth a read too. Because strangely enough, even though I haven’t read this book yet, reading your review makes me think that I will have the exact same feelings about it. Because I do enjoy him when he is being his honest and candid self, and I also know he is kinda sorta narcissistic at times, which is annoying.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One more thing, which I should have said in the review – he has this thing about forming a coterie of people and then going on and on about them. That makes the listener feel excluded, in this case it is the reader who feels left out. I will still maintain, though, that I enjoyed the first part tremendously.


      1. Oh yes, I know what you mean. He does that on Koffee with Karan too. But I guess, I am so used to him behaving that way, that it doesn’t bother me as much now.


  3. I like Karan Johar’s Koffee with Karan and his tweets are good. Do I want to read it? Not really.. at least not now. Maybe sometime in future. I loved your review. DDLJ behind the scenes is very tempting to read.


  4. I am not Karan Johar fan (I liked him in DDLJ though. :)), but I use to like his movies especially ‘Wake Up Sid’ is my favourite (but then, this film was not his directorial project). Not now, maybe because Indian Film Industry is experimenting with different styles and it’s working.

    For this book, I’ll skip as this kind of books don’t interest me plus narcissistic/repetitive tone annoys me (however, I liked the quotes and the honesty).
    But, as usual, I loved your review! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Love your review as always for the honesty in it. But won’t pick up the book for a number of reasons, mostly the second half as you’ve mentioned. Plus I read one book by a Bollywood actress and that didn’t sit well with me although people I know loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I never thought I’d like Biographies. But of late I seem to reading more and more of them and liking them too. Have you read Naseeruddin Shah’s? That might change your mind. Some of them have such chequered lives, it’s fun to read.


  6. Read the book too… Agree Its Karan’s ramblings and the second half failed to keep me hooked… Average reading for me a bit over hyped book i must say. But then for a karan johar fan this book does give insight into his personal life.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This sounds good, but, I don’t know if I will like to invest my time and money in a book that has a rambling second half! 😛
    I so like reading your reviews, Tulika! Am learning so much from you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I almost feel sorry I seem to be putting off people from the book. It isn’t bad, just that the second half becomes drab. And thanks for that compliment, We all are learning from each other all the time I think :-).


  8. I like Karan’s sense of humor and wit. It’s one of the best we have in bollywood.

    I was looking forward to read this book. In my head it felt like ‘Mr Funnybones’ to me. maybe I’ll pick this one up for a breezy read.

    Thanks for the review Tulika.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I like his articles, but not his movies. You know that self-congratulatory tone also appears in another Indian personality’s memoir. Not to be harsh, but makes me wonder if they both had the same ghost writer or something 😛

    Liked by 1 person

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