On March 4, Bollywood director Karan Johar tweeted that he had officially become the father of twins named Roohi and Yash.
That’s right, our beloved KJo is now taking on “all the responsibilities and duties that come with being a parent.” And following this news, there were nearly 4,000 replies to his tweet, filled with good wishes from fans, and film fraternity peers like Arjun Rampal and Preity Zinta. Even Perez Hilton, the king of Hollywood gossip, dropped in to say “keep doing you and spreading the light“.
But there was the other side too.
For years, Johar has been painfully scrutinised by our heteronormative society. Everything from his choice of clothes, to his gestures, and manner of speaking, and the fact that he never “settled down” is brought up time and time again to prove that he isn’t the “standard Indian man”. Deviation from the norm is punished, and in Johar’s case, people often take to using “gay” as an expletive against him. And he knows it.
Often, to swing the situation in his favour, Johar has played along – on air, on stage, everywhere – and has also engaged in a fair bit of queer-baiting as well.
Even in his more serious moments, he has chosen to stay rather ambiguous about his orientation. But matters of the heart and closet aside, our ever-watchful society never quit attacking him.
Soon after he announced he’d be taking a break from work and social engagements to focus on his children, a scared heteronormative order began outing itself online:
I don't really appreciate your action #karanjohar Getting married and then having children is the real thing to do.
— ajithpanakal (@ajithpanakal) March 5, 2017
And It Became Downright Homophobic:
please raise them properly like but not like gays #KaranJohar
— srinivas (@AlwayTrueIndian) March 5, 2017
Now again happy
— BarbiesWarrior 🇮🇳 (@BarbiesWarrior) March 5, 2017
One of the biggest disadvantages of being gay "You cant make babies so you end up buying one"#KaranJohar
— FILMY UNESCO (@BollywoodUncle) March 5, 2017
#karanjohar Who the hell cares this is no news people are worried that children brought up by him WILL TURN OUT LIKE HIM BLOODY HELL
— Chux Chand (@ChuxChand) March 6, 2017
— Atul Subedi (@atulsubedi) March 6, 2017
— zed k's (@zafar_kamaal) March 5, 2017
— बेचैन लखनवी (@BechainLakhnavi) March 5, 2017
They Even Managed To Be Transphobic:
#KaranJohar is now a father of twins. And all those years back, I was thinking that he would becomea mother some day.
— Malik Tazim Nazir (@malik_dazzling) March 5, 2017
And Maybe Just Confused Too?
— Soumitra Das (@Soumitradas4Das) March 5, 2017
And even when a valid discussion on the ethics of surrogacy was floated, it quickly became inflected with homophobic attacks like these:
— JiTeN (@ChillyShake) March 5, 2017
All these reactions are to be expected.
It’s not just the fact that Johar is a single parent – there’s loads of single parents in India. So what makes his decision unpalatable to so many people? It’s the fact that any person of a ‘non-standard’ sexual orientation (not necessarily, Johar), provided they have the wherewithal, can really do as they please without conforming to society’s very heterosexual ways of living. Johar is setting out to do exactly that, and why shouldn’t he?
There is perhaps more pressure on him to perform his role as a father – at the slightest hiccup, the haters would pour in to denounce him and all non-normative parents like him. Indian society is going to hold him to an entirely different standard, but Johar is no stranger to all of this, and so far, he’s cruised through it with impeccable grace. As he says, “I have prepared myself mentally, physically, emotionally and logistically.”
And we wish him all the love and luck.
Featured image source: CNN-News 18/YouTube.