I don’t like to diss a biography or an autobiography because after all, it is someone’s life put on paper for the world to read. There are enough detractors anyway, for every celebrity out there. Just a picture on Instagram is bound to poke the haters to spew venom. So imagine what a 300-page book about your feelings and thoughts will attract.
But – there is always a but, isn’t there – this book particularly annoyed me to no end. Yes, it’s a real person’s life. Yes, there are feelings in the picture. Aren’t they always there? Karan Johar’s autobiography, An Unsuitable Boy makes me angry on so many levels. I read it months ago, but I shake my head at the memory even now.
Before anyone jumps to conclusions, let me make a few points clear.
- I am not homophobic. In fact, I think our LGBTQ fellows should get their rightful place in society. And I was mighty impressed with Karan Johar when he came out. I genuinely am happy for him.
- I don’t hate Karan Johar. I like him and his movies, with just one exception that I won’t mention.
- As a reader, I am a stickler for good writing. Fragmented, repetitive writing pisses me off to no end.
Now that that’s out of the way, let me tell you what did and did not appeal to me in An Unsuitable Boy.
An Unsuitable Boy – The Positives:
Celebrities are people, too. Many-a-times, we forget this simple fact and hound them to no end, judging their every move. In An Unsuitable Boy, Karan Johar lets us in to his mind – a mind that is no different from ours, one that has as many insecurities as ourselves. He reminisces old friendships, celebrates new ones, and stresses on how important it is to maintain them in life.
Karan Johar reveals his frailties, the ones that can bring him to his feet, and his strengths, the ones that can help him keep his head high in the most trying times. It is difficult for the common man to speak up about what’s troubling him. So imagine how difficult it must be for someone in the limelight to come out and talk about their deepest troubles.
For this, and this alone, I commend Johar for bringing out An Unsuitable Boy.
He also dishes more on his relationship with Shah Rukh Khan, of the importance he holds in his life. In addition to SRK, he talks about Aditya Chopra, Kajol and Kareena Kapoor, and the rifts he had with them. But more than the ‘awww’ factor that comes with watching celebrities being best friends, it spiraled downwards into a cringe-fest.
Let me explain why.
An Unsuitable Boy – The Negatives:
Every book should goes through a stringent editing process. But it looks like the publishers of Karan Johar’s autobiography thought it wouldn’t be necessary because of Johar’s celebrity status. My obsession with good writing ensured that I rolled my eyes and shook my head more often while reading this book than I had in my whole life so far. An Unsuitable Boy almost seemed like a play on Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy. [Oh dear.]
The narrative is stunted and fragmented, as if a five-year-old who is just learning the language decided to write his life story. With absolutely no continuity and a repetitiveness that is annoying to no end, it seems like the sentences are merely present to build up paragraphs and not to make proper sense.
A recurring theme: “I used to play with Y. I loved playing with Y. Y was one of my best friends.”
But WHY would they not rectify the writing? Does editing only apply to aspiring writers and not celebrities? Can they get away with anything they write as long as they are putting in the masala? How fair is it for those who write well and get rejected time and time again? It’s infuriating to say the least. And ‘infuriating’ seems like a gross understatement.
Coming to SRK, Kajol, and Kareena Kapoor, Karan Johar washed his dirty linen in public. There’s a thin line between wanting to reveal one’s insecurities to the world and making declarations one cannot keep up. And almost half of An Unsuitable Boy is an ode to Shah Rukh Khan – a temple that crops up everywhere you look. It gets to a point where you find it annoying. I get why you would want to publicize your friendship with SRK, but there’s a limit to everything, and this frequency is a hard one!
Final Thoughts – An Unsuitable Boy:
I feel bad for giving this book such a low rating. But bad writing, bad editing, and repetitiveness are my Kryptonite. I absolutely hate them and they make me so, so angry. And An Unsuitable Boy is full of these from start to end. No hard feelings against the man, but this autobiography I can’t help rating as I do. An Unsuitable Boy is unsuitable to my taste!
Better luck next time, Karan Johar!
Rating: 2/5 stars
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