I raised this question of whether An Unsuitable Boy by Karan Johar is an autobiography at all in an earlier post. Here I am giving my view on that.
I read the book with the purpose of gaining insight into what it means to be a gay man in a country where being gay is still illegal. Even if he was from a society where they are most accepted. While I did know that he did not come out publically as gay in the book because of the legal reasons (not everyone is an activist and I respect the fact that he doesn’t even pretend to be one just because of his position in society) but I expected him to talk about the difficulties or I should rather say challenges.
I was disappointed. It was not that he did not touch the subject at all. Karan was rather forthcoming and called himself effeminate many times but there were no real challenges he refers to. He did say that he went through some voice therapy to make his voice more masculine and little things like that. It is either that he did not have to face too many challenges or it is that he did not want the book to be about his being a gay man.
This, however, does not completely answer why I refrain from calling the book an autobiography. The way he has written the book is more like a narrative. In a style that I am writing right now. It is like he is chatting with us. He goes back to his childhood and his school. He talks about his struggles and mentions his feelings at the time without going into too many details at any point in time. Also, he does not follow a timeline. He follows subjects. This makes the book seem like a casual conversation; which I will say is rather candid in nature.
Something I will like to mention about the book is – it is an honest book coming from the heart. While reading you will feel it that Karan’s mind is what the book tells us it is. It is crude where he rants about Kajol and her unimportance in his current life. It is warm when he speaks of Adi Chopra and Shah Rukh Khan. It is sad when he talks about how friendship took a backseat in the business partnership he has with Apoorva Mehta. You will feel the honesty he has put in the book. I will still call it as an account of parts of his life and not something that chronicles it.
Hope you enjoy reading the book because I certainly did enjoy the candor.