Supporting Role

21

A saying goes, "You make friends for a season, for a reason or for life."

A saying goes, "You make friends for a season, for a reason or for life." Karan Johar and Apoorva Mehta tick the life box. It started in Breach Candy's Green Lawns High School. When Johar was shunted to a new section in Class VI, he was so miserable without his friends that he complained to his mother, who then spoke to the principal. Mehta recalls the day. "Our principal came to the class and asked who would be Karan's friend. I raised my hand and that was it," he says. Even though Johar was later shifted back to his previous section, their friendship continued, and grew. And though the two followed their own career paths — Johar getting into films, and Mehta going to business school – they remained best friends.

Years later, the classroom scene repeated itself. Only this time the stakes were higher. Johar, an established filmmaker by now, having delivered hits such as Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, needed someone to steer his company Dharma Productions, as his father, Yash Johar, was ill. He called on Mehta, and they met in London, where the latter was handling the international operations of Yash Raj Films. All it took for Johar was to pop the question and Mehta knew what he had to do. "We met in the afternoon. I was stunned for a while when Karan asked me to join his company. Though I did take a day to mull it over, the decision was made the moment he asked. I couldn't say no to him," says Mehta.

Johar credits the rise of Dharma Productions to his collaboration with Mehta. "Losing my father when I was just 32 was my biggest emotional loss. He was also the guiding light of my company. Without him, I felt ill-equipped to deal with life and business. I had to carry on because I wanted to take his vision forward. Besides my mother, I only have two cousins who I'm close to. I had to depend on friends to get over the loss. Apoorva came to my rescue — he left his job in London and took charge of the company. We have built Dharma together," he says.

... contd.

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