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Karan Johar aims at U.S. with new Shah Rukh film
BERLIN (Reuters) - Karan Johar, the director of superstar Shah Rukh Khan's film about post 9/11 intolerance in the United States said on Friday he hopes "My Name is Khan" will reach a wider audience than his previous Bollywood productions.
Johar told Reuters the film, about an Indian family in the United States whose happy lives are thrown into turmoil amid a backdrop of growing prejudice sweeping across America against Muslims, would surely appeal to his loyal Bollywood following.
"I made it to tell a story and if the content drives a wider audience, then why not?" Johar said after the world premiere of "My Name is Khan" at the Berlin film festival. "Every film maker's dream and vision is to reach out to wide, wide audiences to make sure the film gets viewed by many. That's my dream."
The film, which alternates between English and Hindi, is about a man named Rizvan Khan, a respectable Muslim played by Khan who suffers from Asperger syndrome, a mild form of autism.
Khan falls in love with a single mother, played by Indian actress Kajol, who runs a thriving hair salon. But their happily-ever-after is shattered by the spread of prejudice against Muslims following the Sept. 11 attacks.
"It's a film I've had with me for three years," said Johar, one of India's leading young directors.
Khan, one of the world's biggest film stars, suffered the humiliation of being detained and questioned for two hours on his way into the United States at an airport in August, apparently because of his name, which is common in Muslim societies.
Johar, who made other films like "Kal Ho Naa Ho" (Tomorrow May Never Come) and "Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna" (Never Say Goodbye) in New York, was eager to break away from the Bollywood style that celebrates elaborate music, costumes and sets.
"It's also, pardon me for saying this, but a point I really wanted to prove," Johar said.
"I was slotted as someone who makes bubble gum, candy floss, feel-good, diaspora-friendly films full of love and glamour and gloss and not really moving the cinematic bar at all. I used to wonder whether I was really capable.
"I didn't know how it would turn out. But it was really an endeavour to kind of be out there in the cinematic world and say I can do something that is not within my comfort zone. So there is a mild defiance in my film making this time, I must admit."
(Writing by Erik Kirschbaum, editing by Paul Casciato)
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