Madhureeta Mukherjee (BOMBAY TIMES; June 17, 2017)

He's a man of many skills - director, producer, writer, anchor - all rolled into one. The 'Jo' of many trades, trying to make the most of them all. And now, he has taken on a new role of a lifetime, with twice as much energy, passion and love. He's the brand new daddy in town, who says, “I am a caretaker, caterer and housekeeper. It is like being the man of the house with a new responsibility.“ With Father's Day coming up tomorrow, Karan Johar tells us about the bliss of parenthood, the conversations he has with his babies, and the role his other star kids like Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan will play in their lives. Read on...

This year has been a turning point in your life, with what you call your “biggest production“ - the birth of your lovely babies, Roohi and Yash. How life-changing has it really been?
It's beautifully overwhelming; it has changed the vibe in the house. I'm happiest about the fact that it has brought back a new energy in my mother's (Hiroo Johar) demeanour, and just to see that means everything to me. Everytime I enter my home and see her having conversations with the babies, it is endearing. Everything they say about babies coming into your life is true, none of it is exaggerated.

We know of Karan Johar as the filmmaker, the chat show host, et al. Tell us about KJo as the brand new daddy...
Well, parenting becomes a part of your beat; it's the way you adapt. I have always been exceptionally resilient in adapting to most circumstances, but when I see those faces and I know that they are mine. There is an inherent switch within me that turns on. The one thing that I would like to say is that as a parent, you have to follow your own path; everyone has volumes of advice to offer, at times it's even contradictory. You have to find your feet and do your own thing. I get a lot of advice on everything - from formula milk and nursery schools to the do's and dont's of nurturing babies - but I do it my way. Suno sabki, karo apni.

With the entry of her grandkids, has your mom's focus completely shifted to them?
I don't think that my mom's focus will ever shift from me (laughs!). I will always remain the be-all and end-all of her life. What is great is that she looks at the kids as a big part of me, and now, that's a big part of her. My mom has adapted really well; she knows that today, some things are done differently and she wants to learn those afresh.

Most of us fear being lonely. Was your decision to have babies ever driven by the fact that you didn't want to be alone?
Did my children come into my life because there was emptiness and loneliness? No, because children don't fill that part. It is not the part that lies unloved that they fill. The kids utilize the love that is within me. So, they don't fill the empty space in my heart, they consume the love within. I look at it that way. The part that is empty in you will probably continue to be that way. Many people walk around lonely, and children can't fill that void. The kind of love you are talking about is romance or eternal love... If you don't find that, your heart can very well lie empty. There is abundant love in other parts of your soul, and when children come into your life, you can feel that they are energising that love. I guess that's what the birth of my children has done to my life.

You are known to take breaks and scoot off to your favourite destinations around the world. This time, you took paternity leave. Quite a change?
It was a great phase. I took time off from work for a month-and-a-half. During that time, I became a caretaker, caterer and housekeeper - all rolled into one. It is like being the man of the house with a new responsibility. Suddenly, I am BFFs with everyone in the kitchen as I am dealing with them most of the time. Earlier, I never got into the day-to-day functions of the house, now I have to. I have to coordinate between the kitchen and the nursery. I feel I have given birth to lovely babies and for the past few months, I have been marketing them to my friends and family. Finally, when they are one year old, I will talk about how my beautiful film has released.

In India, we rarely come across men who are single dads by choice. It must have been a difficult and well-thought-out decision. Even later on, just explaining all this to the children will be no mean feat...
I don't know of a third single dad by choice, besides Tusshar and me. More power to Tusshar for taking the step and giving hope and strength to many others, including myself. Of course, this was always in my radar and mindspace. I put a great deal of thought into it; after all, it is a huge responsibility and you have to emotionally equip yourself for it. Infrastructure, facility and resources are all secondary. The emotional machinery is what you need the most to raise and nurture a child. You have to be emotionally ready to bring life into this world. Then, you have to ensure that those lives are given all the love and care. What we say and what we do in the initial years is what truly designs the mind of the child and they live with it for the rest of their lives. When we speak of people going through emotional issues in their adult lives, a lot of it traces back to their childhood. So, our responsibility as parents is that much more gigantic. We have to be emotionally ready for that, everything else is just a modality. I felt I was ready for it. I was at a great midpoint of my life, now my second half has to be better. The only way it could have been better is with these beautiful children. In the past, at the end of the day when I hit the bed, I would sleep either with thoughts of the next morning or the pressures of the day gone by. Now, I hold on to the visual of my smiling babies (though they rarely smile at me at this stage). We have a very strong conversation going on between us. I talk a lot to them and I am sure that something is settling in somewhere. I also sing to them in my besura awaaz, so I am doing a lot that is wrong as well, because if one of them has a chance at a career in singing, I have already nipped that in the bud! I'm sure that by now, they know that their father is the most tuneless and tone-deaf human being.

What about your other adopted kids like Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan and Sidharth Malhotra? Have they taken on their part of responsibility, too?
Their roles have been designated - Varun and Sidharth are their chachus and Alia is their didi. Well, Alia was always the daughter, she is the first-born in that sense. The kids have to call her didi. She drops in often to see them and I really want them all to have a special bond. I want my kids to know that they have family even if they are not biologically related. My cousins are now their aunts and buas and I have young actors who are their chachas. Roohi and Yash are already related to a lot of people in the industry. They have to be ready for that. I am very clear that in six months, they will be in a crèche in Dharma (Productions) and they will be a big part of my system. I refuse to be a paranoid parent. My parents weren't like that and I won't be like that, either. I was a shy and introvert kid, but from a young age, my mom encouraged me to interact with people. My parents were people-friendly and I want to raise my kids to be like them.

On Mother's Day, Farah Khan sweetly tweeted to wish you, and now, Father's Day is coming up (June 18). Playing mom and dad to two kids is double responsibility and double the joy too, right?
I felt that Mother's Day was totally my day, and I will feel the same way on Father's Day. In my lifetime, I have the privilege of being a mom and a dad, how superb is that! Clearly, both Mother's Day and Father's Day are mine and I will make sure that my kids celebrate both. I will also get gifts on both these days. I think that I am the best 'deal' for my kids, as they are getting two for the price of one. Of course, they are my superstars and the biggest stars that I have ever worked with, as I have to really work with them.Needless to say, I am overjoyed at the thought of it.