The Dostana Jinx: How a title that launched a banner is now bad luck!

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Karan Johar’s dad, late Yash Johar, launched Dharma Productions with the 1980 super-hit Dostana (Publicity Photo courtesy Rajiv Vijayakar)

October 8, 1980. One of the now-foremost banners in Mumbai—Dharma Productions—released its maiden film, Dostana, a Raj Khosla-directed biggie, written by top writers Salim-Javed, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Shatrughan Sinha and Zeenat Aman and with music by Laxmikant-Pyarelal. The romantic triangle against a backdrop of friendship (between the two male leads) and crime took a whopper opening and proved the third biggest (super-) hit of the year. The film was produced by Yash Johar.

Nov. 14, 2008. Dharma and the now-late Yash Johar’s son Karan Johar released its second film with the same title, starring Amitabh Bachchan’s son, Abhishek Bachchan, John Abraham and Proyanka Chopra Jonas. Directed by newbie Tarun Mansukhani, the rom-com spoke of two friends pretending to be gay to be able to rent a fancy apartment in America. The movie proved a moderate success, but paved the way for more stories of all genres about homosexuality, as it was the first film on gays to actually prove a success.

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After the success of the film, Dostana 2 was announced by Johar with the same heroes, director, and Katrina Kaif. Soon, however, it was said that Kaif was no longer in, and then the film was dropped. Off and on, however, rumors surfaced about a new script being “locked” (Mumbai parlance for approved to be filmed), but there was no further progress. Mansukhani’s next was Drive, which was released by Johar in 2019 on an OTT platform to reportedly cut losses involved in reshoots.

But in 2019, Johar announced Dostana 2 with Kartik Aaryan, Laksh Lalwani and Janhvi Kapoor. The film was to be now directed by Collin D’Cunha. The movie’s shoot began in Amritsar Nov. 2019, but the lockdown aborted the shoot. The shoot was to resume in Apr. 2021. But on Apr. 16, Aaryan left the film citing creative differences. However, a controversy arose when insiders said that Johar had removed him from the movie.

The reasons remained controversial: one theory was that Aaryan demanded a higher price midway after a film of his did well. Others said that Aaryan kept delaying the shoot of and behaved unprofessionally, irking Johar. This, it was suggested, was because he was dissatisfied with the second half of the film’s script. Johar was miffed as he thought that Aaryan had read the script and approved it. He had even given interviews stating that the film would push boundaries for him.

Dostana (2008) starred Abhishek Bachchan, John Abraham and Priyanka Chopra Jonas. Photo: Trailer video grab

Yet another buzz said that with Aaryan was “underpaid” (as per his market price) by Johar, who refused to hike his fees midway. He was compensated instead by being given another film by Johar. But he soon found himself replaced by Vicky Kaushal in it! And Aaryan was put off.

The net outcome was that Johar blacklisted the actor, stating that he would never work with him again. Their professional Dostana was over. At that point, Aaryan had also been signed for another Dharma film to be directed by Gunjan Saxena director Sharan Sharma. Buzz was that even Akshay Kumar was sought as a replacement for him in Dostana 2, which on the face seemed absurd in view of everything. And, naturally, Johar said there was no truth in the news.

But now in Dec. 2021, Johar has finally dropped the film. The losses clearly had to be written off. His protégés Janhvi Kapoor and Laksh Lalwani are doing other films with him. Aaryan, of course, is quite busy. And so is Johar as filmmaker, including with his latest directorial Rocky Auir Rani Ki Prem Kahani.

The title that began the Dharma saga is no longer lucky and has now become like some hex!

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