Book review: The Unsuitable Boy


The Unsuitable Boy by Karan Johar is a book straight from the heart. It tugs at your heart the way his movies do. This is one of the most candid and honest books you will read. Johar begins with his childhood; a childhood that had all parental love and affection but a loneliness that even food could not remove. He always felt he was different from his peers. He says that his gestures were feminine, which did not make life any easier for him. The word ‘Pansy’ stuck to him as a shame which took him years to come in terms with. Even much later in life when he first paid for sex, he was extremely conscious of his own body.

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Johar is a fine storyteller. The book is written so candidly that it feels like a coffee table conversation. He takes us through his childhood, college days, and his foray into movies, to his breakup with Kajol. Johar bares his heart. What is so beautiful about this book is that Johar comes across as a boy next door who made his dreams come true.

It takes a lot of courage to show one’s vulnerable side. And he shows it, without apology.

He talks very openly about his body image issues, his two unrequited loves and losing his virginity at the age of 26. It is definitely not easy to say that he lost his virginity to paid sex. But he talks about it with equal élan, as about the movies he made, his need for approval and finally of acceptance. Throughout the book, you hear about the who’s who of Bollywood. From Yash Chopra to Shahrukh Khan, everyone makes an entry.

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If we take away Bollywood from the book, we see that this book is about relationships. Of the agony, a young boy has when he is body shamed, a filmmaker who feels that he does not get enough credit for his work.

This book, rarely for India, talks about a man’s relationship with his family, friends and work, where none is perfect, but there are tremendous highs and lows.

Even his relationship with Shahrukh had its low and his friendship with Kajol came to an end. But the best part of Johar is that he has a very dignified tone when he talks about his highs or lows. He is telling his life story, which is messy like anyone else’s, but told with such dignity that you would want to take a lesson from him. He takes jibes at himself, yet does not demean himself. He talks about the controversies, his helplessness at times, but you don’t sense bitterness. He talks about his heartbreaks and then his phase of depression, but he does not ask to be pitied, which is an art rare in the world we live in.

This book should be read for its honesty. It should be read mostly by young people, to know that we all lose, we are all imperfect, we all have heartbreak, yet we can be stars. In today’s age and time, where we filter even our photos to look super perfect, here is a man who runs with abandon and shows us how.

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