Sultan of Swing

Sultan of Swing

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Mitrajit Bhattacharya gets up, close and personal with Box-office Badshah Karan Johar to learn more about his love for the good things in life and Timond


MB: The watch industry is known to appoint highest profile brand ambassadors who are largely actors worldwide. You’re an exception. What made you join the bandwagon?

KJ: Well, I think things have changed drastically in our country in the sphere of entertainment. I’m kind of an exception in strange ways because I’m a filmmaker who already had a certain presence on TV and have always had an external presence which decides my behind the camera position whether it’s been hosting award ceremonies or having a certain public presence and then hosting the talk show. I have kind of emerged as some kind of a brand of my own, which is why I’m not somebody you can put into a category.

There are normally actors who endorse products like watches, which have always been the premium product to endorse. Yes, there’s never been a filmmaker but as I said, I’ve been an exception in a strange way. There are not a lot of me. Having said that, there are more filmmakers in the country like Farhan Akhtar who is associated with a watch.

Everyone is also sort of doing things now on TV, whether it is hosting shows or judging music competitions or whatever it may be. I wanted to do it and had no problem with it. I believe anything you do to enhance your brand can only help and get more eyeballs into cinema theatres when you come out with a product. I think if you make yourself a brand then you leverage it effectively. In addition, there would be that many more eyeballs for your film.

I feel if I’m doing a talk show or hosting an award ceremony, more people hear of me, know me, maybe like me. But that many more people would come and see my film; so for me it’s also somewhere a business exercise and a brand building exercise. Endorsing a product puts you out there.

Of course it’s very important that you have in mind that what you are endorsing is a brand fit with you. Like me personally, I epitomise a certain kind of lifestyle and luxury that is predominantly visible in my cinema. So I get associated a lot with luxury brands, watches being a premium luxury brand. When Timond comes to me, it’s exciting because it’s a brand that is penetrating the market, so you grow with it and they grow with you. It’s an association that you enjoy.

As opposed to an already existing brand, I felt those watches are already established and you’re just one more ambassador for them. Here it feels good when the sales are good. You’re part of a growing family and that’s the reason why I considered it and am very happy be associated with it.

MB: With most of the international brands having come into India, what made you decide in favour of endorsing home-grown brand like Timond?

KJ: I believe in everything home-grown, be it my relationships or the products I endorse. I like to have a certain kind of rapport and relationship with the people I’m working with, be it in a film or in a brand that I’m about to endorse. I like that kind of vibe. I found it nice that it was a family that is being projected, a family that is putting a product out. I like that as opposed to kind of a detached international label where you’re just one lost soul in a corporate setup.

MB: You are a strong protagonist in pushing Indian films the world over…

KJ: That would be giving it too much thought, which I didn’t do. I liked the fact that it was new and that it would start and grow with me. A family that grows together is the way I looked at it.

MB: What are the core values that brand Karan Johar rubs on to brand Timond?

KJ: By virtue of the way I am and the way I’ve been projected is what helps. Luxury goes with me. My films have always had an urban, luxurious, glamorous look about them. Everyone has a projected lifestyle; every film of mine has a certain kind of glamour, gloss, glory and luxury attached to it. I epitomise a kind of high life in a certain way and I’ve always projected that.

An expensive, stylish watch is a prerequisite of that world of luxury. I would never get a product that would not connect with this world, like, say, a Louis Vuitton that I did with KANK. They came to me because they hadn’t done that attachment with anybody else. They felt that there was a brand fit. I suppose when people look at me they know I’m someone who would wear a nice watch.

Maybe KJ epitomises an urban style – chic, elegant, high glamour, fashion – that would rub off on the brand I endorse. What I like about Timond watches is that they have a little bling element, which I like a lot personally; I don’t like very simple watches.

MB: How deeply do you get involved with the product range the brand develops?

KJ: I get involved in the visual stage.

MB: What I mean is most brand ambassadors over a period of time give inputs on the watches per se and…

KJ: Well, it’ll happen maybe a little later; it’s still too early. I had suggested having big watches, which they’ve done.

MB: How do you think is the premium watch industry developing in this country? Do you see India being a major market in the future?

KJ: Firstly, retail is a huge part of the growth within us and retail is the future. So everyone’s out there buying things, wanting, shopping, desiring to wear the best, be it clothes or watches. So we know that it’s a big bubble that’s not going to burst but will grow larger and larger.

Having said that, India is now perceived as a fashion space in the world. All the international brands are coming in. In the last two years you have had all the international labels making their way. India, in any case, is a huge market. As far as the watch industry goes, I think everyone’s heard of all the brands. Wearing a watch is big status symbol. It’s a new phenomenon and that is the first thing people are noticing. A watch is a big in-your-face status symbol. That has emerged strongly, especially in the upper middle class and richer circles; it’s also penetrating lower than that.

Ten years ago there was only Titan. Now there are so many choices, even within those international labels. I think it’s a booming industry. A great watch defines you and embodies your personality. I think it’s only going to get bigger and bigger.

MB: How important are brands in your personal life?

KJ: Brands come with a certain promise of quality. However, personally I’m not brand struck. When it comes to watches, brands matter to me but when it comes to some other things then I’m not hung up. A watch, a car, dark glasses, and shoes, these are where I look at brands. But with my clothes, my jeans and everything else, it’s fine.

MB: Give us your favourites in terms of suits, jackets, shoes, shirts, sunglasses and leather accessories, like when you’re not wearing a Dunhill. Suits and jackets?

KJ: Armani…

MB: Shoes?

KJ: Prada, more for sportswear and Gucci for formal wear…

MB: Sunglasses?

KJ: Tom Ford…

MB: Leather accessories?

KJ: Dunhill, Dunhill, Dunhill…

MB: What’s your favourite attire?

KJ: In office I’m casual; I like grungy casual actually. I’ll wear torn jeans and keds and a fun T-shirt or a shirt. Comfort is very critical.

MB: Lastly, your tips on grooming.

KJ: Don’t go by what the world wears. Wear what looks great on you. Look at your personality, body type, image, carriage before choosing your attire. Dress for yourself, your body, your personality.