By Ram Khatry, Sydney
20 October 2016
In a conversation Vogue India published yesterday, Karan Johar termed Prabal Gurung as a “completely Bollywood-obsessed soul” who is far more better-informed about Bollywood music and dance than the producer of the blockbuster romance Kuch Kuch Hota Hai himself.
If that already impressed the Indian producer-director then what happened next the night they first met blew his mind away.
The two apparently met for “a quick coffee”, introduced by Karan Johar’s friend Koel Purie. But “coffee turned into a drink, and then many glasses of red wine” followed by singing which in turn led to a dinner at New York’s elite eatery Waverly Inn. Following dinner, Mr Johar’s friend Kaajal Anand suggested that they (there were apparently a mob of twelve) should go to a nightclub called Boom Boom Boom but the 44 year old Bollywood luminary gave up hope because there were twelve of them and it was a Friday night. So the entry “seemed an impossible task” to him. But everything got sorted the moment the man at the door saw Prabal Gurung, Mr Johar exclaimed during the conversation – “As soon as the gentleman at the door saw Prabal, though, we glided in like complete A-listers. More than his Bollywood knowledge, more than his love for Hindi cinema, the fact that he got me into a hip night spot on Friday night made me think, “I want to know this guy better.” (Laughs) Call me frivolous, call me opportunistic, call me superficial!”
He has also showered accolades on the Singapore-born Nepal-raised world famous designer for having maintained his South Asian heritage while at the same time making a mark at the world stage.
Mr Johar said that the journey the philanthropist designer has had in the world of fashion is “the stuff biopics are made of”. His bonhomie with the young Nepalese American designer became evident when he self-deprecatingly referred to his own journey in Bollywood as “simple” – in comparison to that of Mr Gurung, “See, my journey is pretty simple. My father made movies and then, of course, destiny and talent played a part. But Prabal comes from a family that had nothing to do with fashion.”
Prabal Gurung was apparently in Delhi for nine years before he moved to New York to try his luck as a designer, initially working off his small apartment. His life in India hooked him into Bollywood with movies like Umrao Jaan and Chandni bringing “an idea of grace to the way I cut clothes”, he confided during the conversation.
“What I love about Prabal is that he walks with Indian cinema and Nepalese tradition on his sleeve,” Karan Johar was quoted as saying.
Although the Vogue post, bylined to Karan Johar himself, does not outline the timeframe of their first meeting, it appears the two met well after Prabal had already become “one of the most touted names in the world of fashion”. He had already dressed Michelle Obama by then.
…And here the story takes a little romantic twist.
Following his departure for New York from Delhi, once he began building his name and brand, once he began dressing Hollywood actresses, Prabal Gurung used to call his mother in Nepal the “first thing every morning”. During those telephonic chats with his mom, he would try to impress his mother with the names of the Hollywood heartthrobs and guess what his mother told him, “That’s great. But let’s talk when the First Lady wears something.” This should tell Prabal Gurung’s fans how his journey to the moon took its roots.
And then one morning he did call his mom in Nepal. Because the First Lady of the United States of American had just put on his dress.
“Mom, let’s talk,” he said.