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Dosti - Friends forever?

Maybe it's in the air. Maybe it a bhai-product of the extra-cheesy gal-guy thing that has taken over the minds and libidos of so many filmmakers.

But goodness gracious!...So many films about male bonding....from Amitabh Bachchan and Arjun Rampal in Ek Ajnabee and Akshay Kumar and John Abraham in Garam Masala to Abhishek and Riteish in Bluff Master and Akshay and Bobby Deol in Dosti....to Ajay Devgan, Viveik Oberoi & Saif Ali Khan in Omkara

Friendship never had it so good. But is true friendship really possible in showbiz? Or are the supposed lifetime bondings only a matter of convenience? I've watched so many film-land friendships go kaput in front of my eyes....

Anupam Kher and Anil Kapoor virtually ate out of the same plate. In fact I've seen Anupam do exactly that at Anil's residence.

He had just landed in Mumbai early one morning and his wife was out of town. " Arrey, yaar kuch khane ko do," Anupam had grumbled. I had smiled . Chalo, one imperishable dosti in a world of sham and show.

That's how close they were. Then both Anil and Anupam decided to make a film on a Gandhian theme.

Bas, khallas. Anil stopped talking to Anupam. Gandhi brought freedom to the country. He also ended one of filmdom's most enduring friendships They're all fated to go the same way. And with ample reason. Filmy friendships are a practical need-based business. Actors become friendly with filmmakers and their entire family...and then pull out once the show is over.

Ask the amazing J.P.Dutta how many of the war heroes from LOC returned home after the battle was lost at the boxoffice.

I know of only one friendship in filmdom that I trust..And that's Shah Rukh Khan and Karan Johar. A lot of people believe it's another need-based camaraderie. "The day Karan signs another leading man , SRK will dump him," a cynical starlet said to me the other day.

I disagree. Besides his mother Karan knows no other family except Shah Rukh and his wife Gauri. Shah Rukh genuinely treats Karan like a younger brother. I've seen how concerned he is about Karan's foibles and failings, how much he stretches himself to include the filmmaker in his world away from acting where bonafide relationships can be nurtured.

Though Shah Rukh is completely self-willed I think Karan is the one person apart from his wife whom he listens to. And Karan sincerely cares..not because he's King Khan and the hero of his maha-movies. But because in Shah Rukh he sees the big brother he never had.

Unlike other famous director-actor bondings like Shakti Samanta-Rajesh Khanna, Suneel Darshan-Akshay Kumar which ended the day the pair was professionally incompatible KJ-SRK have the capacity to look and seek a common ground beyond work.

Go into Karan's home... you'll see pictures of Shah Rukh and his wife. I feel the day Karan loses that lifeline provided from Mannat, he will cease to be professionally and personally productive.

To his good fortune, Karan is immensely liked by Mrs Khan as well. So many male bondings in day-to-day life go phut because the wife doesn't approve. Mrs Khan has put her foot down about some of her husband's friendships in the past. He has no choice but to comply.

Shah Rukh will never do anything that his wife doesn't want him to. She's not only his reality- check but also his life-line....Karan, I think fits into the Khan cosmos like a charm. His presence in the mega-star's life is both complementary and productive. I can't think of one friendship in Bollywood which has yielded so much creative, fiscal and emotional returns at the boxoffice. From Kuch Kuch Hota Hai to Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham to Kal Ho Na Ho and the item song in Kaal....

And yet if today, God forbid, Karan and Shah Rukh decide not to do a movie together they'd still be friends... Here's saluting filmdom's only bonafide dosti.

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