Karan Johar, the prolific filmmaker, producer, and talk show host, is a name synonymous with Bollywood glitz, glamour, and controversy. Renowned for his larger-than-life films, star-studded parties, and unabashed opinions, Johar’s journey in the Indian film industry has been anything but smooth. Behind the glossy facade lies a tapestry of controversies that have often put him under the spotlight.

Let’s delve into the top 10 controversies that have defined Karan Johar’s career.

Nepotism Allegations:

The debate around nepotism in Bollywood reached its zenith when Kangana Ranaut called Karan Johar the “flag bearer of nepotism” on his own chat show, “Koffee with Karan.” This ignited a fierce controversy, with Johar facing severe backlash for allegedly promoting star kids over talented outsiders.

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil:

The release of “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” in 2016 sparked controversy due to the presence of Pakistani actor Fawad Khan in the film. This was amidst heightened tensions between India and Pakistan. Johar faced intense pressure to replace Khan or cancel the film’s release, leading to debates on artistic freedom and cross-border tensions.

The Alleged Drug Party:

In 2019, a video from a party hosted by Karan Johar went viral, featuring several Bollywood celebrities, allegedly consuming drugs. This stirred a massive controversy, with Johar vehemently denying any drug use and clarifying it was a regular social gathering.

The ‘Intolerance’ Remark:

Johar found himself in hot water when he expressed his views on the prevailing intolerance in India, stating that freedom of expression in the country was the “biggest joke.” His remarks triggered a wave of criticism, with many accusing him of being disconnected from ground realities.

The ‘Kangana Controversy’ on ‘Koffee with Karan’:

Kangana Ranaut’s appearance on “Koffee with Karan” was rife with controversy as she openly criticized Johar and the prevailing culture of nepotism in Bollywood. Their heated exchange became the talk of the town and fueled ongoing debates on privilege and opportunities in the film industry.

The Infamous ‘Hardik Pandya’ Episode:

Karan Johar faced backlash for his handling of the controversial episode featuring cricketer Hardik Pandya on “Koffee with Karan.” Pandya’s sexist and misogynistic comments sparked outrage, leading to Johar issuing a public apology for the inappropriate content aired on his show.

Legal Battle Over ‘Kalank’:

During the production of the film “Kalank,” Karan Johar and his production house Dharma Productions were embroiled in a legal battle with Abhishek Varman, the director of the film. Varman filed a case against Johar for allegedly tweaking the script without his consent, highlighting the challenges faced in collaborative ventures within the industry.

The ‘Gully Boy’ vs. ‘Takht’ Clash:

Karan Johar’s announcement of his magnum opus “Takht” coincided with the release of Zoya Akhtar’s “Gully Boy,” a film with a somewhat similar backdrop. This led to speculation and debate within the industry about potential clashes and overshadowing of one film by the other, showcasing the competitive nature of Bollywood.

The ‘An Unsuitable Boy’ Controversy:

Johar’s autobiography, “An Unsuitable Boy,” stirred controversy for its candid revelations about his personal and professional life. While some hailed it for its honesty, others criticized Johar for allegedly using the book as a platform to settle scores and whitewash his image.

Allegations of Exploitation:

Karan Johar has often been accused of exploiting personal relationships and using his influence to further his career and agendas. These allegations, though largely speculative, have contributed to the polarizing perception of Johar within the industry and among audiences.


Karan Johar’s journey in Bollywood has been peppered with highs and lows, successes and controversies. From nepotism debates to allegations of exploitation, he has been at the center of numerous storms. Yet, amidst the controversies, Johar continues to be a formidable force in Indian cinema, reshaping narratives and redefining the contours of stardom and success. Love him or loathe him, there’s no denying Karan Johar’s indelible mark on Bollywood and its ever-evolving landscape.