Bollywood filmmaker Karan Johar has written his first picture book for children — The Big Thoughts of Little Luv ( Juggernaut Books). It stems from his experience of being a single parent to his twins, Yash and Roohi. In his preface to the story, Karan Johar states that his family debunks the notion of a traditional family as he is a single parent to his children, born through surrogacy. His mother also helps look after the twins. It is a sweet little story that attempts to challenge the very gendered notions of bringing up kids and permitting them their freedom to explore and develop as individuals in their own right.
But I have a couple of quibbles with this book. Children are very sharp and perceptive readers. They are also very literal minded. So when Karan Johar declares that he is a “proud mom”, the illustrations of the woman in the story fulfilling the role of a mother are pretty confusing. Secondly, he insists on referring to his set of “mixed twins” which is wrong. A boy and girl pair of twins is always referred to as fraternal twins. Mixed twins are non-identical twins born to multi-racial families and differ in skin colour and other traits considered to be racial features. This muddle is carried forth in the story where in the opening line Luv says “I am confused. Everyone says my twin, Kusha, and I are just the same.” Again, this is wrong. Fraternal twins are never identical. Boy and girl twins are always fraternal. Same sex twins maybe fraternal as well. Being a fraternal twin myself, these silly lapses in storytelling are plain annoying as it is perpetuating the myth of twins being freak shows and having this uncanny ability of being same-same.
Having said that I am pleased that Karan Johar has made his foray into storytelling for children. Ever since I first read his memoir-essay about learning how to tackle his stammer with his drama teacher, I have always wondered why he never wrote more often. I wish he did. Hope he writes regularly in the future, perhaps for a slightly older readership. He will be excellent at it.
11 Jan 2021