‘Koffee With Karan’ is Back, but Threatens to be Low-Key this Season
Instead of delicious dives into the love and sex lives of famous stars, all we will probably get is a peep behind stars’ Instagram posts and low-key gossip
Karan Johar’s Bollywood kitty party is back after a long Covid break and much social media chatter about whether it will resume or not. Since the song “Bole Chooriyan, Bole Kangana” acquired a threatening new meaning, it seemed that Johar had done pakki-katti with the world and was sending out a vibe that said: “I’m so done with trying to entertain you ungrateful lot with juicy titbits about stars. No more. Main ye show kabhi nahin karoonga.”
But, as he only said, kabhi alvida naa kehna…
The first episode of Season 7 of Koffee With Karan dropped on Disney+ Hotstar on Friday not with a bang, but with a mild grouse.
Like all normal people who went into an existential funk during the unending Covid lockdown, Karan Johar arrived with some reassuring excess weight and feeble attempts to hide it wearing what seemed like all the clothes in the red section of his color-coordinated wardrobe.
Johar, who would usually begin new seasons of his show all excited and animated in blingy shoes, began this season with a somber ‘inaugural address.’ His tone was grave, and it seemed like he was going to take on all the accusations hurled at him following Sushant Singh Rajput’s tragic, sad death. Most of the criticism was malicious, baseless, motivated, but some of it was true, especially the charge of Bollywood being an incestuous cesspool where the first commandment is, ‘Thou shalt favor star kids above all others, always.’
Johar began sheepishly but ultimately delivered a chin-forward message of defiance. “I am like this only, and have nothing to be apologetic about,” he seemed to say. And everything that followed in the show was carefully written, directed, and acted to send out this exact message, again and again.
Even his choice of guests was telling – Alia Bhatt and Ranveer Singh, two completely non-controversial actors who are impossible to dislike.
The super-charged, always-on Ranveer, who struggled till he was discovered by Aditya Chopra, and then rose to stardom based on sheer hard work and talent, and cutie-pie Alia, Bhatt saab’s adorable daughter and now a Kapoor bahu whose child-like innocence and talent trump every nepotism charge, could have given this season of KWK a nice, warm start, and set a different tone – one that is not clubby and interbred. But they did the exact opposite.
The show began with a tackily scripted exchange that was staged so as to give the impression that important issues were not being ignored, but used those very issues and accusations as the take-off point to launch a hum-saath-saath-hain love fest.
Karan opened the conversation with his guests by pretending to “inform” Ranveer Singh about the difficult times he had been through, the hate and accusations that were hurled at him. Ranveer apparently had missed it all and was, thus, neutral. After listening to Johar, Ranveer, looking concerned and straight at the camera, said, “But you are such a doll, a gudda. How can anyone hate you? Stop it, trolls. Leave my Karan alone”.
Awwwww. It takes special talent to bring up something contentious about oneself and then turn it into a duet that goes like this:
“I was so hurt… I am not like that at all.”
“I know, babe. Love you. You are amazing.”
“You are amazing. Muah”.
“No babe, you are amazing. Muah.”
“Awwww babe, we both are. AAA.MAAA.ZING.”
And if this was not enough, later in the show Johar showed his middle finger, metaphorically, to his critics when he spoke of having “nepo spasms” – pain in the neck – every time he hears the word ‘nepotism.’
But let me not be churlish. In between all the faux talk about nepotism in Bollywood and loud product plugs, the episode had a lot of what all the previous episodes of Koffee With Karan have had, except the most crucial element.
There were silly jokes, gay jokes, some risqué talk, a rapid-fire and a buzzer round. Karan giggled a lot and there was some sulking over the hamper. What was missing was star power that the previous seasons of KWK had.
Ranveer and Alia are A-listers, no doubt. But they fall more in the ‘actor’ category than stars. Maybe because they, despite being supremely talented, don’t take themselves too seriously. Or perhaps because they seem accessible, their glamour quotient is low.
But they were both entertaining, he more than her.
Ranveer, who was sporting an alarming hairdo, gave some worrying insight into his sexual preferences. He spoke of being an “ass man,” doing it in his vanity van and having sex playlists for different moods, and treated a hysterical Karan to two possible climactic rhythms.
He imitated several actors, and his impressions of Aamir Khan, Hrithik Roshan and Ajay Devgn were particularly hilarious. As was the revelation that he is Bollywood’s go-to “Pammi Aunty” who sorts out his co-star’s house help and love-life issues.
He also, sometimes, stalks Kiara Advani.
Cautious Alia revealed nothing except some teenager-type bits – the pet names she and her hubby have for each other, where he proposed to her, and that she thinks Ranbir is a better dancer than Ranveer.
Karan Johar has never had the spontaneity or wit of Graham Norton. He has always conducted his show like a sweet and powerful insider aunty would hold an annual jagrata where all worthies must mark their attendance.
The show has always had that vibe. And it still does. That’s what makes it banal, and that’s also its appeal.
But over theyears the cringe quotient of Koffee With Karan has risen. More and more, the episodes feel like we are watching the same old buddies over and over who, after some crazy late-night partying, sober up in the morning and sit across a table to play question-and-answers for our benefit.
It’s easy to fault Karan Johar on many things, including the power he wields and what he ends up doing with it. But it’s difficult to hate him because he always brings himself, along with all his vulnerabilities, to the show. He also seems to have a lot of love to give, and be in need of love. And that’s what is carrying KWK Season 7.
If I were to predict the rating of this season of KWK based on the first episode, not in stars but number of cocktail glasses I would have had if I were drinking and watching it, I’d say this is going to be a two-cocktail per episode season. Warm, fun, but nothing memorable or mental.
Instead of delicious dives into the love and sex lives of famous stars, this is going to be a season where all we get is a peep behind stars’ Instagram posts and some very low-key gossip. It’s going to be more a kitty party than a bitchy one.