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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Inside the Halls of Filmistan High: Koffee with Karan

Hamper shamper! Karan Johar may be one of the most powerful people in the industry, able to wriggle longer, juicier answers out of directors and actors than even most practiced and reputable journalists, but we're not letting him or his ridiculous show off the hook.

Join Amrita, Beth, and special guest Maria of the blog Filmiholic, herself an experienced film journalist, in a discussion of this season of Koffee with Karan. We wonder what the show is actually about, why he asks the questions he does, and whether he's really a good tv host or just a bully in velvet. In trying to figure it all out, we cover:
  • the difference between being a host and a conversationalist
  • highlights from this season's episodes (featuring Aishwarya Rai-Abhishek Bachchan, Ranbir Kapoor-Imran Khan, Deepika Padukone-Sonam Kapoor, Farah Khan-Raju Hirani-Imtiaz Ali, Kareena Kapoor-Saif Ali Khan)
  • the significance (or not) of power players' sexuality and what coming out could do
  • navigating fame, fortune, and power as a young woman
  • an apparent fear among these big players of intellectual content and seeming smart
  • what guests could possibly have in their purses
  • and whether the set design looks a bit too much like a strip club.
Let us know: did we out-cat the cattiest show on Indian television? If not, should we release our outtakes?

(Side note: all of us now realize that the contents of the hamper have been exposed in previous episodes.)

Amrita and Beth also enjoyed Baradwaj Rangan's piece "Kogitating over Koffee".

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  1. This totally made my morning - Katty with Koffee!!! :D

    Maria and Amrita have certainly homed in on the reason for the show's popularity - gossip and cattiness at home (Bollywood) revealed for everybody to see! What I love about the show (yes I admit it - I LOVE it!) is that all the dumb actors (and let's face it, there do not seem to be many of the intelligent variety) do not pretend to be intelligent on this show. Karan does not let anybody get away with saying things like "it's a very different film" (umm... different as in as different from intelligent film-making as it is possible to get?) or "I have a very strong role" (a strongly annoying role?) or other such fake-profound observations.

    As to Karan's "come-out", I'm sure everybody in the industry already knows (remember Abhishek Bachchan and Preity Zinta talking on KwK about this guy who approached Karan for a role and promised to "do anything, ANYTHING"?). As far as the general public is concerned, well KJo is a businessman not an activist - he probably does not want the backlash that his coming out may have on his films and shows.

    Now I need to go watch all the other episodes on this season's KwK - I've only seen the Deepika-Sonam one because of all the controversy it generated.

  2. bollyviewer - Somehow I am completely surprised that you pay any attention to this show whatsoever! :D I have this mental picture of you wishing you could send the show back in time to get Madhubala and Dilip Kumar on the same couch!

    Anyway. I haven't seen enough episodes to have a good sense of what Karan lets people get away with but I am DELIGHTED to know he does not always take the company line about the content of their work ("a very different film" and "a strong role"). THAT is actually useful and interesting information, in my eyes, since I don't really care about who's dating/angry at/friends with whom.

    We should have stated clearly in the episode that our baseline is that Karan Johar's sexuality is his business alone and that it is to the detriment of society at large, as well as to him personally, if he is gay and does not feel he can talk about it or identify himself or live his life in ways that feel honest to him. And as you say, just because to some of us he is a public figure with a powerful voice does not negate or cancel out his own concerns, both personal and professional.

    And I'm also realizing that we didn't talk much about Deepika's discussion of Ranbir. Personally I didn't find it all that interesting, again probably because I don't tend to follow gossip closely and am out of the loop on what she said/he said has been going on. I do think that it's very understandable if she's hurt by him cheating - isn't that kind of the basic human reaction most of the time? Pay attention to Rishi Kapoor's little segment on the Imran-Ranbir ep - he is very "oh ha ha, boys will be boys, my boy will date all the girls, it's good, it's fine" in a completely irritating and entitled way.

  3. Beth, I love my gossip! :D It needs to be in small doses though - one episode of KwK every 2-3 months is all the contemporary masala I need to keep going. And I certainly do not wish KwK to go back in time to have Dilip-Madhubala (or even Shashi) on the show. Based on the few old Filmfares I've read recently, I think I can safely conclude that the actors of yore were just as shallow and silly as the actors of today. They just did not have the same facilities for displaying their IQ onscreen as actors today do - thank goodness!

  4. Another great discussion--it's interesting to me that KWK seems to be the only equivalent for the whole talk show circuit in the HW film industry. It does seem to include elements of the various US talkshows: goofy stunts that you might see on Letterman or Conan, the boring repeated stories that you see the morning shows, and the heartfelt revelations that are the domain of Oprah. (On a side note, if Karan decided to do a more Oprah-like show that would be awesome! I totally want to know that Karan's favorite things are.)

    The thing that most bugs me is the repetition of the rankings/questions from show to show, particularly when they are not really relevant to the guests and don't get good answers. I particularly hate the Khan for All Seasons question--there doesn't seem to be a point.

    BTW, I'm really glad that this a podcast not a book. I love hearing this discssion in short snippets when I'm driving or walking the dog.

  5. I'm with bollyviewer in not wanting a blast-to-the-past version of KWK. Yes, I watch and enjoy KWK too but that's because I'm so out of the loop with contemporary Bollywood I have no emotional or even professional interest/investment in the current crop of actors. Finding out that Ranbir cheated on Deepika is of no consequence to me, but finding out that Shammi cheated on Geeta Bali might disturb me a little bit.:-)

  6. You guys did out-cat the cattiest show on television and I SO RESPECT AND ADMIRE you for it.

    You guys know I met Karan earlier this year, had dinner with him and three other very interesting and successful people. He didn't ask any of those interesting and successful people (or me) about their opinions or lives or anything, which surprised me. He was very witty and entertaining, but it was all about him. Which was, of course, fine with me---but I'd expected someone a bit more curious and inquisitive.

  7. Shalini - Good point - not really caring about some of these people makes the show more palatable :) And I think Memsaab here could fill us in on that last point, if your ears could handle it.

    memsaab - WIN!

    I remember you about Dinner with Karan and that just adds to the "not actually choosing to be a very good host in some senses of the word" argument. In my not-having-met-Karan opinion :)

  8. What Shalini doesn't know won't hurt her :D And yes, I think you are very right (my comment was meant in support of your view, although I didn't make that very clear did I?)...