In its third season, Koffee With Karan stays hot and frivolous, says Poorva Rajaram
YES, IT EVANGELISES the cult of celebrity. Yes, it is another cynical ploy to seduce a desensitised television viewer. Yes, the only real product it sells is the familial bickering of a claustrophobic film industry. Yes, it’s one of the many things on television that lobotomises a new generation of free thinkers. Yet, Koffee With Karan is terribly entertaining. And it just got better after a three-year break.
Already, Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan have proved they have little noteworthy to say, Imran Khan and Ranbir Kapoor have kissed and Deepika Padukone has mischievously offered to gift Ranbir condoms.
The show is unabashedly interested only in the petty and pretty things. Gossip, digestible questions, seeming candour and surprise pairings helped it through its first two seasons. Unlike its scripted predecessor, Rendezvous With Simi Garewal, which will perhaps linger in the collective memory as a neverending Oscar speech, Koffee With Karan has mercy on its viewers. Barely free of triteness, it contains fewer sloppy platitudes about life. It has also found an antidote to the problem of the reticent, inarticulate yet publicity- seeking celebrity. The rapidfire round, feedback from the loved ones, the lie-o-meter and the Koffee hamper provide timely diversions for unwilling guests.
Its crowning moment so far has been an episode with Lara Dutta and Katrina Kaif. During the rapid-fire round, host Karan Johar asks Lara, “Who would you give the following titles to? Miss Congeniality.” She replies, “Gracy Singh.” After a stony 15 seconds, Lara chimes in, “No one has said her name in a really long time.” And hysterical laughter ensues, while Katrina wonders why everyone has to be mean. Its best feature continues to be the oneliners that emerge after Johar’s carefully orchestrated prodding. This season, Rai proclaimed, “My name is not Khan” and Sonam Kapoor said of Shobhaa De, “Who the hell is she? She writes bad books.” One suspects the host himself is somewhere between the poison-pen ringmaster and everyone’s best friend. Some are careful to preface snarky comments, saying “s/he is my senior”.
Koffee With Karan does not pretend. It seems perfectly happy stringing together shallow questions and answers while leaving the pursuit of psychological depth to more motivated interviewers. You have to forgive a show that trumpets its creative stagnation. Johar’s opening words this season were, “So what has changed in the past four years? Has cinema drastically evolved? Have celebrities found stylists or therapists? Has Ram Gopal Varma found a silencer? Have I had a good look at some of my films? No, not much has changed.” This season, while getting his guests to autograph mugs, Johar said he does this “for posterity”. Okay, the show isn’t that good. But it’s good for now.