Writer-Lyricist Niranjan Iyengar on his chat show Look Who’s Talking, Gen Now and his passion for poetry.
I remember your telling me that you quit film journalism because you didn’t have anything new to ask the stars. Now you are back to interviewing stars in Look Who’s Talking. Full circle?
I quit film journalism in 2001 because I was saturated. When Manish Malhotra offered me a job as his assistant I took it up. Then Karan Johar asked me to write a book on the making of Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (K3G) which kickstarted my journey as a lyricist and screenplay-dialogue writer. But as they say — once a journalist, always a journalist. I didn’t take up a project after writing lyrics for D Day and then this offer for Look Who’s Talking (LWT) came up. I was skeptical about taking it up but I decided to fight my fear.
Why the scepticism?
Because I don’t have the flamboyance associated with a TV personality. I didn’t want to do another ‘Me too’ show like Karan Johar, Simi Garewal or Anupama Chopra. But my producer Gulrayz persisted. We shot a pilot with Shruti Hassan where she was quite candid. The channel said if the show is in this space then they are game to air it. Then fear struck me, what if nobody will come on my show? In this business you can rely maximum on one or two people. But this show has been a revelation because all it took was one phone call to the stars and they were ready to shoot a day later.
Karan Johar was quite honest on your show. How conscious are you of the camera while talking to a friend?
Honestly, in Karan’s episode, it was the wine we were having. This was the sixth episode that I shot so I had loosened up. As a journalist, one is constantly alert to the surroundings but as a chat show host you only have to be alert to your guest. Kajol was my first guest and she was taking care of me. I was quite distracted with the cameras and she told me to just focus on the interview. Every guest has taught me something new.
You’ve interviewed all the major stars of the ‘90s. What’s the difference between them and today’s stars?
The clarity with which they operate is amazing. The Gen Now has a great understanding what part of their life is personal and what is professional. Today’s stars don’t get stumped at continued…