Koffee with Karan returned with great fanfare for its seventh season, this time on the OTT platform, Disney+Hotstar. Braving the 7th season itch, Karan returned with new episodes of his chat show featuring a couple of debutants and many old guests who made anywhere from their second to their seventh appearance on Karan’s couch. Or as he calls it now, the couch of manifestation.
Twelve episodes of the show are now streaming on the platform, and while there have been no epic controversies this year (throwback to Hardik Pandya’s boast about his sexual conquests or Kangana’s war cry on nepotism), this is a good opportunity to evaluate whether Karan and the team have brewed a fresh pot of coffee or served us vending machine ware.
Season seven started with Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt, the leading pair of Karan’s upcoming directorial, Rocky aur Rani ki Prem Kahani. While the pair had an interesting chat with Karan, and Ranveer bowled us over with his mimicry skills, what was a bit of buzz kill was Karan’s opening monologue.
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While one thought that this monologue would be reserved for just the first episode to welcome us to a new season, the rather pointless and frankly, badly written speeches have continued in every episode that followed. Conversation may be your strength Karan, but dialogue delivery is definitely not. Perhaps nix the foam and dive straight into the cuppa if you get to the 8th season?
Also, while we do understand that advertising pays for content, can we not have such force-fitted brand integrations, please? To randomly ask someone why their fashion is a cut above the rest or seek their opinions on diamonds mid-conversation, seems really forced and unnatural.
Koffee with Karan has always been a light-hearted and unabashedly frivolous show, something loyal viewers actually love about it. However, this year there were several moments when we actually went from cringe to wince. So, while we were enlightened about such a thing as a playlist for bedroom endeavours, or in some cases, vanity van endeavours, did Karan really need to ask multiple guests the same question? Perhaps a shift from television to an OTT platform made Karan and the creative team feel that they could focus for no particular reason on every guest’s sex life?
In fact, in Varun Dhawan and Anil Kapoor’s episode, Varun turned into Mahendra Watsa and offered sexual advice to people who ‘called in’. Also, as good-looking as Vijay Deverkonda is, asking a man whose career you can influence if he is open to threesomes, is not just unnecessary, it’s inappropriate. As fun as it was to see some equal opportunity objectification, the incessant inside jokes about who had sampled the cheese got quite tiresome after a while.
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Nepotism for some reason got lots of on-air time with Karan choosing to discuss it with almost all his guests. Perhaps it was a relevant topic given all his guests were either stars, star kids or parents of star kids, a.k.a industry insiders. Apart from Samantha Ruth Prabhu, Vijay Deverakonda and poor Siddhant Chaturvedi who was subtly shamed for calling out Ananya Pandey about her privilege; Karan’s couch only had people from his inner circle, actors he has launched, actors he plans to work with, or those who are popular on social media.
Looks like he has decided to really own the ‘flagbearer of nepotism’ title close to his heart this time. This is fine because Karan has the right to call whomever he wants. But then why the lame jokes and defensive conversations about nepotism? Why the clarifications about not casting Varun Dhawan because he was David Dhawan’s son? Looks like nepotism is becoming the new Deepika-Ranbir breakup conversation. People have moved on, but Karan clearly isn’t letting it go.
Instead of using the strong reactions that flooded social media to evaluate if the work culture in Bollywood was indeed toxic, Karan and his coterie have gone on the defensive. Nepotism in Bollywood sadly doesn’t just mean giving someone you know a chance. It is giving someone who already has access to the powers that be a chance. The disparity is glaring and quite unfair, especially when we know of actors like Pankaj Tripathi, Neena Gupta, Shefali Shah, or Vijay Verma who have waited for years to get good roles.
But it was not all gloomy on Karan’s couch. There have been moments of genuine laughter, entertainment and some heartfelt conversations. It was wonderful to see Arjun Kapoor talk so sensitively about his relationship with Malaika Arora and how he wanted to safeguard her son given his own troubled past. The episode with him and Sonam was perhaps been the most balanced one this season, with body image issues and Sonam hilariously calling Brahmastra Shiva No 1.
While the rapid-fire rounds have been tepid, the new MyGlamm Zone segment is loads of fun with lots of impromptu dancing and competitive yelling. One really wishes that the episodes as a whole had the same spontaneity and vivaciousness. It was also wonderful to see Karan frequently doubling up with laughter and admitting he needs reading glasses. Being able to laugh at himself and be critical of his past work and Hindi cinema in general, is one of Karan’s strengths.
Perhaps then Karan needs to be a little more careful about who he invites. Kareena, for example, looked utterly bored and Tiger Shroff should stick to flaunting his abs on screen. Maybe swap rich and popular with talented and articulate and we can have far more crackling episodes of content.
As we end this season, here’s hoping that the next time we see Karan sitting on his couch, welcoming who’s who of the industry to spill the beans, the episodes will feel like a double espresso and not a flat white. Pun intended.