Koffee with Karan is “like a butt crack. You know you shouldn’t see it but you keep looking at it,” said comedian Danish Sait during the finale of the quintessential guilty pleasure of millennials and boomers. With influencers such as Tanmay Bhat, Kusha Kapila, and Niharika NM along with Sait seated on the most famous (or infamous) couch of pop culture, host Karan Johar managed to deliver everything in the last episode — that was largely missing from the whole season — entertainment, entertainment, entertainment.
The season finale, with non-Bollywood stars, also sends a clear signal that entertainment and power have now shifted from the film industry to influencers. You can’t dismiss them as ‘TikTokers’ and ‘reel comics’ anymore. They have as much a say in India’s content industry as Alia Bhatt, Gauri Khan and Kareena Kapoor.
The “frivolous” Bollywood (majorly) celebrity talk show has been running for 18 years, with Season 7 being its latest. Any binge viewer of the show should be able to tell you the underwhelming quotient of the recently concluded season. With outdated guest appearances (looking at Kiara Advani-Shahid Kapoor episode; it has been three years since Kabir Singh’s release) and overtly choreographed duos, the guest list for this year was rather a stale and tasteless cup of coffee. As were their rapid-fire answers in a post-SSR and Bollywood boycott world.
But it looks like better sense prevailed (finally). To combat the fatigue, lack of candour, and uncomfortable boredom throughout the season, Johar brought out prominent names from the Indian “influverse” to conclude the show. “I am very receptive to criticism…,” said Johar, while prodding the guests to unleash their remarks and opinions about Koffee with Karan.
Namedropping Alia Bhatt, over-usage of nepotism, obsession with infidelity and sex lives, ‘bias’ towards Janhvi Kapoor over Sara Ali Khan, or absence of critically acclaimed actors on the couch — a variety of questions and feedback was hurled Johar’s way. To his credit, he took it on his chin and addressed (almost) everything sportingly. Isn’t that what we wanted all along?
Enough with Alia Bhatt
The finale episode was different in more ways than one. As opposed to Johar’s OTT (over the top) wardrobe throughout the season, with flared printed pants and a solid black coloured blazer, Johar opted for a rather ‘sophisticated’ look. For a change, he also owned his “budhapa” glasses throughout the episode.
The set was also different — to my surprise, I did not expect the creators to go from bad to worse, but they managed to pull it off with colours brighter than the sun. But you quickly get over it, owing to the conversations being brewed on the couch.
For the first time, there were guests who were not ashamed of asking or being asked questions. Influencers brought more honesty through humour than actors did with their hush-hush references to their private lives and parties.
While Johar confessed to being called out by Bhatt herself for mentioning her one too many times, Sait’s response to the filmmaker takes the cake. “In that [Brahmastra] Alia Bhatt keeps screaming Shiva, Shiva….The equivalent of that on television is you saying Alia, Alia…,” he said. At another moment, Kapila pointed out how Johar had asked many guests to name the ‘best actress’ in the country, all along advocating for the answer he wanted them to say. In the second episode, Samantha Ruth Prabhu was quizzed about her thoughts on how she felt after beating Bhatt to top an Ormax survey of the ‘best actress in India’. As Johar said during the show, this could well be turned into a drinking game based on the number of times he mentioned her name in the show. But well, to his credit, he knows how to normalise any ‘allegation’ thrown his way. If somebody could count the number of times, he also used (rather, overused) the term ‘nepotism’ in the show, the party could go on till the sun rises.
Taapsee Pannu and brewing mental health
Another example of Johar’s innate ability to tackle any googly was when Kapila questioned him on the absence of “critically acclaimed” actors on the couch, like Taapsee Pannu. He cited “interesting combinations” as an excuse and said once he is able to crack that, he will invite her on the show. But it is not just Pannu who we missed on the couch. No Shah Rukh Khan — the king of wit and candour — or Deepika Padukone, Anushka Sharma, Saif Ali Khan or rather more suited guest combinations has proved to be a massive drawback for Season 7. What did we get instead? Trivia about Tiger Shroff and Varun Dhawan’s sex life, and much-rehearsed and restrained rounds of rapid fire.
In one touching moment in the finale, Johar opened up about his mental health, and how he sought professional help five years back. While I applaud him for owning up to this moment, I wonder why he did not bring it up in any of the previous episodes with his ‘friends’.
“It is a big part of who I am,” said Johar while announcing that he would be back with another season of Koffee with Karan next year. I hope that the finale works as a guide to what to do for the next season.
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