When Karan Johar shared a post in May implying that there will be no further seasons of Koffee with Karan, its fans seemed to give a collective gasp. No Coffee with Karan? Are the obvious signs about oh din being over true? One could almost hear the loud sound effects from Ekta Kapoor’s soap operas playing in our heads as many of us said to ourselves, kya kya kya? Thankfully Karan soon revealed that the show was not returning to television, but to an OTT platform, and all seemed well with the world again. There would be gossip, there would be sniggering, there would be hampers and bickering.
As intellectual and woke as we are all genuinely, or pretend to be, there are occasions, events, or people that force us to abandon our principles. Koffee with Karan is one such instance, where many of us let go of our politically correct stance and watch celebrities tell Karan secrets he already knows. Watching Koffee with Karan is the entertainment equivalent of cracking politically incorrect jokes or dancing to item numbers. You are not proud of the fact that you like it, but you don’t mind doing it occasionally.
After six successful and unfailingly controversial seasons on television, Koffee with Karan is returning for a seventh season on Disney+ Hotstar. The latest promo gives us a sneak peek of the guests and wild conversations to come. Season 7’s guest list includes some old and some new faces. Ananya Pandey (whose father is yet to appear on Koffee with Karan, thereby allowing her to retain her struggler status), Vijay Deverkonda, Kiara Advani, Samantha Ruth Prabhu, Shahid Kapoor, Tiger Shroff, Varun Dhawan, Kriti Sanon, Anil Kapoor, Ranveer Singh and of course Karan’s favourite, Alia Bhatt are among those lined up to brew cups of controversies with KJo.
While in the promos, Karan was seen desperately calling people asking them to be on the show, the criteria for selection have remained quite the same over the past six seasons. To find themselves on Karan’s couch (the one on the show that is), celebrities have to fall into that special space on the Johar-Venn diagram, which intersects the circles of good-looking, rich, and successful. The exceptions, of course, are his childhood friends who serve as filler guests between the truly happening ones.
But as someone who has watched almost all the episodes of the show, I couldn’t help but wonder what is it about Koffee with Karan that makes it so popular? Why do so many people call the show their guilty pleasure, and why do we voluntarily watch the same, or similar faces season after season?
Perhaps when it first began, with Karan’s favorites Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol gracing the first-ever episode, social media wasn’t the omniscient beast that it is today. We didn’t know what a celebrity had eaten for breakfast, how intense their workout was or whether they took a flight to or from Mumbai. There was still some mystery and intrigue around movie stars and Koffee with Karan was an opportunity to casually engage with them. Karan didn’t bother concealing the fact that he was ‘good friends’ with or the boss of almost everyone he invited. Watching the show made us feel like we felt like we had quietly slipped into a living room in JVPD or Bandra, to hear and watch famous people have a largely pointless conversation.
By virtue of his proximity to these stars, Karan could charm, cajole and even trick them into being at least a halfway real version of themselves. It was refreshing to watch these huge stars reveal their hubris and sometimes hurt, be snide, be catty, be genuinely funny, surprisingly honest and for a few brief minutes, completely relatable.
Deepika’s post-breakup taunts against Ranbir, Kareena and Priyanka’s passionately wicked comments about accents and boyfriends, the forced camaraderie between Ranbir and Ranveer, the surprising wisdom of Katrina Kaif when she spoke about her past breakups, Hardik Pandya’s infamous boasts, and Kangana Ranaut’s rant about nepotism that gave disgruntled film folk their war cry. These are some of the many controversial and memorable moments that have played out over the years on Koffee with Karan.
Over six seasons, Koffee with Karan has been resolutely superfluous, but also perhaps cathartic for us as viewers. Watching these wealthy, famous and venerated celebrities display the same human follies as the rest of us was oddly relieving. Somewhere we felt reassured that individuals, whose lives we envied, were probably just as dysfunctional as us common folk. They were bitter about ex-flames, they were insecure and yet confident, but more than anything else, they were just regular people who are talented, hardworking and most definitely lucky. Koffee with Karan also allowed its host to come into his own and change how the world perceived him. Karan is no longer the awkward director who was better known as Kajol and Shah Rukh’s bestie. Today he is a film producer, director, television show host and now gearing up to make his OTT debut as well.
I personally like the fact the show has never pretended to be a serious chat show or a show that was meant to change the world. Though many people have criticized it for being fake or disliked the unintellectual conversations, I doubt Karan was ever trying to be like Oprah or even Ellen. He realized the power of smaller screens and the universal interest in gossip and brought them together to create a profitable show.
So come 7th July, I am going to pour myself a beverage of my choice and be unapologetically entertained as I watch Ranveer Singh talk about a playlist he has for his bedroom endeavors or some such equally outrageous conversation. After two years of bad news, devastating loss and global pandemonium, perhaps we all need a cup of Koffee with Karan.