When Karan Johar shared a post in May suggesting that there will be no more seasons of Koffee with Karan, fans seemed collectively gasping. no Coffee with Karan† Are the obvious signs over? hurt about being true? You could almost hear the loud sound effects of Ekta Kapoor’s soap operas playing in our heads, as many of us said to ourselves: what kya kya† Fortunately, 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 gossiping, there would be sniggering, there would be hindering and bickering.
As intellectual and awake as we are all real, or pretending, there are occasions, events, or people that force us to give up our principles. Koffee with Karan is one such case, with many of us letting go of our politically correct attitudes and seeing celebrities tell Karan secrets he already knows. Watching Koffee with Karan is the entertainment equivalent of making politically incorrect jokes or dancing to item numbers. You’re not proud of the fact that you like it, but you don’t mind doing it every now and then.
After six successful and infallible controversial seasons on television, Koffee with Karan returns for a seventh season on Disney+ Hotstar. The latest promo gives us a taste of the guests and wild conversations to come. Season 7’s guest list features some old and new faces. Ananya Pandey (whose father has yet to appear on Koffee with Karan, allowing her to maintain her combatant 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 favorite, Alia Bhatt, are among those lining up to brew cups of controversy with KJo.
While Karan desperately called people in the promos asking to get on the show, the selection criteria have remained pretty much the same for the past six seasons. To find themselves on Karan’s couch (which one on the show is), celebrities have to fall into that special space on the Johar-Venn diagram, which cuts the circles of handsome, rich, and successful. The exceptions, of course, are his childhood friends who serve as filler guests between the real happenings.
But as someone who has watched almost every episode of the show, I was wondering, 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 volunteer to watch the same or similar faces season after season?
Perhaps when it first started, with Karan’s favorites Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol gracing the very first episode, social media wasn’t the omniscient beast it is today. We didn’t know what a celebrity had eaten for breakfast, how intense their training was, or whether they were taking a flight to or from Mumbai. There was still some mystery and intrigue surrounding movie stars and Koffee with Karan was an opportunity to casually interact with them. Karan didn’t bother to hide the fact that he was “good friends” with or boss of almost everyone he invited. Watching the show made us feel as if we had quietly slipped into a living room in JVPD or Bandra, to hear and see famous people having a largely meaningless conversation.
His proximity to these stars allowed Karan to charm, flatter, and even trick them into being at least a half-real version of themselves. It was refreshing to see these huge stars show their hubris and sometimes hurt, be mean, be catty, genuinely funny, surprisingly honest and be completely recognizable for a few short minutes.
Deepika’s taunts after Ranbir’s breakup, Kareena and Priyanka’s passionately vicious comments about accents and boyfriends, the forced camaraderie between Ranbir and Ranveer, Katrina Kaif’s surprising wisdom when she talked about her previous breakups, Hardik Pandya’s infamous boast and Kangana Ranaut’s tirade nepotism that got disgruntled movie people their rallying cry. These are some of the many controversial and memorable moments that have played out over the years on Koffee with Karan.
For more than six seasons, Koffee with Karan was resolutely unnecessary, but perhaps also cathartic for us as viewers. Watching these rich, famous and revered celebrities engage in the same human follies as the rest of us was strangely relieved. Somehow we felt reassured that individuals whose lives we envied were probably just as dysfunctional as us ordinary people. They were bitter about ex-flames, they were insecure yet confident, but above all they were ordinary people who are talented, hardworking and decidedly lucky. Koffee with Karan also allowed his host to come into his own and change how the world saw him. Karan is no longer the clumsy director better known as the bestie of Kajol and Shah Rukh. Today he is a film producer, director, television show host and is now getting ready to make his OTT debut as well.
Personally, I like that the show never pretended to be a serious chat show or one that was meant to change the world. While many people criticized it for being fake or hating the non-intellectual conversations, I doubt Karan ever tried to be like Oprah or even Ellen. Realizing the power of smaller screens and the universal interest in gossip, he brought them together to create a profitable show.
So come July 7th, I’m going to pour myself a drink of choice and brazenly enjoy myself watching Ranveer Singh talk about a playlist he has for his bedroom endeavors or some equally outrageous conversation. After two years of bad news, devastating loss and global pandemonium, maybe we all need a cup of coffee with Karan.