“This is probably troublesome,” Janhvi Kapoor says, pointing at her decked self, that Rasario red satin dress, with a cutout on her diaphragm that crumples awkwardly when she sits — even though her posture is ramrod straight, almost painfully so, making me wonder if her back ever touched the couch. She is seated, like her sister Khushi Kapoor, on the edge, one leg over the other. Janhvi is referring to how over-exposure to an actor outside of their work — the paparazzi they call, the glam-shots they pose for, photograph, and post — affects how their work is perceived. This is a contentious claim, and she invokes Kevin Spacey in support of this.
There is something tragic buried in the latest, droning episode of Koffee With Karan, where you are seeing how stardom and artistry can be seen as two opposing pulls; one being necessarily framed as the antithesis to the other. It feels like air-talk, this theorising of stardom, of artistry, because it is clear, no one has any intention of doing anything about it. Their material lives, and the demands that it makes and are made on it, are unchanged by such realisations. It is the kind of thought that is unamenable to action. When we, unglamorous plebs, posture ourselves as though expressing exhaustion to such statements, “Who cares?”, it is this hypocrisy that we are actually chafing at.
The episode brings together the Kapoor sisters, whose easy love for each other, that sibling sigh of calm and chaos, buoys the strange boredom that every patch of dialogue sinks into. Johar’s love for their mother, Sri Devi, and the loss that her death meant — to him as a fan, to them as daughters — scratches at familiar notes. But to speak of Sri Devi is to also imagine Sri Devi, and that perfumed presence is enough, I suppose. To be in the presence of a spectral greatness. And to then, quickly, descend.
When speaking of their personal chemistry, Janhvi and Khushi mention that they do not express themselves, emotionally, to each other.
“I don’t know why,” Janhvi muses.
“Why?” Johar asks.
“I don’t know,” Janhvi moans.
Even Johar’s curiosity — the thing that keeps conversation on the show frothing, even if sometimes it feels beaten down to an inch, dalgona-ed into creamy air, a saccharine nothingness — fails him.
For one he isn’t interested in being discerning about the careers of the Kapoor sisters. The past year was a write-off for Janhvi Kapoor with Bawaal, a film so deadened by the glamour of its lead pair, unable to tone it down for the middle-class characters they were playing, and then, the silly holocaust references that made even human rights organisations and embassies take note of Hindi cinema — in scorn, of course, what’s new there.
Khushi Kapoor’s debut, too, was rocky, with her performance in The Archies (2023) as the sweet Betty becoming fodder for the meme-complex, that monotone dialogue delivery — which, to be honest, worked for the world of the film, its unthreatening lilt — which never soared with the drama. It was also the weakest Zoya Akhtar film.
But Johar refuses to acknowledge these creases, or even speak of how the Kapoors reacted to such criticisms. It is so rosy and gilded, his framing of their career, it is almost as if Johar is trying to cushion them, protect them, and there came a point where I thought, “if you really wanted to protect them, why bring them on the couch?” Of what use is this grating exchange — where Janhvi owning up to dating Shikhar Pahariya is, perhaps, the only rip of gossip. But for anyone whose Instagram homepage is threaded with Voompla updates, this is stale business. The coffee has long fermented, and the acidic stench it leaves is long overdue an overhaul.