Koffee with Karan Review: Tiger Shroff’s Mile-High Club Candour, Kriti Sanon’s Coy Sundari Schtick

This week, Karan Johar chats with Kriti Sanon and Tiger Shroff
Koffee with Karan Review: Tiger Shroff’s Mile-High Club Candour, Kriti Sanon’s Coy Sundari Schtick

Disabuse yourself of the notion that most actors want to become actors because they love cinema. It is because they love the vanity of it. Nothing wrong with that, of course, for many of them came of age in the Nineties when cinema and glamour were interchangeable, one leaking into and from the other with models ramp-walking onto film sets. Besides, it isn't like the generation preceding them harboured any grand, cinephilic love.

This generation did come into their own with magazine covers, Instagram shoots, HMU credits, and brand tags. So why should Tiger Shroff and Kriti Sanon — the latest guests on Koffee With Karan — know that Waheeda Rehman played both mother and lover to Amitabh Bachchan? The real question is why Karan Johar is shocked that they do not know this, shocked that Shroff thought that Rekha played mother to Bachchan on screen at some point. Johar should know better. 

Maybe there is nothing to learn from history except for those who want to give their nostalgia and knowledge some grand metaphysical meaning.

Maybe every generation feels like this, but this one especially feels suspended, contextless, unaware of and uninterested in the tradition of cinema of which they are partaking. Maybe there is nothing to learn from history except for those who want to give their nostalgia and knowledge some grand metaphysical meaning.

In the last KWK episode with Kiara Advani and Shahid Kapoor, Johar spilled that Sanon refused to play the role he eventually offered to Advani — of a woman who orgasms publicly, in front of her family, completely clothed, with a vibrator plugged in, quaking like a faultline. Sanon's mother rejected the part on her behalf. Even the idea, if not the imagery, was too racy. Is this why Sanon's 'item song' in Kalank, 'Aira Gaira' was so without heat, without sex, that it seemed like three chaste friends being footloose? What do we do when we are made aware of an artist's self-imposed limitations? It's not like they had any edge to lose, but even then, how to respond when actors wilfully curate themselves as coy? Even the way she winks in 'Param Sundari' has that sweetness, that naivete that reduces anything remotely erotic to mashed Cerelac. Can actors cultivate their oomph over time or is it just a blazing shamelessness, an inextinguishable fire that is innate to one's personality as is one's charm? 

Sanon has one of the most enviable, even if not eclectic, lineups — Amar Kaushik's Bhediya opposite Varun Dhawan; Vikas Bahl's Ganapath opposite Tiger Shroff; Om Raut's Adipurush opposite Prabhas; and Rohit Dhawan's Shehzada opposite Kartik Aaryan — and perhaps time will best answer the question of nurture versus nature, and whether a dull sweetness can alchemise into something more imposing and charismatic. Whether in the future, when Sanon speaks, not just us, but Johar, too, will want to listen instead of cutting her off, probing her towards a point Johar already has in mind. That her fame won't be formed in the shadow of the stars she acts opposite. 

For long I have wondered if actors get paid to come on KWK. On one hand, it makes sense — if reality show contestants get paid, why shouldn't talk show participants? On the other, when you seem so desperate to be part of something, the logic of capitalism, of labour extraction, says you perform it for free. Sanon pulls the veil off when asked why she refuses to be candid on the show: "Because this show is for free for me right now and my parents are watching it." That perhaps money would have made tongues wag and heads roll? Or that it is better to be considered boring than not to be considered at all — that seems to be the only logical reason actors would want to come on a catty show and paw like rabbits instead.

For a rush of candour there is Tiger Shroff, dazed as though high, sunglasses in an indoor set with his shirt untucked, buttons undone, a tangle of chains on his waxed chest, sneakers padding his height, proud member of the mile-high club, who has sent nudes into the ether of webchats, who "prowls", who "lurks", who calls himself "DOMinating" (please read the word as emphasized), bites his lower lip constantly, and in a gagged moment, was called by Sannon, a "flipper" — I assume this means either promiscuous or bisexual, but I could be wrong, and Sanon isn't telling. 

I love that Johar is so invested in the mechanics of casual sex — the "disappearing" mode on Whatsapp, the "vanish" mode of Instagram, the size of the bathrooms on airplanes — an affront to those who think you age into a hormonal harmony. The heart still beats, the hormones still rush for Johar, who is 50 and counting; and if all you can do is pout and complain, then do just that. Even if it means that anything he touches with his adulation — Alia Bhatt, Ranbir Kapoor — immediately falls from internet grace.

To be protected by Johar is also to be fed to the ghoulish trolls. When he keeps bringing up Bhatt's superlative acting in every episode, I, too, sometimes wonder, did we exaggerate her craft in our heads in the first place? Is this a case of beauty diluted by exposure? 

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