Koffee with Karan Brings out Not-Single Bachelors, Aditya Roy Kapur and Arjun Kapoor

Karan Johar’s tagline for his two guests is “The Bachelor”, but much of the latest episode, streaming on Disney+ Hotstar, is about how both are happily ensconced in relationships.
Koffee with Karan Brings out Not-Single Bachelors, Aditya Roy Kapur and Arjun Kapoor

Pass me what they are smoking, because a weepy delusion seems to have clouded the opening stretch of this episode of Koffee With Karan. Arjun Kapoor and Karan Johar (who always give the sense of being self-aware) and Aditya Roy Kapur (who usually gives the sense of being, well, there) express themselves with such a strange naivete that at one point, the episode descends into a competition of despair — I am trolled for my weight; I am trolled for my relationship; I am trolled for my sexuality. (Kapur is contributing to this, by merely being, well, there.) It is all true and it is all terrible. It is all, also, beige and snoring. Sympathy is a strained resource. You don’t squander it on a show that has everything from its lights to its couch as a spon-con. Have you really come to the couch to complain? 

Johar flips his finger at the trolls of the Ranveer Singh-Deepika Padukone episode, one of the best in his opinion. (We respectfully disagree.) He asks, how do you know what is happening in their marriage? If I may speak on behalf of the audience, we don’t. It is not knowledge, it is gossip — the very thing the show panders to, peddles in, which begs a simple question. How can you weaponize something for over a decade and then, when the viral spiral is not to your taste, dust your hands squeaky clean off it? 

There’s no defending the incel attack on Padukone and the Instagram reels that came out of the episode — of Singh using the same story he used to describe Anushka Sharma walking into the script reading of Band Baaja Baraat (2010) to describe Padukone walking into a script reading of Ram-Leela (2013); of Padukone adopting a different stance on casual flings — did have an acidic sting. However, that is arguably part of the grammar of being online, where irony and distaste is viral currency. More pertinently perhaps, it is also a backlash against the stilted performance of truth, of intimacy on the Koffee couch. As stars, you think you can perform honesty? We have seven seasons of Koffee With Karan to fact check this performance. Arguably, trolling that episode was also about the nihilistic pleasure of saying, “You are wrong, I have proof, I believe nothing.”  

Aditya Roy Kapur and Arjun Kapoor, the “bachelors”, walked onto the set of the latest episode, upturning any assumption about the ease of being on this show. I always wondered if they time their walk, rehearse its speed and stride.

“Oh he’s really taking long,” noted Arjun Kapoor, in booted heels.

“Slowed down your walking?” asked Aditya Roy Kapur, in dull dapper-core.

Arjun balked. “No!” 

Aditya, who is the flesh and bones manifestation of “Nature Lover Is My Tinder Bio” — literally, as he clarifies in the rapid fire — brings the energy with which he walks into movies onto the couch. Like he has better things to do, better places to be. It is a reluctant presence. The most succinct, cutting thing about his speech are the silences where the unintended comes to the surface as a wink. Then, to see Arjun’s sincerity against Aditya’s ambivalence is to be privy to a lopsided portrait. As such Arjun, whom Johar calls the mascot of the show given his repeated appearances and his comfortable assurance on the couch, blurs into the background, a lot of his quips and comments evaded. It is strange, this dissonance, where one, despite not wanting to be there, produces a pull, and the other, despite their ease being there, evaporates. 

This is where Johar snags. Neither want to speak too much of their personal life — merely acknowledging it is the limit they are willing to breach — and neither have much of an exciting professional life to talk about. True, Aditya was in one of the most successful shows of this year, The Night Manager, but a successful show does not make a performance memorable, especially when its success was in utilizing his marble-like presence. Arjun’s last film, The Lady Killer, was, literally, an incomplete film that they released out of desperation, selling only 293 tickets across India, making it one of the biggest box office bombs in Indian cinema. This isn’t even touched on in the episode; neither are the failure of Kuttey (2023) and Ek Villain Returns (2022) and the litany of misfires that trails Arjun.

Then, what? 

A meta quiz and coffee shots to mine into their past, which segues into Aditya’s comical lack of Hindi film knowledge. He doesn’t know who Tuffy is in Hum Aapke Hain Koun…!, nor does he know the name of his (alleged) lover’s dogs, nor her father’s most iconic screen character. Johar and Arjun collapse in hysterical giggles. Aditya’s seems like a life lived at a charmed distance from life itself. A gorgeous vapour of oblivion that he wears proudly, it gives Aditya a strange erotic pull. Almost like you want to reach into the screen and run your fingers down … the list of things he needs to know. Cure that ignorance with some big … trivia.  

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