KJo: Cried when Alia told me about her pregnancy

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Filmmaker Karan Johar is back with the seventh season of his popular celebrity chat show ‘Koffee With Karan’. KJo teased the season with a spicy promo recently that gave a glimpse into all the tea that will be spilled by the various guests on his couch. From Ranveer Singh-Alia Bhatt to Akshay Kumar-Samantha Ruth Prabhu, from Vijay Deverakonda-Ananya Panday to Janhvi Kapoor- Sara Ali Khan, the show that will stream on OTT platform this year, looks promising to say the least. ETimes sat down for an exclusive coffee session with Karan, where he spoke about being one of the most recognised talk show hosts in the world, how he gets his guests to open up, Koffee moments that left him speechless, Alia Bhatt and a lot more. Watch the exclusive video right here!

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It’s been 18 years of Koffee With Karan. How does it feel to be one of the most recognised talk show hosts in the world? Had you imagined back in 2004, this is the journey, this is the path it would take?

Honestly, if you asked me this question in 2004, that would I be sitting here talking to you 18 years later, I would have said, ‘Are you mad? Are you crazy? I am doing one season and I am out of here. Like, just for fun, banter, calling friends, chatting, literally having a blast doing that. I didn’t realise that this show would be what it is. It’s now a kind of a household name, people know. If they are not watching it, they have heard of it at least. I didn’t realise it would follow me everywhere in the world. Wherever I go, people literally call me Koffee before they call me Karan. So it’s almost like I am a beverage and not a person. And I get that joke every time I am at a Starbucks out of the country on in the country, like, ‘Oh, can we have Koffee with Karan?’ because I am at Starbucks and I laugh every time and make them feel like they’ve cracked a really original joke. But that’s the truth. The show has just kind of lived two decades and I am really grateful for that.

Have you ever sighed at the Koffee puns?
No, I feel like I don’t want to grab their feeling of originality. Even when people have meetings with me and I ask what will you have. They’re like, ‘Koffee because it’s Koffee with Karan’ and I laugh every time. And it’s happened at least a thousand times and I laughed each time with equal amount of vigour.

Were you always a good conversationalist? that must be the key to having such a successful talk show, right?
I think being a talk show doesn’t mean that you have to be a good conversationalist. It means you have to be a good listener. I have always been a good listener and I think that makes you into a good talk show. Because a talk show host is not supposed to be talking himself or herself. That’s the mistake some talk show hosts make. They talk more than the guest. I am a good listener and that is what I think has worked in my favour as a talk show host. It’s not that I am a talker, I am a listener.

Over the years we have seen a lot of stars who’ve opened up to you. It is about putting people at ease. Where does that come from? Are those your personal relationships or is there a method to that madness as well?
I think 80 percent of the time it’s the factor that I have a personal dynamic with them. That is already putting them in a comfort zone. They are friends of mine or they are people I know really well in the business. Then the strategy is if I don’t know them, I start with a lot of praise. Once you praise somebody, their defenses drop. And then you can go into other territories. But the first 10 minutes you must praise them because everyone enjoys praises.

If you ever had to do a role reversal and entrust the Koffee brand to another star, who would that be? Have you ever thought about it?
Ranveer Singh. He’d be a great talk show. I think he’s got the personality. He has the sense of humour. He has the ability to think on his feet. He has great repartee. I think he would be amazing.

There are so many Koffee With Karan moments that must be your favourites. Are there any which you remember for not being good or they didn’t turn out to be the way you expected?
There were a couple of them. But why say it. (laughs) There were some that were really deathly boring and I think you can see it on my face because I can’t hide my expressions. Unfortunately my face is like a mirror of my heart. It literally shows what’s going on within. There are times that I have been perplexed and shocked like why is this person so boring and that’s happened rarely few and far between because the format is such that it lends itself to entertainment anyway, but there have been some big bores.

Have you ever been at a loss of words?
I remember when Rakhi Sawant was on the show she was giving one line after another and I was like, ‘Oh my god! She’s amazing. She’s made for this!’ I mean, she was fantastic. I remember her famous line ‘
Jo bhagwan nahi deta wo doctor de deta hai‘. It went down in the history of one-liners. I remember she was like on her feet, like giving it one after the other. And the other time was when Emraan Hashmi gave his rapid fire. You should go and watch his rapid fire, it’s the most honest rapid fire I have seen right through my seven seasons. He’s amazingly honest, disarmed and not bothered about the repercussions. And he actually got away with everything he said because he’s that kind of guy.

Were you surprised with some of these people? Were there any other surprises that you expected a person doesn’t speak but they have just opened up to you?
Tiger Shroff, this season. He’s been very, very quiet and introverted. He really opened up this season. When you see him when the episode airs, he spoke much more than he ever has. So I was pleasantly surprised, I felt that he’s come into his own and he’s commanding a certain kind of presence, that he’s putting out there.

Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani has such an ensemble cast. Where did this though come from? Did you always want to bring these generations of actors together?
The core idea of the film is about Rani and Rocky’s grandparents. It’s to do with their track and that actually is a true story. It has happened within my family. I don’t want to get into details because that would reveal the plot of the film. But it was a trigger point, it’s where it started from the grandparents’ track. That ‘s when I started developing Rocky Aur Rani when I got the idea about the track of the grandparents which is Dharam ji and Shabana in the film.

During JugJugg Jeeyo interview, Raj Mehta said that you were one of the key people to bring Neetu Kapoor back…
I love Neetu ji. I grew up loving Neetu ji and Chintu ji. They were my soul couple. I used to get happiness looking at them. I used to cry to watch their movies. I remember begging to my parents to take me to previews of their films. The trial shows were a big thing in the 70s. When I met her post the tragic loss of one of the finest actors of our country, Rishi Kapoor, I was at their house and we were making JugJugg Jeeyo, and when I saw her, I said, ‘Neetu ji, you’ve got to get back to work and I have a film that I want to bring to you immediately once I knew things were settled down. She was like, ‘I don’t know if I am ready.’ I said, ‘Trust me, the only way you’ll be ready is when you get down to doing it. And I am so glad I convinced her and she got convinced and she says that herself now. That was one point she needed to get out of her zone and I think JugJugg Jeeyo was that moment for her. And I am so glad, she is lovely in the film, warm, has such terrific screen presence and now I am glad she is doing so much work. She is really doing solid stuff and I am so glad that I could have been the first stop for that.

You’ve mentioned in your interviews that Alia Bhatt is like your daughter. Now that she is turning a new leaf in her life, she is going to be a mother. When you first heard about this, what was the feeling you had?
I cried. She came to my office. I remember I was having a bad hair day and I was sitting in a hoodie with cap. And she told me this. And my first emotion was that tears just came out and she came and gave me a hug. I was like I can’t believe you are having a baby. It was like your baby is having a baby. It was a very emotional moment for me, it still is! I’ve seen her from a girl transforming into an outstanding artiste, into this wonderful self-assured woman. And i feel so much pride. Because really, she was my first burst of being a parent. My first burst of parenting was actually with her and she walked into my office when she was 17. She’s 29 today and these last 12 years have been magical for both of us because I share such a strong bond with her. I can’t wait to hold her baby in my arms. It will be a very emotional moment, as close to when I held my own children.

The film industry, as we know, functions on relationships and associations. Your image is that of a person who has these strong relationships over the years. What does it take to be good with everyone and to maintain those relationships?
The thing is that we keep our relationship in the industry very seasonal, as per our work commitments. When you work with somebody, you have a relationship. You move on and work with somebody else and then you don’t. That’s not how I roll. If I have made a connection, I keep the connection. And that’s the only way to do it, keep a connection. I don’t believe in seasonal relationships. If I have connected with you at a party, or a film, at an event… we’ve interacted, we’ve created some kind of warmth between ourselves, you’ve got to keep that connection going. Because people need people and that’s how life will be. I was thinking about it on my own 50th birthday, there were so many people who were there who I may not have worked with. Or not connected with in the last 2-3 years, but I’ve had a relationship with them. We’ve been in touch through their highs and lows, through my highs and lows. And I have always, whether it’s on birthdays, special days, their releases, their big moments in their lives, I’ve always reached out and been there because I’ve been trained to be that person by my parents. So that’s the reason and I think that’s what people don’t do. They fall off the radar with people and then very conveniently sometimes want to jump back. It doesn’t happen like that. A genuine connection comes when you genuinely want to connect. Every relationship needs nurturing and needs building, needs constant attention. You’ve to give that attention to a relationship.

Has it ever been that you’ve had a strong relationship with someone, a really long association and you guys have not worked together?
Yea, I am so close to so many people who I may not have worked with. I have such a warm relationship with Tabu, I’ve never worked with her . Of course, with Madhuri, I have a great regard but we have worked together professionally. But there are people who I have not worked with at all like with Anil Kapoor and his entire family, this was the first time I worked with him in JugJugg Jeeyo but we’ve had such a close relationship. So it’s got nothing to do with work. These relations have been built over years. And many such artistes, actors, technicians, directors who I have a proper functioning relationship with and they may not be my instant work dynamic person, but they are people I have nurtured those relations with.

Ever since these debates have started about north and south films, people are sort of saying that south films are going ahead, Hindi films are in a slump. But you’ve worked with both industries. What is your opinion on this? Is something going wrong with Hindi cinema or is south beating us? How do you look at this?
I think what the south cinema does, in one word, conviction. Nothing shakes that conviction. They believe in their syntax, they believe in what they want to create, they believe they know what their audience wants and they go full throttle with their belief. We have a herd mentality problem. We suddenly are seeing these movies do well, now we’ll try and make those. Before that biopics were doing well, everyone was making biopics. Social dramas were doing well, we were making those. We lack conviction in Hindi cinema. And I am saying that for myself as well. I myself have been a victim to this. Our conviction levels are low. We need to bring that core conviction back into our writing, into our movie making and go back to the good old days where we made films without caring about what the social media, critics, intellectuals, opinion makers were saying. Kuch to log kahenge, logon ka kaam hai kehna. They will keep giving their opinion, let them do what they do. You do what comes to you naturally. And I have had that realisation recently that I want to go back to the basics when it comes to creating content for cinema. People want to come in to watch cinema which is larger than life, which has got the drama levels at an all time high. There are songs and dances in abundance. That’s if you want a theatrical big number. If you want to make a film that is not as wide then go digital. Make it for a different platform or make it for a different audience. People appreciate that too. But don’t think you’ll get high numbers anymore if you don’t go to the conviction path.
But could this be just a phase?
No. Now it’s very out there. Cinemas are for a certain kind of film, digital are for a certain kind of content. Certain films will not do the kind of numbers that they used to do before theatrically. Because the audience’s taste in the last three years totally evolved and changed. And maybe the pandemic has a lot to do with it. People have gotten used to watching certain films at home. They will not pay that price of a multiplex ticket which comes at a certain cost, including the refreshments etc and travel and everything. Now to get those bums on seats is going to be tougher. You need to have that really big event film or that spectacle film to get really large number. You still might make moderate numbers but to get large numbers like certain content films were doing very large numbers as well. that I don’t think will happen anymore.
Credit Source – https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/web-series/news/hindi/karan-johar-i-cried-when-alia-bhatt-told-me-about-her-pregnancy-i-cant-wait-to-hold-her-baby-in-my-arms-exclusive/articleshow/92672688.cms

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