I Saw Varun Dhawan Live!!!!!

I saw Varun Dhawan!!!  And other people were there too.  I mean, other people in the audience, it wasn’t just me and Varun alone in a room.  But also, there were other people in the show.  Only, I don’t really care about any of them.  Which is really the big news, that Varun was so clearly superior to everyone else in the Dream Team show.

They knew he was superior too, the organizers I mean.  He got the huge entrance, he was the second to last act, he was even the center image on the final poster.  In theory, that could all change as soon as September 9, if Siddharth’s Baar Baar Dekho is a huge hit.  Varun is coming off of a really good year, and a fairly big hit just a few weeks ago.

But I don’t think so.  Based on what we saw last night, Varun actually does have a little something extra that the others didn’t.  It wasn’t just that he got the big entrance (lowered down from the ceiling!!!), it was that he did a little bit of crowd interaction before he started his dance, he shepherded the rest of the cast on and off stage at the end and, most importantly, when he was onstage I actually wanted to watch him the whole time, not look away for a second even to see his images projected on the big screens.  There was something special about him that made him shine out.  It was the same difference I saw in the SLAM tour between Shahrukh and Abhishek and the rest of them.

Of course, I could be wrong, I have been before, I saw Student of the Year and thought that Siddharth was the clear standout and Alia and Varun were going nowhere.  Which was SUPER wrong!  In the show last night, Siddharth was fine, still really pretty, very good at removing his shirt, but nothing really more than that.  And Alia was fun, peppy, but in terms of really selling her songs, giving us lots of bright expressions and perky eyes, Parineeti was actually better.

Katrina and Parineeti were the ones that really shocked me.  One of them was much better than I expected, and the other was much much worse.  Of course, it’s always hard to tell with stuff like this, Kat could have just been having a random off night, and Parineeti could have been having a really good one.  But what I saw was Parineeti convincing us she was having the time of her life, making us all smile in sympathy.  And Kat just seeming like she was forced onstage with a gun to her head or something.  It was so the opposite of what I was expecting that I ran it by all my friends in the car on the way home, and we all saw the same thing.  Kat just did not seem to be having fun, and Parineeti was a blast!

Parineeti and Alia were actually close in terms of seeming to be enjoying themselves and really being fun to watch.  Them, I could see it moving back and forth between the two depending on who had expresso that morning or something as to who sells it the most in the show.  Last night, Alia just smiled a little less widely, moved her hips a little less in the songs, that kind of thing.  But it was close!

(Also, Alia did a lot with this song, and with Udta Punjab, and that just made me miss Shahid.  I bet he is really really good onstage.  I mean, there’s a reason they keep using him for IIFA and FilmFare and all those shows)

Katrina, it was just on a whole other level of stiffness.  She was the last act, right after Varun.  And she got another huge entrance, being surrounded by robed figures and walking through the aisles with handlights signaling the way.  Oh, and also being surrounded by ALL THE SECURITY IN THE WORLD!!!  Varun walked through the crowd too, minimal security.  I didn’t see it, but one of my friends said as he walked through the crowd, someone sort of pushed a baby or small child forward for him to see and pat on the head.  Nothing like that was happening with Kat!  No one was getting within 10 feet of her.

But then she got onstage and it was just kind of bleh.  She didn’t even really look like “herself”, at least the self we are used to from movies.  She was way way skinnier in real life than she looks on film.  Or maybe this is something new?  I remember when the first looks for “Kaale Chasme” came out, being upset by how skinny she looked.  Anyway, skinny!  She looked skinny!  It was especially noticeable after just seeing Parineeti, who also looks very different than she used to, has clearly lost a lot of weight, but is still, I don’t know, shapely?  Solid?  I wasn’t worried about her being knocked over in a stiff breeze the way I was about Katrina.

(It’s not an optical illusion, she really is half the size of Siddharth.  And Siddharth isn’t exactly huge!)

Her face also looked really different.  I couldn’t put my finger on it, but one of the friends I brought is a performer and does her own stage make-up, and she said Kat was using a ton of contouring make-up, drawing on her cheekbones and all of that.  Again, this could just be the difference between film and real life, I know you need a whole other level of make-up to make facial expressions stand out on stage than you do on films.  But it was odd, seeing as all the other actors and actresses still looked like themselves, and Kat just didn’t.

Oh, and she didn’t participate in the little interview things!  Wait, I should back-up and explain the structure of the show for you poor people who aren’t lucky enough to live near a Dream Team city.

Each performer got their own little solo section, beginning with a little video montage introducing them, quick clips from their movies words like “Sophisticated” or “Charming” or whatever, and then finally “When you dream….You dream of [Performer Name].”  It started with Alia, then Aditya Roy Kapur (who was fine on stage, seemed kind of comfortable with it, but there wasn’t much for him to do.  I mean, name a popular Aditya Roy Kapur song that isn’t “Meri Aashiqui” or “Tum Hi Ho”.  You can’t, right?  And it’s not like there’s much to do with the Aashiqui songs, you just sort of stand there and sway while they play in the background.  He ended up doing “Balam Pichkeri” and “Badtameez Dil”, which technically aren’t “his” songs, but I guess it’s okay because he was in the movie at least?), then counting down through the rest to Varun, and finally Katrina.  After the intro video, they would show up onstage and do a quick series of dances to their biggest hits (or, in Aditya Roy Kapur’s case, Ranbir Kapoor’s biggest hits).  And then the stage would go black, and to finish out their bit and give the props people time to reset, there would be another video, a cute thing where they each read interview questions and answered them.  I am sure the answers were scripted, but they were also really cute.  Only, Kat didn’t do that.

(Look, even the official video is just lyrics onscreen!  There’s nothing for a performer to really do with it)

Kat did do a little live bit, right at the end, and the idea was really cute and clever, but she did NOT seem to be into it!  This tour, of course, comes at a terrible time for her in terms of her personal life.  The shock of the Ranbir break up still hasn’t died down, and she hasn’t had a hit movie in a while, so she is really most well-known at the moment as “girl who lived with and got engaged to Ranbir Kapoor and then they broke up.”

So, they decided to address the whole thing head on, and she and Karan did a bit where he confirmed she was single, and then announced that all 3 boys were going to come out and have a “swayamvar” and compete for her hand!  So, all 3 guys came out, and they were really good with it.  The seemed relaxed and smile-y onstage, they were kind of punching each other on the shoulders sort of feeling like a real group of young men who knew each other, and getting into the fake competition.  And they each did a little thing with Katrina that felt semi-scripted and semi-improvised.  Like, I am sure it is the same music every night, but maybe tonight Varun spins and dips and lifts her up, maybe tomorrow night he he just does a spin the whole time, maybe the next night he pretends to sing to her, and so on.  Just, it looked more like he was legitimately leading her in the dance than like they had rehearsed these same moves over and over again.  And the same with the interactions with Aditya and Siddharth.

And then at the end, really clever ending, Katrina announces she doesn’t want any of the 3 boys, she wants Karan!  She wants to live and die with him!  And Karan replies, that “we can live and die together, but we aren’t doing anything else!”

So, yeah, it was a fun bit, it addressed all the rumors and scandal in a joke-y way, the boys got to show off their woo-ing ability, and their improvising ability, but the entire time Katrina just looked like she was going to be sick.  I mean, she smiled and she said her lines, but it did not feel like her smile reached her eyes, and it did not feel like she was enjoying saying her lines.  I don’t know, maybe she is just one of those people who is fine on camera, but terrible on stage?  Although then I have to wonder, why the heck did she agree to be on this tour?  Maybe she just really wanted to get out of the country?  Maybe Karan gave her an ultimatum that it was part of being chosen for Baar Baar Dekho?

Karan, meanwhile, LOVED the stage!  He was the final-final act, then did the talky bits with Katrina and Alia and Parineeti, then stayed for the big finale when everyone was onstage at once.  And he was just ON all night.  I’ve noticed that he has his little like “Karan Johar” persona that he puts on for some interviews, and his cameo appearances in films, and some parts of his TV show.  It’s the same persona you saw in the awesome Alia Bhatt AIB video, or in his little bit in Shaandar (best part of that movie).  Kind of bitchy, kind of campy, basically kind of a queen (which he called himself at one point last night).

(I love this video.  And it was a really smart thing for Alia to do for her public image, and it was really really nice of Karan to participate in it)

But, it’s definitely an “act”, because if he is doing a serious interview about his work, that goes away.  And from what other people have said about working with him, that can’t be what he is always like.  I mean, they aren’t saying “oh the sets are so fun, Karan always cracking jokes, but don’t get on his bad side, because he will just tear you apart!”  They are saying “he knows what he wants, he is very encouraging to young actors, everything is very clear.”  Heck, he couldn’t have turned Dharma into the industry powerhouse it is if he was just going around everywhere making bitchy remarks and never getting serious!

The Karan persona was there to entertain us during that bit with Katrina, and another bit with Alia and Parineeti (they had a pretend competition with 3 back-up dancers each pulled from the audience, of course it was a tie, and 2 audience volunteers, one from each team, got a crown and a sash for being the best dancer), and that soooooooper boring bit at the end of all these shows when all the sponsors are brought out on stage and thanked.

What was really interesting was his introduction song montage!  We were wondering about this ever since the show was announced, what the heck is Karan Johar going to do?  Well, he did everything!  Danced, pretended to sing along to the lyrics, the whole bit!  But the best part was the songs.  The whole night people were cheering for the songs as much as the people.  Well, when Karan came out, he leaned into that.  He was introduced with the Kuch Kuch Hota Hai theme (just like half the Dharma production movies start), and then it ran through “Suraj Hua Madham”, “Pretty Woman”, basically the biggest hits of the Dharma back catalogue.  But the way it was done, starting with Kuch Kuch, it was a clear message of “applaud this man, because he is the reason for all these great movies.  Even if he didn’t show up onscreen, he is what made them happen.”

Oh, I should back up and mention there was one entertainer who got more applause for himself than his songs, or at least they were kind of the same thing.  Badshah was great!!!  I was a little nervous going in, because of course I am a Yo Yo Honey Singh girl, but I spent the last week listening to the Badshah channel on Saavn, and you know, he’s written some pretty great songs!

(This is still my favorite, by like a thousand percent.  May be my favorite song of the year so far)

But what was more important, he really really knew how to work the crowd!  He did all the smart tricks, had us scream on the count of three, tried to get us to compete with each other, saying “this half of the audience is having a better time than the other half!  Why don’t you guys scream as loud as them?”  Even pulling out the “you know, all the other cities we went to, the crowd was having a much better time than Chicago.  Why don’t you show us what you can do?”

And the crowd was really really into him!  Just looking at the people sitting near us, the row right in front was this group of couples, ranging from maybe 30 to 50.  Alia’s onstage, nothing.  Varun takes his shirt off, nothing.  Baadshah starts his song, suddenly this 40 year old auntie has her hands in the air rocking along, and some 30 year old engineer-looking guy is screaming his head off.  I mean, I was screaming along too.  Basically, just assume I was screaming all night.  I may sound analytical and sophisticated now, two days later, writing it up.  But did you notice I didn’t post at all yesterday?  Yeah, that was because I spent the day in bed, too worn out to even type.

A big part of that was because lovely lovely Karan structured the whole show to make young woman lose their minds screaming.  I mean, Badshah was there for the manly types.  But the rest of it was all for the ladies.  The actresses would come out and do a little dance to their songs that we knew, so we could scream along, and that was fun.  But the actors came out, and would do their first little dance, and then would run back stage and come out in a slightly different outfit for the next number, like a vest or a jacket with no shirt.  And then they would slooooooooowly strip out of the vest or jacket while we all lost our minds.  And then they would pose for use.  And then they would do a whole song, shirtless.  By the end, I was almost feeling bad for them!  I mean, they looked so cold!  But, I was still screaming my head off.




(Photos from @iFaridoon on twitter, moviemavengal turned me on to him, if you want a moment by moment shot by shot summary of the show, check out his feed!)

So, yeah, now I have to finish this, post it, and then go to church and be calm and proper and decent, and pretend that I didn’t spend 4 hours slowly losing my mind on Friday night, followed by 10 hours in bed trying to recover yesterday.



16 thoughts on “I Saw Varun Dhawan Live!!!!!

  1. Kat seems to be a very private person and does not seem to be happy about random people infringing her space.Which I respect, but she’s in the wrong profession if she believes that.She’s a star, but barring one or two movies(Rajneeti and My brother ki dulhan) she comes across very wooden in movies too.I worry for her and Sid (whom I like off screen but never onscreen) in Baar baar dekho.Usually their co-star (like Fawad or Alia) does the heavy work and they go along with the flow.But with two lightweights, I don’t know about BBD.

    Varun and Rajkumar Rao are the cream of the current crop of young actors.Of course Varun has the support of KJo and the rest of Bollywood.It is great that he’s coming together with Sriram Raghavan for another movie.Knowing the latter it’ll probably be another thriller.

    As for Alia’s video it is obvious that KJo was behind it, rather than Mahesh Bhatt.Shagun Batra was the director and he’s KJo’s man.Mahesh might probably have said “Suck it up kid.Humiliation is good for the soul.You can channel this in future roles.”


    • Co-sign 100% with all of this! Except for Rajkummar Rao. He is a super good actor, but he is never going to be a star for me, because I can’t get past his character in Queen! I see him onscreen and all the hatred rises up in me again. Unless he does another a performance that good, only likeable, he is dead to me. By the 3rd time I saw Queen, I was literally shaking my head in disgust every time he appeared.


      • Aw really? Rajkummar Rao has been such a scene stealer for me starting from Kai Po Che. He does painfully earnest so well, of course it’s nothing like Varun’s sexy cockiness, but in quieter films like Aligarh, he brings such heart and humanity to those characters. Plus, he plays a Malayali in Aligarh and his diction is on point.

        Glad to know Varun Dhawan is as entertaining a performer onstage as he is onscreen. I wish I had caught them when they were in my city.


        • If he can manage to play the exact opposite of his character in Queen in something else, that might balance it out for me! So, the perfect boyfriend or love interest who is incredibly supportive and self-sacrificing. Actually, I haven’t seen his movie with Sonam, have you? Could that be my magic Queen antidote?


      • Let’s simply say Dolly ki doli was watchable because of Rajkumar Rao.It was terrible watching Pulkit trying to pull a Chulbul Pandey. Rajkumar Rao is an actor rather than a star.You can tell that this guy has done his homework because he always gets his accent and body language right for the role.He got the National award for best actor in Shahid.


  2. This is fascinating. Were we at the same concert? 🙂 Nish and I thought Parineeti’s set was lame, but she was very animated and seemed to be enjoying it. Varun WAS the highlight of the whole night. He had tons of energy, and was given the hero entrance coming down from the ceiling. Katrina I thought was very good and not looking like she had a gun to her head. I thought she was the most “professional” with a “been there, done that” this is old hat kind of attitude, while the rest seemed like eager young kids doing a big show for this size of crowds for the first time.

    And OMG, thank you for both a woman directing the whole show, and Karan demanding shirtless numbers from the guys. The moment I really laughed was when he did the Rishi part for the Radha song with Alia. He was definitely “out there”. Nish thought he sounded very bossy ordering people around on the stage.

    I caught a few video moments:


    • I don’t know, I think I wanted Katrina to convince me she was as excited as the kids on their first show, even if it was her 20th. But I can see how it could come off as more just relaxed and professional.

      Varun though, I’m not at all surprised you agreed with me on that! I would have been stunned if you disagreed, because to me it was as obvious as the sky being blue or water being wet, that he was the real star of the show. The others were good, but he was just on a whole different level.


  3. And Karan replies, that “we can live and die together, but we aren’t doing anything else!” hilarious.
    I recall seeing a clip of Sheila done live at some outdoor festival, and Akshay was jumping up and down and screaming the chorus to get the audience up — Kat came out and really looked like she wanted to be anywhere else. Maybe she just doesn’t like to dance at live venues – what a shame because she’s got tons of talent on the dance floor that isn’t going to read if we are all worried she’d rather be somewhere else.


    • I can sympathize, because I also get nervous performing (just talking as myself is fine, but I hate performing). On the other hand she did agree to do these shows, it would be nice if she could dig deep and pull out a smile.


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