Koffee With Karan report! I was very curious about this episode, because Aamir doesn’t do many interviews. And the Dangal girls haven’t really given any so far. And it didn’t turn out too badly!
Mostly it didn’t turn out badly because Karan did his homework. He is a good host, not like a good talk show host, but a good host to people in his home (which in this case is a studio). Normally that means he knows enough about his friends and fellow movie people to ask them questions about what they want to talk about, to avoid touchy subjects, and most of all to read their faces and know when he should steer away from something and when they want him to steer into it.
But the Dangal girls are complete unknowns. And so, rather than just get a list of prepared topics, Karan mentioned meeting with them in advance, getting to know them, and hearing their stories. And then he know what they could talk about, and talk about well, for his show. And he had some sense of how to read their faces and know when to keep a story going and when to cut it off.
And Aamir was there too! The whole episode he was ready to leap in to finish a story or suggest another one, and to just fool with them and make them feel at home, instead of like they are on international television being introduced to audiences around the globe.
So, how did the episode itself go? Well, the first thing in my notes is “Beard and socks”. I just don’t know how I feel about them. The beard could be for a role, but so far as I know, Aamir’s next movie is that Yash Raj thing about “Confessions of a Thug”. Plus that little cameo thing in Secret Superstar.
But he doesn’t usually start seriously working on a film until he’s entirely finished with another one, right? And he is right in the middle of Dangal prep right now. So, is it possible this whole facial hair thing is just, like, for fun? He thinks it looks good somehow? Maybe it does look good and I am just not seeing it?
Similarly, the socks? He’s wearing this slightly short pants and keeps crossing his legs so he wants us to see them. Multi-colored stripes? With a black suit? Oh Aamir, I just don’t know.
The girls look great though! I wonder who picked out their dresses? Themselves, Aamir, or Karan? Whoever it was did a great great job. Really flattering outfits, that are also kind of youthful looking. Makes it easier to believe them as surrogate daughters to Aamir instead of sexy co-stars. And looks really good with the short hair, gives them a kind of 1950s pixie cute look.
Let’s see, next note is about “3 weeks before a release”. Aamir and Karan are talking about how he just stops sleeping the last few weeks before a movie comes out. And everyone knows this about him, he can’t even be alone, he will call up Karan or “Ranbir, Ayan, Jackie.” What the heck is Aamir doing hanging out with Ayan Mukherjee? Is it just because he is close with Ranbir and Ayan and Ranbir come as a matched set? Oh, and he calls Jackie (I assume Jackie Shroff) because he lives in the same building and can come up and talk. And Karan and Aamir agree that Jackie is a great person to talk to in the middle of the night. Oh man, now I want that! I want Jackie Shroff to come calm me down the next time I freak out in the middle of the night!
(But not looking like this, because this would not help me sleep. For all sorts of reasons)
Anyway, what I found interesting in Aamir talking about his stress is how it was kind of a backhanded acknowledgement that this is the price he pays for his odd filming schedule. He only does one movie at a time, and only one every few years, but that means each one has to be really really big, and therefore he is really really worried about it.
Moving right on, Karan digs into the constant controversy of whether Aamir directs his movies or not. This comes up with every single release. Because the answer is “Yes, of course he does!” I think all the stars do to some degree. Salman was just on talking about how he completely re-wrote the script for Dabangg, insisted on songs, put in his own dialogue, etc. etc. As far back as Main Hoon Na, Farah was talking in the director’s commentary about some days when Shahrukh just took the second unit and directed his own bits and she wasn’t even on set. I don’t know why Aamir always gets the most questions about it. Maybe because he has more time? Time to sit in the editing bay, to have a million script meetings, etc. etc.
Anyway, as always, his denials aren’t really denials. He puts it as “I’m just trying to help him achieve his vision by making suggestions” and “some days I wasn’t even on set!” I believe both of these statements, but that’s still not really how “actors” versus “directors” usually work. Usually the actors aren’t so much involved in the director’s vision at all, let alone making suggestions about it. And also usually people are only on set for their scenes, it’s not like “can you believe it, some days I wasn’t even on set! Although I usually was.”
Moving on, Karan gave a lot of praise to Dangal, and Aamir gave a lot of praise to ADHM, and then they talked about how rare it is for Aamir to comment about a movie. And he explained that he has a terrible poker face, essentially, any time he goes for a screening the press is outside asking for his reaction and he can’t fake it. So if it is a friend’s movie, he has learned to just not go, because if he doesn’t like it, he doesn’t want the press to know.
Huh! It took me a second to unravel that, but essentially what he is saying is “as a good friend, I want to hide from the public that your movie is terrible so it will run longer”. Which is a nice sentiment, but just a little deceptive towards the public. Oh, and also in this discussion, Karan mentioned that he knew this, which is why he just invited “the 3 of them” to a screening of ADHM. Oh, who’s the 3 of them???? Aamir, Kiran, and Azad? Aamir, Kiran, and someone else? Karan is counting himself so it is Aamir, Kiran, and Karan? How confusing must that conversation have been? Like Ranbir and Ranveer.
Gah, I’m only a third done with my notes! Okay, what’s next? Oh right, then the girls come out, Karan explains that he already met with them and got to know them, and goes right into asking about the casting process. It’s a good introduction, partly because it helps us relate to their story of rags-to-riches, or unknown-to-famous. And also partly because it is fascinating, just because it is so unusual! They actually got this big break through merit and an open casting call! Who has that in Hindi film?
And it’s also kind of cute, they talk about how they were both trying to get their start as actresses, and Fatima who ended up with the bigger role in Dangal hadn’t been cast in a single part and was about to give up. And then they started the casting process for this and ended up becoming friends right from the first day, and for the next month and half as they kept coming for call backs, Fatima would pick up Sanya on her scooter and they would go in together.
And then I get interested again industrially when they talk about how they finally learned they got the parts. Remember how Aamir was just “trying to help the director”? Yeah, he was also the one to tell the girls they had the roles. Well, him and Kiran. In their living room. I’m kind of getting the feeling that Aamir wasn’t exactly just “helping the director” at this point.
Not that I think this is wrong or inappropriate or anything! It’s good, Aamir’s got tons of experience and wisdom and all that. He should be taking the lead in important things like casting, not leaving it up to some untried director. It’s just too bad that he has to constantly apologize for it.
Oh, and the girls got even closer during the rehearsals and then filming and then promotion. To the point where, they said, their friends think they are dating each other. And they are really cute together! I would be very happy to spread this rumor. But also happy if they end up dating some nice young man like Harshvardhan Kapoor or Tiger Shroff or some other similarly recently launched guy with a bright future.
(I know Tiger is supposed to be seeing this lady, but having seen her in Dhoni, I think he might be able to do better)
Final story from filming is about how they all got close towards the end of the sheet when they got into playing “Katang” (kite flying). And the girls joked about how competitive Aamir was, which he immediately denied. But Karan agreed with the girls and said, and this was the interesting part, “Aamir is like Aditya Chopra, they hate to lose.” Huh! Not two people I would necessarily have thought of in the same breath before, but they do have a lot in common! If that Yash Raj movie with Aamir and Amitabh and produced by Aditya ever gets off the ground it will either be the easiest shoot ever (because they are so similar) or the hardest (because they are so similar)
And then there’s a cute bit where Karan has a bunch of people who really know Aamir give little talking heads about him. And, I am ashamed to say, I only recognise a few of them. Anushka and Kat and Kunal Kapoor, of course. Also Rajkumar Hirani and whats-er-name, that choreographer who trained with Farah. But the other two, I am at a total loss. I did find it interesting watching the reactions of the girls and Aamir to what was said. I noticed that they got very serious and nodding along with Raju was talking, like they wanted to learn from him. And that there was the most laughter of recognition with Kunal (which makes sense, since his mentor/co-star relationship to Kunal would be the closest to how he relates to the girls).
And then the rapid fire round! Just Aamir, not the girls. Which isn’t very sporting really, since he is guaranteed a basket. But it kind of makes sense. Firstly because it is a lot to expect of these untrained girls to be able to come up with those kind of clever quotable answers that Karan wants. And second because we don’t really want to know what they say. Half of the fun of the quiz is tracing back the gossip and feuds and all from the answers, and they are two new to have an feuds yet.
Although Karan does leave it open for the girls to “help” Aamir, which is nice, so if they have a really clever response they can throw it in. And Fatima does have one comment that was so clever I wrote it down. Karan asks what advice Aamir would give Shahrukh, and Aamir ducks the question with a simple “he is doing wonderfully, I don’t think he needs any advice” and Fatima inserts a “Tell him I love him”. Which makes me love her!
Couple of other interesting things from the rapid fire. Aamir is asked who he is nervous around and he immediately says “Mr. Bachchan” to which Karan says “We are all like that”. Which is nice having them say it, but what makes me believe it is the “Mr.” Shahrukh is Shahrukh, Salman is Salman, but Amitabh is “Mr. Bachchan.” Oh, and Aamir responds to who can get him really upset with “Vinod Chopra” and Karan laughs like “yes I know exactly what you mean”. WHAT?!?!? What do they mean??!?!
Another interesting moment, he asks Aamir a series of questions about “would you play this role, would you play that role”. And it is all building up to “father to a leading young star of today like Ranbir.” Even “homosexual” comes before that. Because playing a “father” is of course the most objectionable possible role. And of course Aamir is willing to play all of those parts, because he is Aamir.
Another interesting series of questions, if Aamir finds a woman “hot” or “not”. Usually this question is in a ranking format, but I guess Karan knew that Aamir was way to gentlemanly to play like that. But he’s even to gentlemanly to play this watered down version! It’s a straight up “hot” or “married, so I can’t say.” What I really love is that he puts respectable Bachchan Bahu Aishwarya in the same basket of “married, it wouldn’t be right” as he does former porn star and current item girl Sunny Leone. Because if a woman is married, that’s all that matters.
(Married, so completely unsexual so far as Aamir is concerned. Also, that hand thing is still scary)
And then there is the “Koffee Kwiz” (I don’t know if it is spelled like that, but it would have to be, right?). Which is the best part of the episode! Oh my gosh, Aamir really IS competitive! You know how Karan is constantly keeping score and it really seems like he is just making it up? Certainly I can’t follow it. Anyway, towards the end of this match, Aamir suddenly pauses to clarify “It’s still 8-all, right?” How does he know?!?!? He must really be competative to be able to track the points of this ridiculous game while he is playing it.
Also, after debating it for several episodes, I am beginning to think that the Koffee Kwiz might be slightly rigged. It just seems like Karan manages to keep it tied in every episode until there is a final tie breaker. That can’t just happen naturally every time! Next thing you know, I’ll learn there isn’t even a Santa Claus.
(Or there is a Santa, but it’s just Aamir Khan doing intensive method practice for his next children’s party)