What an interesting episode!!!! Exactly what we have been asking for, Karan breaking out of the usual circuit of guests and being open to new topics and new considerations. Also, yes, a lot about Salman and Shahrukh, but from a different angle than usual.
Here’s the most important thing about this episode, the entire thing is in Hindi. Karan speaks Hindi (sometimes translating into English for the audience). And Diljit and Badshah speak entirely in Hindi. Lovely fun fluent Hindi, not careful precise learned-from-school Hindi.
Through out the episodes I’ve been noticing who speaks Hindi and who doesn’t. It’s the older generation that does, the ones who came into the industry when it was open to more of the lower-middle classes versus today’s upper upper class actors. With those guests, they will drop into Hindi when they want to tell certain stories or make certain jokes. And Karan will respond in Hindi. And then the conversation will shift and go back to English.
Kangana is the only one who called him out on it, said he makes fun of her for having bad English. And it was weird, because she was choosing to speak English. But on the other hand, Kangana’s career goal of being a leading actress in Hindi film means she has to speak English fluently. Even if she prefers Hindi, she needs to know English too. For business meetings, for script readings, for interviews on English language channels
But Badshah and Diljit don’t have to speak English. They came up a different way and from a different place. Their success in fact relies on being fluent in Hindi, and Punjabi, and not so much English. And so Karan did them the courtesy of speaking the language they are comfortable with, and arranging the show around topics they could discuss.
(Badshah wrote the lyrics for this with a few other people, notice how nice they are? You sing them without the beat and it sounds like a lovely love song. These are people who need to be very good in Hindi to be able to do their jobs, not so much English)
Which is great! It’s a little bit of new territory for the show. It’s still celebrity gossip, he is trying to get his guests to sell a particular version of themselves and open up a bit to the audience. But his rapid fire is more about music than actors this time. And the personal stories about music and small town life, not celeb glamour.
Ultimately, to me, it feels like he is just being a good host. I don’t know why he decided to bring Diljit and Badshah on, probably because they are both involved in Dharma films. But once he made that decision, he carefully built an episode that would show them off well and make them feel at home. From using buttermilk for the shots to giving them a fashion quiz instead of a Hindi film gossip quiz. He is altering the show for their strengths, not in a patronizing way but in a way that will make them look as good as possible.
Karan starts by making fun of himself a little bit. He comes out in a half-robe and says he was running late and so is dressed like this, and then gives a monologue about how he is obsessed with his airport looks, figures them out with his stylist in advance and then is disappointed when the paparazzi aren’t there. Sometimes he even tips of the paparazzi just to make sure they will catch him. It puts him on a human level, reveals the superficiality of fame, and is a reminder of his fashion addiction. All of which serves to build up his next two stars as famous in a different more deserving way, and similar fashion addicts.
Once Badshah and Diljit come out, Karan gives them the official introduction, saying he is excited to have two rockstars and pop stars on the show for the first time, and establishes them as nice simple boys from villages. These are the themes he will return to over and over again, that these are musicians not actors and stars, and that they are simple people from simple places. The two of which go together in modern India, since simple people from simple places can no longer find a place in the film industry.
The conversation starts easily and moves easily along, all in Hindi. It feels different in Hindi, like they are speaking more easily and more simply. And Karan is speaking more carefully, less able to jump in and leap on a particular word or turn of phrase. The guests can relax.
They start by sharing stories about how they began. They remember a time when Diljit and Badshah were standing on a roof after filming in Chandigarh talking about being rich someday. Diljit remembers as a teenager talking on a pretend phone to his brother pretending to be famous. And then they talk about finding music, Badshah was in Chandigarh in engineering college when he found music. Diljit is surprised by that, says it was much earlier for him. And Karan pushes for stories of their first performances. Diljit says his first performance was when his teacher was running late, so he went out and sang instead and forgot the lyrics. Badshah says his was when he was a teenager, someone heard him rapping and offered him a job, he went out and did it at this big fancy club, and then learned later it was a gay bar. Diljit laughs that it sounds much nicer than his first venues, he started singing at places where you had to brush off the seat of your pants when you stood up to get the soil off, he was “grounded”. His first real concert was international, in Toronto. Which was also his first time on an airplane. He had to get first class on the way out, and then economy on the way home. On the way out he told staff he was a big singer “Indian Michael Jackson”, on the airplane home he was embarrassed and hid now that he was in economy and clearly not that big of a star.
(I got curious about just when he became a really big star. He’s 34 now, this movie was 6 years ago when he was 28. Already a popular actor and singer, but it was Jatt & Juliet that made him a national name, not just within the Punjabi community)
These are very different from the usual stories we hear from people on the show. It’s not funny English language stories about being embarrassed on their first film shoot, or at their first international show. It’s about coming up the hard slow way through the music scene, doing show after show and hoping to get noticed. And it’s about not necessarily having that much in common before starting their music careers. They didn’t grow up together in the same exclusive neighborhoods and schools, they came from all over and landed up together in Chandigarh.
To break from the talking parts, Karan suggests they do a rap. So Badshah does “Proper Patiala” and Diljit does “Ikk Kudi” with Badshah putting in rap off the top of his head. It felt rude to me on the first watch, that he was making them perform. But then, this is their job. And this is a promotional appearance. Why not let them show off their talent to a new audience?
(it really is a great song)
The one thing Karan is pushing them on, trying to open up something new about them in terms of romance. Not specific romance, just an acknowledgement that they interacted with women, like, at all. From the way they are dancing around, I am guessing it is more of a taboo for Punjabi stars and in the Punjabi celebrity world to acknowledge any interaction outside of appropriate marriage with a woman, than it is for Hindi stars. Not like anyone is flaunting the love outside of marriage in any industry, but at least it is accepted in the Hindi industry that a single man over 30 has probably dated.
Karan goes at it many ways, starts by asking if how they handle female fans, Badshah turns it into a joke saying a lot of his female fans are aunties. Diljit says that for a him a fan is just a fan, doesn’t notice if they are male or female. Karan pushes him on that, and he resists it. Makes sense, Badshah is married with a kid, he can afford to be casual about these things. Diljit is still single, anything he talks about might be in the present, not just the past.
For once, Karan brings up something on his social media section that I am actually curious about! Diljit has this strange long-running thing for Kylie Jenner. He comments on her photos all the time. He doesn’t know her and she never responds, probably doesn’t know who he is, he is just commenting like any other fan. But on his official celebrity account that the Indian media is tracking (even if Kylie isn’t). I always thought there was some kind of bigger meaning to it, Diljit was posing as an average guy with celebrity crushes or knew his fans really liked Kylie or something. But no, based on how he answers Karan’s questions, he really just likes Kylie Jenner! In a “celebrity crush” kind of way. And a shallow one at that, later he reveals he knows nothing about her family or celebrity, not even the name of her child. He just likes the way she looks. But, he says, he always comments in Punjabi so she won’t be able to understand it and be embarrassed. An odd combination of stalking and being a gentleman that, somehow, feels very average Punjabi young man to me.
(Really Diljit, what is UP with this? So unembarrassed about it all!)
Along those same lines of being “average”, Karan brings them out with their stories about meeting their respective Hindi film heroes, Salman and Shahrukh. This is the first time Shahrukh has really been pushed this season and, for me, it read more as going in a good direction for these particular guests than for trying to make Shahrukh a thing. If you are a Punjabi young man from a middle-class family, Salman and Shahrukh are going to be your touchstones in the Hindi film industry. These are not guests to ask about Nawazuddin Siddiqui or Vicky Kaushal, or even Ranbir Kapoor. Maybe Dharmendra or Sunny Deol, but that is less of a sure thing than picking on the Khans. So when Karan is asking them celebrity stories, he picks celebrities that the audience in general will know, and who he knows that this guests truly love.
That’s the thing with the stories they tell, it is clear that both of them really love Salman and Shahrukh. Diljit’s story of meeting Salman is that he heard he was shooting nearby (I got the impression that he was shooting a Punjabi film while Salman was shooting a Hindi). There was someone on Diljit’s set who knew Salman, Diljit asked for an intro, she drove him over and Salman was there and it was wonderful. He got a photo on his phone and was looking at it so much when he got home that his mother said “Why don’t you just take it off the phone and put it on the wall so you can always see it?” And that whole story rang true for me. I’m less sure than usual because it was in Hindi not English so I couldn’t parse out the exact wording, but the way he told it and the simple story that it is (no member of some big Salman lesson or something) makes me think it is true, Diljit really did just want to meet Salman Khan.
Badshah’s story is different, not about being a young fan and seeing them out, but about being a fellow performer and interacting for the first time and being shocked at how they are in their private lives. He first met Shahrukh and Salman together, at some awards function, they called him for a party at a vanity van. They were so down to earth and normal. Shahrukh served him biryani with his own hands on a plate. People say that they are acting, but why act in front of everyone all the time? When you are leaving Shahrukh’s house, he gets out to open the car for you. No one acts that nicely, even they (Diljit and Badshah) don’t act that nicely (Diljit agrees). Let me expand on this, people will say Badshah is acting/lying thanks to pressure from Karan. But, why? He could have told any story in the world, but instead he told this kind of a story and it matches exactly with the same stories people have been telling about Salman and Shahrukh for the past 20 years.
And then finally Karan moves into the quiz section! The first quiz is brilliant and super fun, Karan pulls high fashion outfits out of a suitcase and asks Badshah and Diljit to identify them. And they do!!!! I was stunned! I hadn’t even heard of half these brands, and they are rattling off not just the brand but the line. I just find this fascinating, two men who can’t speak English, yet are international stars, yet still try to maintain regular morals and are embarrassed to admit to any romantic relationships, yet know and follow international high fashion obsessively. So many contrasts! Such a reminder that everyone contains multitudes!
Koffee shots time! This time with buttermilk. Which they both drink and enjoy, although for me that it was crosses the line to being a bit TOO Punjabi. I am sure they would be able to drink coffee like everyone else.
Anyway, if you remember the rules, it’s essentially “have you ever?” but with coffee shots instead of alcohol. Karan is pushing hard again on the romance thing. But it’s such minor stuff! At least, to my ears. He starts with a simple one, drink if you have been with less than 9 women. Diljit asks for clarification and then drinks (meaning he has been with less than 9 women) and is embarrassed even with that. Badshah is a little cocky and says no, he won’t drink (so he has been with more than 9 women). Karan’s other question is if they have made out with a girl in either a car or a field. Diljit is really embarrassed and tries to avoid it but eventually admits that he has. Badshah isn’t embarrassed at all. Karan asks if it was in a car or a field for them, and they both practically agree that you would never risk a field, you’ll get beaten up. HA! Not something that urban South Bombay Karan or his friends have ever had to think about, but for Diljit and Badshah it’s just common sense. Karan’s most shocking question, if they have been with two women at the same time. Badshah has been with two women at the same time, Diljit is shocked.
My guess is, Diljit is lying less here than Badshah. Badshah is a rapper, he is macho and confident and so on and so forth. He is selling himself as a bad boy and like the characters he plays in his song videos. But in reality, he has a really cute little daughter and is married. Sure, he had years before that when he could have made out with women in cars and had threesomes. But if he is being honest about who he is NOW, it would be more cute baby stories than cute clubbing stories. Diljit, on the other hand, could be lying entirely and actually be a horrible drinking partying womanizer. But it doesn’t feel like he is lying to me.
(Oh yeah, Badshah is a wild man, probably up all night emptying bottles. But, not in clubs and not alcohol bottles)
Rapid Fire time!
Badshah starts and does pretty well. Although most of his answers are pretty clearly just based on the only names he knows. But then, Karan slants the questions so that will work. For instance, any director he wants to launch him, he picks Karan. Actress to take on a date, he picks Kiara Advani (currently co-starring with Diljit). Actor to work with, of course he goes with Shahrukh. Role he would want in a film, he picks Diljit’s role in Good News. The only question of this type that is a little tricky is the “overrated actor/actress” question. Badshah picks Kartik Aaryan, I’m guessing he knows him somehow and knows it won’t be offensive. But for the actresses, he passes. The only actress question he asks is when Karan keeps it simple and gives him a couple of names and asks who is hotter. And the most interesting answer for me of these questions, is that he would pick Akshay Kumar as his party planner. Karan is surprised by that, and then Badshah explains Akshay throws his kind of parties, no drinking allowed. So, yeah, that whole “I’m a bad boy rapper” story Badshah was selling….not so much.
But the rest of the questions were music focused! Composer who needs to be more original, Tanishk (maybe because he does a lot of remakes?). Underrated, Amit Trivedi (yes! THANK YOU! I’ve been saying that!). Artist he’d love to work with, Drake (I think he is an American artist?). And rankings of composers, not actors like usual. He puts Amit Trivedi about Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy which is WRONG, Badshah!!!! Amit Trivedi is good but S-E-L is so much better!
Oh, and Badshah had two personal answers. First about who Honey Singh is to him (if you missed this, they had a whole thing with collaborating in the early years and then Honey taking off and not giving him credit). Badshah went with a simple answer of “old friend”. And then Karan ran through a bunch of Hindi actors who Badshah knows, like Varun Dhawan from the Dream Team tour and asked for one word descriptions. The only one that stood out for me was Arjun Kapoor described not just as a friend, but as a “friend-brother”.
And that was it! Badshah’s rapid fire round. Nothing about his wife or daughter, almost nothing about his feud with Honey Singh, mostly interesting discussion of composers.
And now it is Diljit’s turn. And he is dignified about it, but kind of indicates he is nervous about answering so fast with English questions. Karan promises to go slow and explain the questions and that Badshah can help him. There’s no shame from either side about it, I almost want to use this episode to explain how best to handle cultural differences. Karan is the host, he adjusts. Diljit and Badshah are the guests, they speak up when something is hard for them. And they find a common ground (Shahrukh, Salman, fashion).
Diljit is slow, and careful, but he does well. Better than some other guests that have tried to push themselves out of their comfort zone. Although he also ducks a lot of questions. Celebrity he would most like to date, would be himself. Most difficult co-star, everyone is perfect. Kylie’s sisters, he doesn’t get distracted and doesn’t know their names. Or Kylie’s middle name or the name of her daughter. So he’s clearly just an instagram fan. Best director, Karan of course. Best singer, this one he cares about, Shankar Madhavan because he doesn’t need autotune, he can always hit the note. Same with Arijit or Sonu Nigam, he picks Arijit and doesn’t hesitate. And in terms of rappers, he picks Badshah. Which, no duh, they are sitting on the couch together. But he has a reason for it, says his voice is so-so but his lyrics are the best, his strength is in what he can write. Oh, and one other fun answer, between Taylor Swift and Katrina he would date Taylor because “we can talk about music”. So Diljit is still selling himself as a nice shy Punjabi boy who only cares about music. But I am also still kind of buying what he is selling.
Game Time! The buzzer game. And again, Karan has tailored it for the guests. He starts by having them name Punjabi pet names, they both do wonderfully. He moves on to fashion brands, they do even better. But it gets tricky when Karan asks them to translate English song lyrics into Punjabi. Badshah does fine, but Diljit struggles a bit. On the flip side, Badshah translates “shape” on the fly and Diljit challenges him because he used a Hindi rather than Punjabi word and suggest a Punjabi replacement. He’s really good at languages, just not English. And that’s okay. Okay with Karan, and okay with Diljit (he has no embarrassment, just says he won’t do well if it is in English), and therefore okay with the audience too who see his lack of embarrassment.
The next quiz is the same idea, Karan gives the English translation of Hindi lyrics and they have to buzz and identify the Hindi song it is from. Badshah is good, which tells me he spent a fair amount of time listening to classic Hindi songs. But Diljit is too slow, it’s the processing of the English back into Hindi that is slowing him down.
On the other hand, a Shahrukh-Salman fan quiz (“what is the name of Shahrukh’s house?”, like that), they both do very well. This is what I mean about Karan bringing the Khans up more in this episode but I think for the sake of the guests, because it is a topic they are on firm ground with, much firmer than recognizing American pop songs.
And the phone call challenge is complete different, just asking them to get any family member besides their parents on the phone. No celebrities at all. And it’s over once Badshah gets someone, no effort to try to string it out. They probably could have skipped this section entirely for this episode, but I guess Karan assumed the audience would notice and figured out a quick painless way to include it.
The quiz ends with Diljit losing by a massive amount (because of all the English questions), on top of also losing the Rapid Fire. Karan sort of gestures towards comforting him, but Diljit is just glad that “Karan Sir” invited him on the show, he had a wonderful time. They are both happy to have just been on the show. And I am happy they were on the show! It was different, it was nice, it shook things up a bit. And it makes me like both Badshah and Diljit better, seeing that they really are (probably) nice Punjabi boys who don’t drink and are embarrassed to talk about romance. And think of Karan Johar as “Karan Sir”.
What did you think?