Finally I am writing this post! It took long enough, I’m sorry. The Koffee posts are some of the most time consuming to write, and what with being super sick, I kept running out of energy to sit upright and be awake.
This episode felt very familiar to me and it took me half the time to figure out why. I kept thinking it was a movie I had just watched. And then I realized it was a movie, my family home movies we watched over Christmas. My Dad was the younger brother of two sisters, the older one was/is responsible and serious. The younger sister was the talkative charming one. And then there was my Dad, the sweet quiet little boy who spent a lot of time with his mother. I’ll put it this way, on the family camping trip, my oldest Aunt was helping set up tents, the younger aunt was mugging for the camera a little, and my Dad was off by himself picking wildflowers. Such a cute little boy!
This is probably a pattern familiar to anyone who has that sister-sister-brother pattern in their family. The oldest is super responsible, the middle one gets to be more carefree and outgoing, and the little brother is just running along behind trying to get a word in edgewise and stay out of the way. And that’s the main take away of the episode for me, I knew these people separately in their professional lives, but seeing all of them combined makes it all fall into place, why Rhea is the one in the background doing all the work, why Sonam is the one in front taking all the attention, and why Harsh is happy just doing his own thing.
This is a nice focused show, maybe having 3 guests meant Karan didn’t have time to let anyone just free-associate, including himself. Karan is also shaking up the jacket/shirt look again, back to a plain black shirt, but with a white jacket instead of a patterned one. It’s a nice clean look. And his opening monologue is nice and clean to, referring back to when he was a kid and his father taught him at parties that if he was introduced in Hindi as “my son”, it meant he should touch the person’s feet, but if he was introduced in English as “my son” it meant it was okay to shake hands. And Anil Kapoor was one of the first people he got the English intro to, shook his hand and always talked to him and listened to him at parties, even when he was an unintelligent uninteresting little boy. And so Anil’s family is like Karan’s family.
It’s a nice story, and interesting for how it gives a glimpse of these parties and networking that starts at a young age. And it also sets a tone of “Anil is nice, his kids are nice, I am having them on my show because I like them”. He isn’t going to pretend it is about their power in the industry or anything like that, this is a personal connection and it’s going to be a personal show.
The Kapoors come out arm in arm. Sonam compliments Karan’s jacket. and starts babbling and interrupting, while Harsh and Rhea are quiet. Karan mentions she was off in London (she says “I love it there”). Karan teases Sonam about dressing fancier than everyone else on the show this year, Sonam doesn’t care, says you just dress for yourself. And Karan checks Harsh about how his mother is since last time Sonam was on, his mother made him cut it up and pull out parts. Harsh says she just doesn’t care. The whole thing is very Sonam focused but, to me, it doesn’t feel like it is because Sonam is the famous pretty one, but more like Sonam is the famous pretty one because she has the personality that will make her talk and interrupt and fuss while her siblings are quiet.
Karan turns to Rhea, and reminds her she was there to keep Sonam in control the last time. Karan goes back to Sonam and asks about her tweets, points out that she is more than just her red carpet looks, and is very progressive. Sonam immediately spins it to LGBTQ rights. Rhea points out it would be hypocritical if they weren’t, because everyone in their community and family and so on is part of that. So, two things are interesting. First the sibling dynamic, that Sonam does most of the talking but Rhea is in the background ready to jump in with the spin as needed. And second, Sonam and LGBTQ issues is a transparent positioning for her possible queer role in Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa. But on the other hand, even taking that role means taking a big risk and making a statement, so it makes sense that someone who truly feels for these issues would have a history of speaking out about them before taking the part.
Karan started with Rhea and Sonam, but now is ready to try to bring Harsh into the conversation. Karan asks if Harsh’s introverted because of his sisters. Rhea takes control of the answer and Sonam and Harsh both sit back and just watch, which kind of answers the question. Rhea says Harsh is coming into his own more because there is space in the house, meaning Sonam is gone. “AK” keeps asking “when is she coming?”, meaning “how long do we have?”, because things are calmer with her gone. Both Sonam and Anil are sensitive and cautious around each other. But Rhea is his friend, walks every morning. Poor baby brother Harsh, even a question directed to him about him gets turned into a discussion of his sisters.
And then it’s back to Sonam, talking about how Sonam is always confident in her looks. She very confidently says that Bhansali told her she didn’t have a bad angle. But Rhea points out it is mostly AK who gave her that confidence, she walks into a room and he says “you are looking beautiful” every time. On the other hand, Rhea says Anil told her not to be an actress because her personality would make her more the heroine’s friends. But it wasn’t hurtful to her, because they also all know Rhea is his favorite. And Rhea would never want to be an actress anyway, since she wouldn’t be in control (such a typical oldest child!). The end conclusion is that all 3 kids think they are Anil’s favorite, because he treats each of them differently and special.
Karan uses this to transition into talking about Anil. Only, it doesn’t feel like “Anil the movie star” and that’s why they are all excited about him, it feels like “Anil the loving and funny center of the family” and that’s why they all have stories. They aren’t telling stories about his wise words of advice and famous friends and stuff, it’s stories about what they see every day within the household. For instance, he spends an hour working with an acting coach on his lines for every role, screaming and carrying on, it’s on the third floor of the house but they can hear it straight down to the first floor. And his wife Sunita/Sonu just sighs and says “your father….” and gets on with things. It’s a cute story and it’s also cute the way they tell it, bouncing between child. Immediately gives us the feeling of them as a united 3 with the same strong loving father.
And that is how Karan transitions into Anil’s video about them, not “Anil the movie star”, but “Anil the silly Papa”. What I like about Anil’s video is that he doesn’t try to explain his children, or take any kind of credit for them. He regards them as wonderful mysteries, people who are always surprising and delighting him. Rhea doing Bhangra at a party, Harsh declaring he wants no more birthdays at age 7 or 8, he doesn’t understand it and he is thrilled not to understand it, to have this interesting people to get to know. And he ends by telling all three of them that he is blessed and proud of them and (a bit of a surprise) telling Karan he is proud of him too. I think this is the first time one of these videos has broken character and directly addressed Karan. It feels of a part with Karan’s intro, acknowledging his own love for Anil and connection to the family that goes far beyond and before professional life. Oh, and the kids and Karan also make fun of Anil for insisting on reshoots and editing of his video, because of course he wanted it to be perfect.
Karan then leads into general talk, getting the siblings to talk about others instead of themselves. Rhea and Sonam take it upon themselves to explain Harsh (classic older sister move). They say their mother was extra protective of Harsh, because he is sensitive and people didn’t notice it, he was a lefty and his teachers tried to make him use his right. It’s different from how she was with them, but she says a parent knows how to treat every child. Similar to Anil’s video talking about how his children keep surprising him, this isn’t the usual “perfect perfect” kind of parenting story, giving advice and formulas, it’s just saying that every child is a different person and there are no rules. I don’t know if this is because we have 3 siblings raised together to describe it, or if it is because this particular household is just more honest.
Karan then directs Rhea to tell stories about working with Kareena. It’s mostly the same kind of name-dropping anecdotes Karan likes, he knew in advance that Rhea could do a fun Kareena imitation, so he leads her in that direction. Rhea tells a fun story about how Kareena gets so excited about a song, and then fails to show up for rehearsals or anything, but manages to pull it off last minute after all. But I didn’t even notice until later, it is a female producer talking about a female star. How often does that happen? Instead of gossip about one of the top male stars, talking of them as someone we all know and are curious about, it is a woman. And not so coincidentally, a woman talking about a woman. If Rhea were a male producer, her stories of Kareena would sound less like gentle teasing and more like male chauvanism. It’s only through the eyes of other women that we are able to get the same clear idea of female stars as people that we can have for male stars as people.
Speaking of getting to know them as people, Karan has 4 female friends speak about Sonam and Rhea. I didn’t make notes of any specifics of their stories, nothing really jumped out to me. What was more interesting was the two truths that this friends ranged from within the past 5 years or so (Swara) all the way back to high school (a friend remembering seeing Gadar in theaters with Sonam back in 2001), and that all of them were friends of both Sonam and Rhea. It says something important when a woman can keep female friends for a long time and also keep acquiring friends. This is the impression I already had of Sonam, someone who is very loyal to her friends and at the same time always looking to make new ones. And it also says something that Sonam and Rhea share friends, that the sisters are that close.
And then there is Harsh. Karan kind of acknowledges that he didn’t have anyone to ask for a video for him, wonders if he has any friends. Harsh and Sonam and Rhea all confirm he does, his same friends since childhood, none of them involved in the film industry. They come over and hide in his room playing video games. My favorite part of this is when Sonam imitates them greeting her, complete with turning her face up. Like she is picturing scrubby little adolescent boys coming in and out of Harsh’s room. Which is probably how she sees them, Harsh and his little buddies, not as the grown men they are now.
Sonam starts, some generally fun answers, like saying “nobody’s my competition”. Karan gives her a hard question, what actor worked best with her and she asks Rhea what to answer. Rhea suggests Fawad, Sonam answers that but adds her own twist “Fawad, unfortunately Karan sent him back”. Ha! Not the last time there will be some gentle twitting of Karan. Again, I wonder if it is because the siblings are on together? Perhaps it makes them feel more like they are at a party ganging up on their silly friend, and less like they are on a talk show where their silly friend has the ability to cut them off.
The Fawad answer is Sonam’s snappiest, but not the last interesting one. Karan asks all three siblings what they do to make sure their social media is authentic, which is an interesting question. I wonder if he will start bringing it in for the rest of the season, or if it was just for the Kapoors? Because he knows they are so social media savvy and aware? Anyway, Sonam says she handles the social media herself which is what Harsh and Rhea end up saying as well. Speaking of, Sonam has a few more answers of the same kind of intelligent niceness that she displays on social media. She picks Sonakshi’s account on instagram as the one she likes checking the most, a nice continuation of mending fences after their little public feud. When asked about fashion faux pas, she declares that they don’t exist, everyone should wear whatever they want. The only answers that had a bit of bite to them were about actors, she said she had the most fun working with Salman of anyone, which is interesting, since he is generally considered difficult to work with (late to work and so on), but then also very kind especially to those he knows well (like Sonam, who he watched grow up).
But it is the other two answers that are really interesting, Karan asks which Khan she wants to work with next, and Sonam says practically “I don’t think either of them wants to work with me”. Which is probably true now that I think about it. Not that they hate her, just her kind of acting is not what works with their kind of acting and their kind of films. So, why even worry about the question? Oh, and then the other question, Karan asks between Ayushmann and Rajkummar (reminding her that she has worked with both) who would she pick as a better actor. She only hesitates briefly before picking Raj because “he is a friend”. Brave on two levels, first being willing to make a choice instead of the usual “they both have strengths” kind of thing. And second straight up acknowledging Raj is a friend and that is the reason for her choice, some extra confidence there that she is willing to admit to friendship as a purpose, and to claim Raj as a friend. The only person this season who has I believe, everyone else has said they “admire” him without seeming to know him.
Karan moves on to Rhea and slightly shifts the questions. An advantage to having a producer (or writer or singer or anything but an actor) on the show, he has to change up the questions. So he starts by asking what is the 2018 movie she wanted to produce, and she votes for Badhai Ho. Honest answer, of all the successes of the year, that is the one that best fits with Rhea’s brand. Karan asks her an interesting one, her feeling about doing an ad with a spouse. Is there some controversy I am unaware of around this topic? Anyway, Rhea’s response is practical, all that matters is if the price is right. Same kind of response about getting a tattoo of a significant other’s name, depends on if it is a nice name. And getting Botox and other face changes, sure, if you want. I’m not sure how Karan came up with this series of questions, maybe he just wanted to highlight all the ways the public thinks it can judge celebrities, knowing that Rhea would be blunt about it not being her business. I could see a different guest responding with something saccharine about the face God gave you being sacred or something.
Speaking of being honest, when Karan asks who needs a make over in the industry, Rhea immediately says Varun Dhawan and admits that she sends him DMs asking “where do you get these clothes?”. It’s not a careful diplomatic answer, there is no particular advantage to criticizing Varun, it feels like it is her honest answer. And she can be honest, because she is honest with him as well, she tells him directly that she doesn’t like his clothes, no talking behind backs. Speaking of, Rhea’s best comment, Karan asks her who she wants to cast next and Rhea responds that it depends on the script, Karan agrees and mentions that Raazi was so good it could have been a success with any actress, to which Rhea says “Yes, but it was made by Dharma, no?” meaning “but it was made by Dharma, so of course Alia got the lead role”. HA! And most people would have tiptoed around that, or not said it to Karan’s face. But it works better this way, better for everybody. Rhea shows she is smart and not a sycophant, and Karan shows that he really doesn’t care, because he just laughs it off. All those things we whisper and laugh about behind backs, we can just say to their faces, nothing bad will happen.
Oh, and one other very true comment, she says Harsh looks best without a shirt and Tiger with among the new batch. So true! Harsh’s normal healthy body looks much better than Tiger’s super perfect gym body.
And then there’s Harash. Who does fine, I guess. Again, very honest, meaning none of his answers have any kind of a spin I can find. The film he wanted in 2018, Andhadhun, which is also a film he turned down, so that’s a nice public acknowledgement of mistake. Fun little sibling byplay when Karan asks what he does to seduce a girl and Sonam leaps in to say “oh, gross!” (speaking for sisters everywhere), Harsh obediently doesn’t answer until Karan reminds Sonam that he didn’t ask her and tosses it back to Harsh. Another interesting little byplay, after Rhea had just criticized Varun’s style sense, Harsh gives him high praise as a performer. First as an actor, saying that his performance in October was Harsh’s favorite of the year. Not a standard answer at all, Varun isn’t usually considered an actor and October is hardly brought up as a successful film. And then he hits on the main point with Varun, that he has a great talent for predicting what the audience will want. Refreshingly outside the box and analytical thinking for such a young star.
Oh, the most interesting to me is when Karan asks who would play Leela to his Ram and he says “Suhana Khan”. It’s not just that, Karan to his Arjun is Tiger Shroff, and Ram to his Lakhan is Ranbir Kapoor, and Simran to his Raj is Ananya. All star kids. And all kids he grew up with. Suhana was a weird answer at the start, but put in context it makes more sense. She hasn’t started acting publicly yet, but Ananya hasn’t either. Harsh isn’t answering based on their public actions, but on his private interactions with them. Suhana and Ananya are his cousin’s best friend, he’s known them since they were a little girls, and he will pick them as a good co-star for him in a passionate tragic romance based on that.
The whole “we just don’t care” vibe continues through to after the rapid fire into the winner announcement. Sonam says with no effort to sell it “I’m so excited about this hamper”. And after Harsh is given the hamper, she says in the same way “I am so happy you won, Harsh”. Ha! Love it Sonam, don’t try to play up to the audience or Karan, Bhansali told you that you looked good from every angle after all.
There’s no time for a quiz, I didn’t even notice how much they were talking but the show must have run longer in that section than usual since there is no time for a game. Instead, Karan just jumps straight to the phone calls and says it can be anyone in the family. Harsh calls Arjun right away and he answers right away. Sonam calls her Mom, who also answers after a little bit. Harsh has gotten Khushi. Sonam gets Sanjay. Rhea is stuck trying for Maheep (Sanjay’s wife) but she never answers. Sonam tries Anil he never answers either, she even calls his assistant and tries to get him to hand the phone over but he doesn’t know where Anil is either. And finally, Harsh calls Sonu too and gets her and wins. Interesting sense of several dynamics, first that Rhea just doesn’t care that much. She can’t reach Maheep and then gives up and lets everyone else try while she watches. Sonu, their Mom, is the first thought followed by various cousins. And it’s nice and spread out among the family, Sanjay and Maheep in the older generation, but Khushi in the younger (and Sonam is trying for Janvhi at the end) and Arjun. The whole Kapoor family represented one way or another.
That’s what this episode felt like, the whole family as equals. Anil loves them all differently but equally. Rhea and Sonam and Harsh all have different careers and personas, but are comfortable with who they are. They are even equal in friendships, Sonam and Rhea have a tight bond with their friends and Harsh has his own group of friends. And so they can all be themselves and not care who wins Rapid Fire or anything else, because they are so confident within themselves. A tribute to their parenting. Which is what Karan talked about with Anil at the beginning, he always made Karan feel special