Karan Johar is the original Sima Aunty, playing the eternal matchmaker since he broke out with the KWK show. Many have graced his couch, dated, and then either broken up or got married.
He’s given a Rhonda Byrne like “The Secret” twist to his horny couch, claiming it has the power of manifestation. All one needs to do is lay his or her pretty bum on it and utter any name to watch the magic unfurl.
Well, his latest target is the actor of his next movie, Liger, Vijay Deverakonda.
I cringed when I saw the trailer of this episode: a highly uncomfortable Devarakonda. He was surrounded by the over-caffeinated duo, KJo-Ananya Pandey with the most ludicrous banal questions on well, sex.
But, I laid all my fears to rest after watching the complete episode.
Vijay Devarakonda: A Boring Or Classy Debut?
For starters, it was a class act by Vijay Deverakonda on the show. A stark contrast to the previous male guest on the show, Akshay Kumar and his overly flirtatious ways with his co-guest, Samantha Ruth Prabhu. Even with women falling and fighting over him, and KJo digging him with crass questions, Devarakonda handled himself with such grace, dignity, and maturity.
Certain sections of the audience found Devarakonda ‘boring’ in the show. But for me, I found his calm presence the much-needed balancing factor in this show, which has an outlandish format.
We know South Indian artists for their simplicity and reservedness. But when you compare Devarakonda to his Southern counterparts like Mahesh Babu, Sai Pallavi, Fahadh Faasil, Keerthy Suresh, Tovino Thomas, Nimisha Sajayan, he is flamboyant. His real-life persona is definitely not Ranveer Singh level flamboyant, though his on-screen persona is a different story altogether.
Overall, I liked Devarakonda’s calm demeanour and philosophical outlook, which is a stark contrast to his hot-blooded, on-screen image. I found the dichotomy interesting.
But Devarakonda was quietly hilarious, and that explains why he won the rapid fire round hands down by audience votes. It might come across as mean, but I laughed out loud when he had flattering adjectives to describe other female actors but called an eager Ananya Pandey, “juvenile”. Another nonchalant badass response was for KJo’s question about Ranbir and Alia’s infinity connection. Devarakonda spoke for most of us when he asked with a straight face, “How am I supposed to know that?”
Vijay displayed a delicate balance as his masculine exterior juxtaposed with his feminine energies. There was an unmissable nurturing side to him that peeped in this episode as he played the perfect gentleman opposite an exuberant Ananya Pandey.
KJo’s ‘Naughty’ Side: Is It All Harmless Fun?
KJo was up to his usual naughty act, asking the most intrusive questions like “When did you last have sex?” Kudos to Devarakonda for holding onto his sanity and keeping his cool.
But these inane jokes on sex lives were relatively less harmful compared to KJo’s earlier dangerous questions that he routinely asked the participants in the earlier seasons. One such perverse question was:
“At gunpoint, who would you have sex with (list of options)?”
Why should anyone want to have sex at gunpoint, even hypothetically? And is this supposed to be like the rape jokes by the supposedly cool kids in schools and colleges? And some well into their adulthood? What is cool or funny about non-consensual sex?
Like most filmmakers in the movie industry, Karan Johar is notorious for his misogynistic movies. Whether it is Rahul falling in love with Anjali after she becomes ladylike in “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai”, or his creative decision to kill the character of Alizeh because she chose not to love Ayan back. This dark undertone appears in his talk show as well.
I hope better sense has prevailed KJo. And his brand of perverse fun, such as nonconsensual sex at gunpoint and the likes, never returns on the show.
Here Comes The Controversy
Coming to the most controversial part of the show, which is the actors’ take on Arjun Reddy.
Predictably, Vijay Deverakonda stood by his decision to play the toxic male protagonist. He justified his choice by saying that he empathized with the character. Devarakonda added that he understands those who were in abusive relationships being triggered by the movie and their criticism.
I didn’t expect Devarakonda to talk against his decision to play Arjun Reddy. Be it out of allegiance to his director, Sandeep Vangala, or out of his personal conviction to play the character. But I felt he left things hanging in balance. Fair enough that he empathized with the character of Arjun Reddy. But why did he empathize with him? Neither did he elaborate on the reasons, nor did Karan Johar question him further.
Ananya Pandey spoke for women like me saying though she loved Kabir Singh songs, she didn’t like the male protagonist. I had said the same thing: that men like Arjun Reddy or Kabir Singh were not my cup of tea. And signing up for marriage with men like them could mean asking for potential trouble. But there’s no denying that there are women who do fall for such men in real life. Either out of plain ignorance, low self-esteem, or perhaps even pure love.
I understand actors choose roles for various reasons. It could be to experiment with characters that are out of line with their personalities. Like how authors toy with characters that are completely out of sync with their core selves. It could be because they smell potential success. It could be purely for the money. And it could also be because that’s the only offer that came their way.
Also, it’d be foolish to judge actors for the characters they portray on screen. Say, to assume, Vijay Deverakonda or Shahid Kapoor would be Arjun Reddy or Kabir Singh in real life. Or jump to the conclusion that Akshay Kumar is a true Indian, based on his patriotic roles. Taapsee Pannu acted in a movie like “Haseen Dilruba” which goes against her progressive image.
As a writer, I understand the need for experimentation and liberties. So, it’ll be interesting to see if KJo has a similar conversation on creative liberties with Alia Bhatt. And how much is too much? Especially with her first production, “Darlings”, a dark comedy on a similar controversial theme of “domestic violence”.
Bridging The Gap Between The North And South?
Yes, there were the mandatory hot takes on nepotism and celebrities’ sex lives.
A louder “Yes” to the fact that Devarakonda was all chalk amid a chock-a-block of cheese.
This episode might not have gone the way KJo would have ideally liked it to go. But Deverakonda’s stoic resistance actually worked in the show’s favour lending it some grace.
KJo is a business savvy producer. For him to bank his money on the South Indian actor is not without reason. While he baited Deverakonda, a la, full cheese platter to a needy mouse, the latter didn’t bite the bait. Not as yet!
On the professional front, I hope KJo doesn’t caricature him. Like he does with the South Indian characters in his movies. And oh, someone please tell Mr. Johar that it’s “Oo Antava Mawa” not “Oo Anta Wah Wah”.