With superstar Salman Khan as Karan Johar’s first guest in Koffee with Karan two weeks ago, the interview spun around, among other things, an imaginary gunpoint-based gay encounter and the hinted ‘virginity’ of Khan, and made a grand little fuss around his bad boy image.
With superstar Salman Khan as Karan Johar’s first guest in Koffee with Karan two weeks ago, the interview spun around, among other things, an imaginary gunpoint-based gay encounter and the hinted ‘virginity’ of Khan, and made a grand little fuss around his bad boy image.

MINORITY REPORT | Out right (and wrong)

Bollywood celebrities trade with political correctness in public gaze; some get it right while others don't even know the difference

Last week, a strong tidal wave of minority trends washed up in India. Even as the results of the assembly polls in New Delhi brought in what Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) calls “the new politics of idealism", elsewhere, Hindi cinema’s celebrities thought little about twisting idealistic rules, some even of social decorum. In a polarized way, they evoked another kind of personal politics. Caustic remarks and schlocky one-liners are welcome because we are all tired of hypocritical celebs who turn sophists in every interview. They preen and sigh, they call success “difficult" and “unbelievable" (as if it is easy for a police hawaldar to rise up the ranks), defending their swords as well as their shields. Point of view is welcome as long as it manages to keep away from offensive territory.

But that’s where one of Shilpa Shetty’s comments on a UTV stars show called Breakfast to Dinner went. In a breezy mood on a breezy show, the former actor told the fawning anchor: “I look like a bhangi at home." The word bhangi, used for manual scavengers, is forbidden by law as it is discriminatory. Of course, that’s when you label someone else. Shetty’s weak defence could be that she was only using it for herself; but with current debates on the law against manual scavenging, it shows her disconnect with contemporary socio-political discourse while revealing what she thinks about this worker class. In all likelihood, Shetty “didn’t mean it" but with the very pulse of wrong and right becoming a nebulous territory in India, some celebs urgently need to tune in to the times.

That’s what film director and TV talk show host Karan Johar’s show Koffee with Karan seems to be doing in its fourth season. With superstar Salman Khan as Johar’s first guest two weeks ago, the interview spun around, among other things, an imaginary gunpoint-based gay encounter and the hinted “virginity" of Khan, and made a grand little fuss around his bad boy image. Khan, a first timer on the show, turned out to be smarter than many of Johar’s guests in the past. He used tactical, tongue-in-cheek humour to indulge in enjoyable repartee. “To make you happy, I will say Karan Johar…" he replied straight-faced when pressed to answer who he would have a gay encounter with, if forced to, at gunpoint. As Johar giggled, rather bashfully, Khan jumped again in his seat, adding “As long as I am the man…" A hot flush rose up KJo’s face, almost matching his maroon jacket. Khan, who was later joined by his level-headed father, Salim Khan, finally walked away, wearing a hunter’s delight on his face.

Well-hunted.

This question on a gunpoint brush with gays featured even on the episode with Kareena Kapoor Khan and Ranbir Kapoor. “I think I would be comfortable with my sister-in-law, so I will say Katrina Kaif…," said Kareena, trying to look unruffled, though the only thing she looked throughout the show was ruffled.

Like many others, I have found KJo’s talk show a bit overrated over the years, yet entertaining in parts. It gives me fodder for gossip with friends about Shah Rukh Khan’s self-consciously philosophic responses, Sonam Kapoor’s self-consciously styled personality and Ranveer Singh’s self-consciously worked-out body. So I find this “gay encounter" business revealing as well as significant. It may or may not reveal the private same-sex fascination of some stars, but that apart, it brings to the mainstream the mention of gay relationships. Only humorous conversations like these can slowly strip away the discomfiture people feel while hearing such thoughts being voiced.

Given this mature move, the Broadway-styled dance number in the show’s promo looks juvenile and silly. Johar dances awkwardly and looks unconvincingly gleeful. For someone with this kind of platform who has the kind of networking that Johar has to herd together unheard stories of celebs, the promo is a limp tamasha urging a rethink.

That’s also what Sanjay Dutt needs, given the recurrent liberties he is taking with the legal flexibilities allowed around his incarceration in Pune’s Yerwada jail. Dutt’s love-hate relationship with his fans, detractors, and the law may swing into yet another unwanted direction if he applies for parole to look after his unwell wife, who is then photographed partying.

A lot of people party and move around while in sickness and pain as self-defence against a bad phase. Even if that’s the case with Manyata Dutt, the couple needs to be more circumspect. Right now, Dutt is perceived as flouting the law, thus bringing us back to the same contention: legal restrictions are for the poor, the rich can have their way.

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