Despite the best intentions, live television interviews with big celebrities can often turn out to be frustrating affairs. So conscious are these stars of their publicity that they seldom venture any information that we, the public, don’t already know.
So conscious are the TV networks about landing big names for their shows and keeping them happy, that they allow their guests to vet the questions beforehand.
Any serious probing into the latest tabloid scandal is done half-heartedly – there’s no pressure to answer, and the star skilfully dodges the potential embarrass- ment with a wry joke, a nudge and a wink.
But maybe that’s just Hollywood. The Bollywood film industry may flaunt its wares to a more conservative audience, but it’s stars face the same pressures when it comes to keeping their private lives under wraps.
The media feeding off this spicy tinseltown are voracious, tearing into their stars for the slightest weight gain, fashion faux pas and merest hint of a juicy sex scandal.
And when it comes to the big celebrity interview, there are few shows that can touch Koffee With Karan. Now in it’s fourth season, this one-on-one celebrity chat is hosted by Bollywood super pro- ducer and director Karan Johar.
Karan’s standing in the film industry is perhaps his biggest weapon – since he knows most of Bollywood’s biggest names through working alongside them, he feels empowered to fire really hard-hitting questions at them.
It’s fascinating to watch these stars, adored by millions of cinemagoers, squirming in their seats as they try to compile the most diplomatic answers.
But more often than not, they answer with surprising honesty.
One example that immediately springs to mind was during Karan’s interview with Bollywood living legend Amitabh Bachchan and his son, budding film star, Abhishek.
When asked how he rated his son’s performances thus far, Mr B – as he is affectionately known by his legions of fans worldwide – conceded that he was not overly impressed.
It must have been a bitter pill for his son to swallow, but it made for fascinating viewing.
Earlier this year, Karan scored his biggest audience ever when he interviewed Salman Khan, the Bollywood bad boy who is perhaps the most loved of all the current leading men.
Khan had been avoiding the show, and admitted as much, claiming he was scared of what Karan would ask. His fears were not misplaced.
Karan seemed to have carte blanche on everything from his sex life to his run-ins with the law, and his feuds with fellow actors.
To his credit, Khan was an engaging guest, playing the fool (the 48-year-old heartthrob claimed he was a virgin, a line probably the whole of India laughed at), but he also answered candidly.
It must have been hot in that seat though – Khan could barely maintain the same position for more than five minutes.
Naturally, to fully appreciate the nature of this show, a passing knowledge of the Bollywood film pantheon helps.
You could merely appreciate this show for all the things that a Leno or Letterman interview isn’t, but because of Karan’s close relationships with most of these stars, names are dropped and films are referenced which could leave you drawing a blank.
• Koffee With Karan (Season 1) airs on GlowTV on OpenView HD at 7.30pm every Thursday, with a repeat at 8pm on Mondays.