Imagine Bollywood celebrities talking on the phone at 2am in their pyjamas. There will be gossip, stupid jokes, and, possibly, swearing. It’s a natural conversation with friends that is seen on television or heard on the radio. But what if a podcast lets you listen in on unfiltered talks? That is the promise made by #NoFilterNeha, co-produced by actress Neha Dhupia with Saavn, the music streaming service.
The show features 12 celebrities, including Yuvraj Singh, Vishal Dadlani and Chetan Bhagat. The first guest is Karan Johar, known for his own popular talk show Koffee with Karan. If Johar is witty with his words, Dhupia is clever with the way she puts across the questions. She gets the filmmaker to share stories that many have not heard before. Who knew he had lost his virginity at the age of 26? Johar goes on to admit how he got fooled into thinking that Margaret Thatcher, the British prime minister, had once gone through a sex change operation. With a bunch of unapologetic, tongue-in-cheek jokes, the first episode might make the listener feel like a curious eavesdropper.
“And this is the unique selling point”, explained Dhupia at a launch event. As the reach of the internet spreads, Saavn claims to have 18 million monthly users who are willing to stream songs and podcasts audio on their mobile devices. Apart from offering a variety of music, Saavn has introduced original podcasts on sports, entertainment, current affairs. Cricket Wallah Chronicles, for instance, is a weekly podcast on state of affairs of cricket hosted by sports writer Ayaz Memon. Trial by Error: The Aarushi Files is a crime series based on the AarushiTalwar case by Nishita Jha and Avirook Sen.
Dhupia cites The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Cyrus Says as her inspiration for her talk show. Each episode is around 40 minutes and will be aired once a week. Dhupia and Saavn take pride in stating that the guests, while being free with their revelations, have not asked for any edits or cuts. “We did not question anyone on their personal lives or discuss their professional lives”, Dhupia said. “We just discussed what no one has ever heard of these people, and you will hear them in that unfiltered light.”
Some of these unheard stories include Kangana Ranaut’s obsession with her pet dog and sibling fights between Sonam and Harshvardhan Kapoor. Is the show entertaining enough to view the personalities in a different light? Probably. Are they new enough for us to learn who the celebrities actually are? Definitely not.