Aamir Khan smoothly navigated the personal and the professional on Koffee with Karan, the celebrity talk show hosted by Karan Johar for the Star network. On Sunday, Khan made his third appearance on the show, which was first aired in 2004, and he had a platform all to himself – when Johar let him.
The anchor, who is as much of a celebrity as his guests, inserted himself into two rapid fire rounds. Khan’s fans would have preferred the movie star to have the arena to himself, but there was no escaping Johar’s insistence on indulging in some “TMI”, as he called it – too much information. (“What would you give up, shopping or gossip? Shopping. Are you dating anybody, Karan? Not at the moment.)
The 49-minute episode, which was aired on Star World and Hotstar, did manage to yield a few insights into Khan’s new movie, Thugs of Hindostan. The November 8 release has been directed by Vijay Krishna Acharya. The period drama traces a rebellion against British rulers in the eighteenth century and stars Khan alongside Amitabh Bachchan, Katrina Kaif and Fatima Sana Shaikh.
Khan said he was nervous about the Yash Raj Films production because it was an out-and-out entertainer, rather than a message movie like his recent releases. About his character, Firangi Mallah, Khan said, “He is a complete rogue who has no conscience.” Firangi is a character whom audiences will love to watch but would not want to be friends with because he is untrustworthy, Khan noted.
Khan is in a movie with Bachchan for the first time, and he described the experience as “daunting, intimidating, exciting”. Both Khan and Johar admitted to standing up in their seats when Bachchan’s baritone floated over the phone.
Among the confidences shared by Khan were about his personal equation with his first wife, Reena Dutta. The end of the 16-year relationship was “traumatic”, Khan said, but had not affected his “love and respect” for her. About the friendship between Dutta and his second wife, Kiran Rao, Khan said, “That equation has nothing to do with me.”
Will his children from his first marriage, Ira and Junaid, join the Hindi film industry too? Khan said Junaid wanted to act and direct films, and that he had chosen a “tough path”. Khan asserted that he would tell his son to his face if he could not act, and would not “actively do anything” to support him because it would “unfair for the film and the audience”.
Another segment was devoted to the MeToo movement. Aamir Khan contributed his bit to the efforts in the Hindi film industry to act upon allegations of sexual harassment and assault by announcing that he would not be working with director Subhash Kapoor on a proposed biopic of Gulshan Kumar, the founder of the music label T-Series. Kapoor is facing litigation on the charge of attempting to rape the actress Geetika Tyagi in 2012. Kapoor has been dropped from the biopic, which is being produced by Khan and T-Series.
“We can only answer for ourselves,” Khan pointed out. If he believed that there was reason to doubt a person even in the absence of a police complaint, he would not work with the accused, he said, adding, “If the person is innocent, I won’t be able to live with myself, and I carry that burden.”
The rest of the show was dedicated to the frivolity that is its trademark. Khan contributed his share of gossipy asides during a truth-or-dare game. He admitted that he had cheated in a relationship (no details were forthcoming), claimed that he never covered his love bites, and revealed that he frequently showered with his wife. Khan’s guilty pleasure was the game of poker, he said, and when he danced, it looked like he was trying to “swat a fly”. Enough was said to make the headlines, and enough was left unsaid for another episode on another season.