The latest episode of the celebrity chat show Koffee With Karan, featuring Kriti Sanon and Tiger Shroff, is currently being dissected on social media, and as usual, it is not for the reasons you may have thought. It’s not because of Shroff’s revelation on being single or Sanon’s dating choices but of host Karan Johar’s constant championing of actor Alia Bhatt.
Johar’s prodigy Alia Bhatt, whom he launched back in 2012 with Student Of The Year (a film Sanon confessed to auditioning for as well), has crystallised herself as a successful actor with several releases like Highway (2014), 2 States (2014), Udta Punjab (2016), Kapoor & Sons (2016) and the recent Darlings. But the way the filmmaker/talk show host hypes Bhatt, especially in front of her contemporaries, feels a bit over the top, even for Johar.
Karan Johar Praises Alia Bhat Too Often, Too Loudly
This week, Sanon won a Filmfare Award for Mimi, her second Best Actress honour after IIFA earlier this year. Her performance as a surrogate mother proved her mettle as a performer and won high praises from the critics as well. The actor has a slew of upcoming releases such as Bhediya (Varun Dhawan) Adipurush (Prabhas), Ganpath (Tiger Shroff), Shehzada (Kartik Aaryan), and an Anurag Kashyap thriller.
However, it seems like the success of Mimi is yet to pay rich dividends for Sanon as far as her and Johar’s perception is considered. Sanon underlined the point, every time Johar asked her about jealousy and competition with her contemporaries, that she would love to get the same kind of opportunities as an Alia Bhatt.
It was painful to watch Johar pester her with questions like, “There’s so much chatter about Alia Bhatt being the best actor in the country. Is there an acceptance at your level or is it also driving you to kind of get there yourself?”
Sanon, however, did not beat around the bush and answered back with utmost class, “I feel of course it drives me. It aspires me to do better. When I see great work.” At this point, Johar interrupted and said, “Like Gangubai“, following which Sanon added, “yeah, and see you also feel that you know, I would love to have an opportunity like that and I would love to have something because I feel like Mimi as an opportunity when it came to me, it gave me that confidence to put in so much into that film.”
Twitter is obviously miffed at Johar belittling Sanon’s work and constantly reiterating Bhatt ‘being the biggest star’ of Hindi cinema. “Karan Johar shoving down Alia everyone’s throat as stupendously fantastic actor of this universe which is pathetic really. She is pretty average actor with successful scripts. In Darlings, she was no where near Shefali Shah,” said one Twitter user. Another opined that Johar needs to watch more films and not just the ones featuring Alia before forming an opinion.
It’s a veiled but not a malicious comment on Johar’s championing and the Dharma ecosystem’s positioning of Bhatt. She will be next seen in their big-ticket release Brahmastra. She is also starring in Johar’s directorial Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani, alongside Ranveer Singh. On the other hand, we can’t really blame Johar for he has often publicly commented on his affection for Bhatt. He once said she was “the first person about whom (he) felt parental” even before his twins, Yash and Roohi, were born. In one of the interactions with RJ Siddharth Kannan, the producer said, “Alia and I just make each other cry. I see a lot of hate for the relationship that both of us share. I don’t know why people get so annoyed. I am allowed to love somebody from my heart.”
But does this mean the director must bring up her success in every conversation that he has with her contemporaries? Why can’t he celebrate these women as well?
Karan Johar praises Alia Bhatt: Why do we pit women against women?
A debate on healthy competition aside, why is it so normalised to compare women’s accomplishments? Both actors in their own right have achieved fair share of accolades and managed to carve a space for themselves, so it is disheartening to see Bhatt’s success being used to disrespect other female actors.
We need to reinforce every woman’s achievements, give them equal credits for their contributions, accomplishments and more importantly publicly praise each and all — even in formal settings and on famous couches.