Spirited celeb gabfest

Telly review

It looks like the tables have turned for the hot seat on the ‘Great Indian Chat Show’ and how!

Well, going by the inaugural episode of the celeb talk show Look Who’s Talking, hosted by noted dialogue writer and lyricist Niranjan Iyengar, that certainly seems to be the case.

In a prime time space that tosses up desi or globally cloned chat shows at the drop of a hat, or rather, at the drop of a chat, to get another talk show running is bound to evoke a bored yawn. And if the show is not hosted by a famous face from the league of legends, a la Oprah Winfrey or nearer home Simi Garewal or Karan Johar (K Jo), but by someone who’s more a backroom boy, then the bored yawn gets accompanied by a pronounced shooting up of the eyebrow with, “Who Niranjan?”

This is also the question that arises: How is this show different from the clutter of chat shows already doing the rounds on the channels? And, do we really need another kid on an already choc-a-bloc chat show bloc? Going by the opening night and maiden delivery of the man who has the bearings of a boy next door and none of the airs and flairs of a celebrity host, the misgivings begin to recede. Further into a few episodes of seeing how Niranjan tackles this template, he evokes an ease that gives a feel that you’ve bumped into him at a café and he’s just carrying on a regular coffee conversation.

Refreshingly, in a chat show space dominated by biggies — Comedy Nights... hosted by the current czar of comedy and chat shows, Kapil Sharma, or The Anupam Kher Show, presented by the noted actor, or K Jo’s recently wrapped up Koffee with Karan — Niranjan’s show subtly makes its presence felt without a big name to boast of as a host.Though it comes riding on low expectations and a small name, Niranjan’s show is slowly but surely getting noticed, quite like a low-ticket I-Ball Slide tablet arriving in a market dominated by biggies like Apple’s iPad Air or Samsung Galaxy Note, and carving its niche.

The one thing that can make a new show stand out is its format that doesn’t seem like a clever clone of global templates. So, instead of being hosted out of a studio, à la Koffee with Karan & Co, Niranjan’s show positions itself in a new restaurant for each episode, in which the host and celebrity are seen sipping wine instead of a customary coffee. There’s also a live atmosphere instead of a neon-loud studio setting.

Coming to the more important content. Well, this show’s inaugural episode speaks volumes for what makes it different. Having Karan Johar as the first guest was enough to turn the tables. What is more refreshing than to land the chat-show czar with his cocky smile, who has been grilling glitterati week after week, in the hot seat!

So, kudos to Niranjan for putting K Jo there and laying bare his vulnerabilities by eliciting confessions: “The only thing that gets me, that worries me, is dying alone, aging alone... That’s my biggest fear in life: loneliness.” Well, some credit to K Jo, too, for having the courage to take potshots at himself instead of squirming in the hot seat, and spouting quotes aplenty: “I’m not a prostitute. I can’t be walking around paying people for love and sex”; “Heartbreak is the one emotion I have mastered.”

On the flip side though, the show has a guest list that makes it a face in the crowd, same old faces have been paraded on other chat shows: Alia Bhatt, Parineeti Chopra, Arjun Kapoor, Vidya Balan et al.

But if the celebrity cast fails to offer new names, the format makes up in more ways than one. Since the show is sponsored by OLX, among others, there’s a segment wherein the celebrity offers a belonging for sale on it. So, a coffee quiz or rapid-fire round is passé. Auctioning K Jo’s Armani jacket or actor Sidharth Malhotra’s Vans shoes is the hottest “happening” stuff on the ‘Great Indian Chat Show’. There comes the new mantra: drive the celebrity chat at the drop of a hat. 

Look Who’s Talking airs on Zee Café, on Sundays at 9 pm.

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