The Longest Coming-Out Party Ever


The Longest Coming-Out Party Ever

Illustration: Akshita Monga

When Karan Johar announced with his trademark flourish last Sunday that the iconic Koffee With Karan had completed 100 episodes, he did so while channelling his inner Dorothy in glittery red ruby slippers. Joining him in the walk down this yellow brick road, paved with anti-depressants and bitchery, were Salman Khan and Co, who fit the bill of the Cowardly Lion, Tin Woodman, and the Scarecrow, to a degree, which is in equal parts sad and hilarious. Salman Khan’s portrayal of the Cowardly Lion felt candid. Like the poor lion, Bhai also needs courage to admit that he’s done the rex with a few people (read, every woman, womanlike, womanish person in Bollywood). Tin Woodman (which is also a two-word synopsis of his entire acting history), Arbaaz Khan, just needs a heart post divorce, and poor Sohail Khan like the Scarecrow only needs a brain, so he could at least chime into the interview like he does on Bhai’s home productions. The men awkwardly arranged their collective muscle mass on KJo’s dainty couch and somewhere, the entire Wizard of Oz team, collectively gave up on humanity.

But I wasn’t hanging on for Dorothy’s red ruby slippers and Salman Khan’s reaffirmed virgin status as much as yet another reference to KJo’s sexuality, which I was betting my bottom dollar was coming. And it did! Salman lobbed the virgin ball back to KJo. “I’m a virgin and so are you,” he said, beginning a half-hearted enquiry into KJo’s sex life with that now-painfully familiar snigger that everyone on the couch has been coached into employing whenever they flirt with Karan and 377.

I don’t know about you, but this season has felt like the longest coming-out party to me, hosted by a man caught up in an eternal toss-up between wanting desperately to come out and dreading our judgment at the same time.

Let’s take this from the top, shall we? In Episode 1, we were made to sit through KJo and Shah Rukh talking about their “nude pictures” and “couple status”. In Episode 2, we were made to watch Twinkle Khanna’s most brave attempts to coax Karan out of the closet by asking him to come and fulfil his fantasies with her husband. Then came a cheeky jibe about going to jail for 377 days. Episode 3 had us subjected to an awkward-as-hell skit by Arjun Kapoor and Varun Dhawan as two gay men, which made Arjun state quite blankly that nobody could play a gay man with baggage better than the host of the show. The following Sunday presented us with the hashtag product placement of Arjun Kapoor, this time between Ranbir Kapoor and Ranveer Singh as the object of their desires. And then came Salman with the 740th reference to KJo’s sexuality in the sixth episode of this season, which has been a snooze fest sponsored by Valium.

Meanwhile, from inside the closet, Karan Johar thinks he’s started a conversation about homosexuality with his columns, shows, and lit fest shit fest.

Koffee With Karan, which is fast becoming the lead runner in the prize for “Circle Jerk of the Century” with the same guests answering the same questions, with the same expressions, has acquired a distinctly rainbow- coloured sheen this season. It seems to me that KJo has padlocked himself and created Koffee With Karan to cut a peephole into his own sexuality. (Pun intended, if there was a pun there. I’m not that good with homosexual jokes because this is not the ’50s and I’m not a Bollywood megastar). KJo has fielded these questions for years and now that they’ve stopped coming, he’s trying to get us to ask them again, so that he can go back to fielding them. It’s like a game of galli cricket after the mohallah ka jock takes the bat and stumps away, it’s basically the bulky guys asking you if you can play catch-catch with the ball that’s left behind. (To make a ball joke, to not make a ball joke? Again, I don’t know.) Meanwhile, from inside the closet, Karan Johar thinks he’s started a conversation about homosexuality with his columns, shows, and lit fest shit fest.

Yes, he’s made the keywords associated with homosexuality mainstream, but he’s never owned up to it. The idea is not to force him out of his comfort zone; the idea is to ask him to consider that his glib mockery and the crude jokes by his ilk trivialise the struggles of other people who do want to come out. If you cannot enable, you should not hinder. And if you think these sly innuendoes are helping, then the last part of my article goes out specifically to you.

KJo, sweetheart, maker of fantastic movies and manipulator of NRI nostalgia, please stop. We know you’re gay. We got all the subtle hints that you’ve been throwing at us by Frenching men at roasts and telling Neha Dhupia you’re not interested in her body parts. And guess what, it doesn’t matter to us. Your self-referential gaydom is as exhausting as the second half of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. Nobody will arrest you if you come out, people do not get arrested for that in our country anymore. For someone who made a meme out of a girl for not being well informed, you’re certainly being hypocritical. And that’s not the only thing you’re being hypocritical about. We love you and what you represent, but your sexuality isn’t what makes you fantastic. The fact that you can keep making the same movie with an alternatively dressed star cast and fam-friends every two years and still make millions, that’s what makes you fantastic. If you must own something, own that.

As far as your sexual proclivities go, the nation does not want to know, but if you’re going to insist on making our Sunday night your coming out party then for God’s sake come out already so that the show may race ahead on it’s path to acquire the “Circle Jerk of the Century” Award. Lest Vogue BFFs comes and snatches it away.