Bollywood stars have been trying their luck at podcasts for a while now. Neha Dhupia was the first to jump onto the bandwagon. Titled #NoFilterNeha, her show premiered in 2016 on Saavn. The success of the show spawned another season last year and a third one is currently under production.
Dhupia engages her guests in freewheeling conversations, the tone of which is strictly casual. Sania Mirza was a guest in the second season. Keeping in tune with the mood of the show, Dhupia did not mention the controversy that arose over her marriage to Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik. Dhupia cited incidents from Mirza’s past and the tennis player clarified them. The conversation also veered towards romance, acquiring the aura of a Karan Johar show. However, the casual tone took the backseat when she interviewed Rishi Kapoor. After introducing him, the first question was regarding the changes in the movie-making process. Kapoor spoke at length about being asked by new directors to emote the same scene multiple times so that they could capture it from different angles. Dhupia also asked questions that required Kapoor to reminisce about his past. Among other things, he narrated the story of Manmohan Desai offering him ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’ ‘over a trunk call’ and how he came to buy his house. Kapoor then spoke about his father and son and the nature of his relationships with them. After a point, Kapoor could not keep his sarcasm under check; he spoke of how actors followed a dress code for funerals. And then, somberly mentioned how very few of them turned up for Vinod Khanna’s funeral.
Karan Johar’s tries his hand at radio with ‘Calling Karan’ – a chat show where he tried to be the ‘bff’ of callers by listening to their problems and giving advice. As claimed by Johar, the show centered strictly around love and relationships. In the first episode titled ‘My First Time’, Johar, in between calls, spoke about the first time he experienced love. Most of the information here is already known to listeners through his previous shows if not through his memoir. However, Johar’s voice modulation is on a par with that of a professional RJ. Like a friend, he listens to the caller; asks questions and goes on to give suggestions. The shows airs on 104.8 FM.
Shilpa Shetty and Kareena Kapoor are the latest Bollywood stars to jump on to the radio bandwagon. Shilpa Shetty’s show will see her narrating the Mahabharata; she plays Draupadi. Kareena Kapoor’s show, which will air from December on 104.8FM, will see her attend calls and answer people’s questions. Shruti Haasan too will have a radio show soon.
Kalki Koechlin is the latest actor to have featured in a podcast. Titled ‘My Indian Life’ and produced by BBC India, hers is easily the most interesting show. In Koechlin’s words, the show is about what it means to be young and Indian in the 21st Century. And Koechlin does this by picking an individual as subject and telling his/her stories.
The first episode is about Ishaan – a male belly dancer. The reason for Ishaan’s story being told through the show is because it is both personal and social. While he has had to battle his own family to pursue his dream, the larger battle has been against society that looks at him with prejudice for not fitting into the norm of a ‘man’.
In the episode featuring him, he admitted that he is from a ‘conservative Indian family.’ Ishan’s mother got married at the age of 14 and his father used to beat him for wanting to become a belly dancer. Despite that, his father is warm to Koechlin who has come home to talk about his son. “He might have admirers drawn to his dancing. But, for me, he is a self-centred person and the respect of society comes first,” the father said. He justifies his actions and maintains that he did what he had to do as a father. While Ishan considers his mother a friend, he hasn’t spoken to his father in a year, and refuses to accompany Kalki on her visit.
The best part about the show is that it is steeped in reality. At its core, Ishaan’s story is that of a man who is incredibly passionate about his job; so much so that he refuses to talk about his sexuality. If he does, he thinks it’ll take precedence over his passion.
Ultimately, the show is about hope. And, that’s exactly what Ishaan, who grew up through adversarial circumstances to follow his dream, tells us through his story.