tv show

Chat show ‘Vogue BFFs’ falters as it tries to showcase celebrity friendships

There is not a lot on offer for those who are hoping to learn new things about their favourite stars.

The public relations pitch of Vogue BFFs, the chat show on the Colors Infinity channel, promises “intimate moments and secrets of your favorite stars with their favorite people”. The view from the sidelines looks inviting: celebrities show up with their best friends, professional collaborators and family members, and share confidences.

A closer look, however, reveals a half-baked attempt at unmasking celebrity lives. The show is hosted by Indo-Canadian model and actress Kamal Sidhu on a set that resembles a loft and is replete with extravagant knick-knacks and yellow lights. Then it is time for the celebrity to knock on the door and be bombarded by rapid-fire questions. The second guest comes in a little later, so to bide time, Sidhu asks question after question as the celebrity walks around the set, taking in the view.

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Kajol and Mickey Contractor on ‘Vogue BFFs’.

Friendship is loosely defined on the show. The pilot episode featured Deepika Padukone with her stylist and, surprise, surprise, show sponsor Vogue magazine’s fashion director, Anaita Shroff Adajania. (Details on Padukone’s look from the episode were later posted on the Vogue site.)

The episode on Kajol was with one of her oldest friends, makeup artist Mickey Contractor. Arjun Kapoor was accompanied by his uncle, Anil Kapoor. Another episode included Kareena Kapoor and designer Manish Malhotra. (Sample: “My husband always tells me, ‘I don’t like size zero,’ he likes the more curvy, rounded kind of women, the typical Indian, Kamasutra-ish kind of woman.”)

The setup feels rather jumbled, as the charming Sidhu makes earnest attempts to establish a deep conversation while including random games to test the friendship and questions posed by fans. There is sometimes a lot happening, and the show barely scratches the surface in its attempt to cover too much ground in a short period.

Some elements feel staged. Kajol expresses her desire to see Contractor and hopes that he is the guest who has been invited with her. There are revelations about the actress that will not be new to hardcore Kajol followers. It was Contractor who played a pivotal role in retaining Kajol’s signature unibrow look at the beginning of her career. Audiences are also told about what the actress has been up to lately and her decision to get married in her early twenties. However, we never hear much about Contractor, and he is asked absurd questions, including “How much does he charge for bridal makeup?”

The answer: “Priceless.”

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Arjun and Anil Kapoor on ‘Vogue BFFs’.

The two Kapoors, on the other hand, have a little fun with each other. Arjun discusses how his uncle is always the centre of attention. There is no room for genuine insights or difficult conversations on say, Arjun’s big shift to the movies. He does talk about the one pet peeve that so many people have with star kids’ privileges, and explains that many of them wither away over the years.

Compared to other talk shows that have been popular, such as Rendezvous with Simi Garewal or Koffee with Karan, Vogue BFFs fails to leave its mark. One reason might be that Johar knows his guests a lot better than Sidhu. There aren’t enough memorable anecdotes or insights into the lives of the celebrities, and rushed segments such as the one tracing their fashion evolution do not help.

Kareena Kapoor and Manish Malhotra.
Kareena Kapoor and Manish Malhotra.
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As India turns 70, London School of Economics asks some provocative questions

Is India ready to become a global superpower?

Meaningful changes have always been driven by the right, but inconvenient questions. As India completes 70 years of its sovereign journey, we could do two things – celebrate, pay our token tributes and move on, or take the time to reflect and assess if our course needs correction. The ‘India @ 70: LSE India Summit’, the annual flagship summit of the LSE (London School of Economics) South Asia Centre, is posing some fundamental but complex questions that define our future direction as a nation. Through an honest debate – built on new research, applied knowledge and ground realities – with an eclectic mix of thought leaders and industry stalwarts, this summit hopes to create a thought-provoking discourse.

From how relevant (or irrelevant) is our constitutional framework, to how we can beat the global one-upmanship games, from how sincere are business houses in their social responsibility endeavours to why water is so crucial to our very existence as a strong nation, these are some crucial questions that the event will throw up and face head-on, even as it commemorates the 70th anniversary of India’s independence.

Is it time to re-look at constitution and citizenship in India?

The Constitution of India is fundamental to the country’s identity as a democratic power. But notwithstanding its historical authority, is it perhaps time to examine its relevance? The Constitution was drafted at a time when independent India was still a young entity. So granting overwhelming powers to the government may have helped during the early years. But in the current times, they may prove to be more discriminatory than egalitarian. Our constitution borrowed laws from other countries and continues to retain them, while the origin countries have updated them since then. So, do we need a complete overhaul of the constitution? An expert panel led by Dr Mukulika Banerjee of LSE, including political and economic commentator S Gurumurthy, Madhav Khosla of Columbia University, Niraja Gopal Jayal of JNU, Chintan Chandrachud the author of the book Balanced Constitutionalism and sociologist, legal researcher and Director of Council for Social Development Kalpana Kannabiran will seek answers to this.

Is CSR simply forced philanthropy?

While India pioneered the mandatory minimum CSR spend, has it succeeded in driving impact? Corporate social responsibility has many dynamics at play. Are CSR initiatives mere tokenism for compliance? Despite government guidelines and directives, are CSR activities well-thought out initiatives, which are monitored and measured for impact? The CSR stipulations have also spawned the proliferation of ambiguous NGOs. The session, ‘Does forced philanthropy work – CSR in India?” will raise these questions of intent, ethics and integrity. It will be moderated by Professor Harry Barkema and have industry veterans such as Mukund Rajan (Chairman, Tata Council for Community Initiatives), Onkar S Kanwar (Chairman and CEO, Apollo Tyres), Anu Aga (former Chairman, Thermax) and Rahul Bajaj (Chairman, Bajaj Group) on the panel.

Can India punch above its weight to be considered on par with other super-powers?

At 70, can India mobilize its strengths and galvanize into the role of a serious power player on the global stage? The question is related to the whole new perception of India as a dominant power in South Asia rather than as a Third World country, enabled by our foreign policies, defense strategies and a buoyant economy. The country’s status abroad is key in its emergence as a heavyweight but the foreign service officers’ cadre no longer draws top talent. Is India equipped right for its aspirations? The ‘India Abroad: From Third World to Regional Power’ panel will explore India’s foreign policy with Ashley Tellis, Meera Shankar (Former Foreign Secretary), Kanwal Sibal (Former Foreign Secretary), Jayant Prasad and Rakesh Sood.

Are we under-estimating how critical water is in India’s race ahead?

At no other time has water as a natural resource assumed such a big significance. Studies estimate that by 2025 the country will become ‘water–stressed’. While water has been the bone of contention between states and controlling access to water, a source for political power, has water security received the due attention in economic policies and development plans? Relevant to the central issue of water security is also the issue of ‘virtual water’. Virtual water corresponds to the water content (used) in goods and services, bulk of which is in food grains. Through food grain exports, India is a large virtual net exporter of water. In 2014-15, just through export of rice, India exported 10 trillion litres of virtual water. With India’s water security looking grim, are we making the right economic choices? Acclaimed author and academic from the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi, Amita Bavisar will moderate the session ‘Does India need virtual water?’

Delve into this rich confluence of ideas and more at the ‘India @ 70: LSE India Summit’, presented by Apollo Tyres in association with the British Council and organized by Teamworks Arts during March 29-31, 2017 at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. To catch ‘India @ 70’ live online, register here.

At the venue, you could also visit the Partition Museum. Dedicated to the memory of one of the most conflict-ridden chapters in our country’s history, the museum will exhibit a unique archive of rare photographs, letters, press reports and audio recordings from The Partition Museum, Amritsar.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Teamwork Arts and not by the Scroll editorial team.