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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“My body instantly craves chai and samosa”

German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

It is no wonder then that German travellers in India find a quite a lot in common between the two cultures, even today. Some, especially those who’ve settled here, even confess to Indian culture growing on them with time. Isabelle, like most travellers, first came to India to explore the country’s rich heritage. She returned the following year as an exchange student, and a couple of years later found herself working for an Indian consultancy firm. When asked what prompted her to stay on, Isabelle said, “I love the market dynamics here, working here is so much fun. Anywhere else would seem boring compared to India.” Having cofounded a company, she eventually realised her entrepreneurial dream here and now resides in Goa with her husband.

Isabelle says there are several aspects of life in India that remind her of home. “How we interact with our everyday life is similar in both Germany and India. Separate house slippers to wear at home, the celebration of food and festivals, the importance of friendship…” She feels Germany and India share the same spirit especially in terms of festivities. “We love food and we love celebrating food. There is an entire countdown to Christmas. Every day there is some dinner or get-together,” much like how Indians excitedly countdown to Navratri or Diwali. Franziska, who was born in India to German parents, adds that both the countries exhibit the same kind of passion for their favourite sport. “In India, they support cricket like anything while in Germany it would be football.”

Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

Indeed, these Germans-who-never-left as just diehard Indophiles are more Indian than you’d guess at first, having even developed some classic Indian skills with time. Ilka assures us that her husband can’t bargain as well as she does, and that she can even drape a saree on her own.

Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

Like the long-settled German expats in India, the German airline, Lufthansa, too has incorporated some quintessential aspects of Indian culture in its service. Recognising the centuries-old cultural affinity between the two countries, Lufthansa now provides a rich experience of Indian hospitality to all flyers on board its flights to and from India. You can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalized by Lufthansa to the extent that they are More Indian Than You Think. To experience Lufthansa’s hospitality on your next trip abroad, click here.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.