Karan Thapar, or as his late loving wife called him, KT Baba!
You may love him or hate him. You may think of him as the Knight of Truth who wants to squeeze the last drop of veracity from his interviewees. Or you may choose to describe him as the King of Temper out to destroy the reputation of the best people through his aggressive interviews and columns.
But it is impossible to think of KT as the Kid of Trivia. For, despite of all his skills of wordplay, he is subtle. He displays clarity of mind which would be the envy of many an intellectual. It is this clarity, which breeds his enormous fluency and argumentative skills.
KT himself very well understands that being ignored would be far worse for him than being grilled just the way he grills others. He points this out in the very preface to his recently released book Sunday Sentiments (based on his columns in the Hindustan Times).
His popularity can be ascertained by the fact that he is in many places in the internet blogs. When a person becomes the object of discussion by bloggers, it is ample proof that his name has now become a household word. Bloggers are people well-known for their irreverence. While many of the bloggers do respect him, some others tend to think that he is too opinionated and aggressive and tries to thrust his point of view rather than letting his guests speak.
Interestingly, some of the adverse comments are available on www.ibnlive.com, the web site which carries the texts of his interviews.
But then, if he has definite opinions on things, it is ample proof of the clarity of his vision. Do we expect confused people to be opinionated?
There is no doubt that KT is a man of strong convictions. He is also one of the most humble and least pretentious of the present writers on the Indian scene.
Is there any interviewee who might escape being roasted by him? Why not, provided he is as honest and humble as he himself. For example, he is all praise for Fardeen Khan and Aishwarya Rai, people who approach KT's honesty and humility scales. Fardeen openly admitted that he was using banned drugs, and that the punishment he got was well-deserved. In turn, KT, in his book, has showered loads of praise on Fardeen.
He is also a master wordsmith who knows very well how to turn a mundane topic into a delightful piece of literary style. Witness the essay Are You Married in his book.
Many of his columns are in the form of arguments he has with a character appropriately named Pertie. KT tends to be on the side of political correctness whereas Pertie is the iconoclast. And predictably, in the end, he becomes answerless in front of Pertie.
He also knows how to let the steam off from an over-loaded pressure cooker. When, during the interview with Pervez Musharraf, the conversation became too acerbic, he made flattering remarks about the necktie Musharraf was wearing.
The general, being the cunning guy that he is, immediately grabbed hold of the opportunity. He took his tie off and presented it to KT.
The next time another interviewee faces him and wants to use the "Musharraf Trick" he would be wise to be wearing Hermes or Ferragamo ties, his favourite brands. It remains to be seen what the band-gala wallahs and ladies may have to offer to KT.
Such is the prestige of KT's interviews that personalities from politics, to acting, to sports readily agree when invited to be interviewed by what they perceive as the King of Tart.
You can think that KT has a born right to fry these people -- just like the cartoonists do. As long as human nature remains frail, society will very much need people like KT who can act as Knights Templar.
And as long as there is KT, his interviewees, before facing him, might continue to recite a slightly paraphrased well-known couplet:
Kal ko KT se saamna hoga, Kya pata uskay baad kya hoga.
Javed Husain can be contacted at Javed_Husain_Engineer@Yahoo.com .
All views and opinions presented in this article are solely those of the surfer and do not necessarily represent those of HindustanTimes.com.