What do you get when you mix male chauvinism, entitlement, cultural appropriation and desperation for TRPs? Hardik Pandya parked on the Koffee With Karan couch. On the 6th of Jan, we had the misfortune of watching cricketers Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul as guests on Karan Johar’s now infamous show. What followed was a statutory warning for why children should stay in school and not brag about consistently failing every class through their school years.
Hardik Pandya vomited a barrage of crass misogyny, cultural appropriation and racism. Beginning with how he is ‘inspired’ by West Indies culture – although I do not ever recall him drawing attention to the centuries-old practice of racism. He attributes his bling-obsessed diva behaviour as a homage to black people but has nothing to say about police brutality, the civil rights movement, apartheid, etc. Hardik Pandya cannot represent or stereotype black men – simply because he isn’t black. Nor is he allowed to demean and use black men as an excuse to avoid accountability.
It gets worse. He then launched off on this ridiculously sexist tangent of not bothering to learn the names of women he claimed to be interested in, watching how they “move” because he claims to be “a little on the black side”, normalised stalking women on social media, bragging about spanking his teammates and that women’s consent doesn’t matter. Special mention to his uber-cool family and him having bonding moments in social gatherings that comprise him pointing out women he has been involved with – where he refers to them as trophies.
Here, feast your eyes:
A thread on all the creepy, misogynist, racist, and problematic things Hardik Pandya said on Koffee With Karan:
1) KJo: Why don’t you ask women’s names at nightclubs?
HP: I like to watch and observe how they move. I’m little from the Black side so I need to see how they move.
— Sreeparna Mazumder (@Sreeep) January 6, 2019
KL Rahul presented a more restrained appearance and acknowledged consent. That being said, he is not exempt. If he was such a good friend to Hardik Pandya, he should have hauled up his friend and held him accountable for his misogyny. He should demand higher standards from his friends. The era of the ‘Bare Minimum Awards’ for men is going out the door. With KL Rahul being lauded as an ideal ‘wingman’ – it makes one wonder just how much of this male entitlement Rahul has been complicit in.
Personally, am relieved that there was a massive reaction against the sexism and racism on the show, and not just their calling Virat Kohli a better batsman than Sachin Tendulkar. Hardik Pandya issued an apology shortly before he and KL Rahul were served a show cause notice from BCCI. The Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) is currently contemplating a two ODI ban as punishment meted to Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul. Though it’s laughable that BCCI CEO Rahul Johri, with his own history of sexual harassment and exploitation, signed off on this show cause notice.
Hardik Pandya cannot represent or stereotype black men – simply because he isn’t black.
Now, for the other man of this disgraceful match – Karan Johar. Johar is a standing testament to the fact that TRPs have no conscience and basic ethics, and that bigotry sells. He gloated and giggled throughout Pandya’s verbal misogynist diarrhoea, apparently delighted at the massive viewership and attention he would soon acquire. He used his show to venture into a discussion about #MeToo in an episode with Aamir Khan as the guest, where he lauded Aamir Khan as the person who got the “ball rolling” on the #MeToo movement in India. By that logic, Raya Sarkar and Tanushree Dutta are figments of collective imagination.
Even outside of his show, Karan Johar has had a lot to say about the #MeToo movement – yet his ‘conscience’ suddenly gets abandoned when it comes to his own personal gain. Koffee With Karan has had its own history of misogyny with its repeated objectifying of women and ranking actresses based on sex appeal – in a desperate bid to appear progressive, he has recently started a similar ranking for actors as well. But it’s not progressive to consistently sink your claws into people’s personal and sex lives and just hope that they divulge something that causes a sensation. Did it never occur to him that survivors of sexual harassment and sexual abuse would be watching his show?
The era of the ‘Bare Minimum Awards’ for men is going out the door.
Koffee With Karan strives to package and sell locker room talk to its viewers. Unfortunately, this form of male bonding that demeans women and reduces them to trophy collections is encouraged in closed rooms – has an unhealthy curiosity about it. When divulged, it is gleefully laughed at and encouraged. Basically, locker room behaviour makes a lot of money. When addressed, it is dismissed in the same trope of ‘boys will be boys’. Why such low behavioural standards for men? When taken to a public platform, it only fuels a defeatist attitude towards the end of misogyny.
Irrespective of how money and attention hungry one is – the fact of the matter remains that with the socio-economic status of celebrities carries with it an obligation to be responsible. To put it simply: people are watching you and observing your every move. Along with the fiasco that was this Koffee With Karan show, there is no way to justify statements such as Rani Mukerji’s victim-blaming comments in an interview. This Yash Raj and Dharma brand of celebrity need to check themselves. With that pedestal of privilege that they occupy, there are duties as well. Learn to do better.
Featured image used for representational purpose only. Image source: DNA India