After a year fraught with MeToo stories, Koffee With Karan’s latest episode with cricketers Hardik Pandya and K.L. Rahul brought us right back to square one. The pretending-to-be-woke Karan Johar giggled throughout the episode as the two “brat-pack” cricketers used women as punchlines, treating them as trophies to be won rather than actual human beings.
After an initial chat about how Pandya is a “diva” who likes to emulate “West Indian and Black culture,” the conversation digressed to relationships, women and everything in between. When asked about women in clubs, Pandya said, “I like to watch and observe how they (women) move. I’m little from the black side so I need to see how they move.” So, according to him West Indians or ‘blacks’ are mainly creepy voyeurists.
— Aditya Date (@adityadate27) January 7, 2019
According to Pandya, there is a distinction between seeing, dating and being in a relationship. He doesn’t believe in remembering a woman’s name “when there is so much to talk man” and it is normal to stalk women online. For him, a woman only belongs to a man who manages to win her over because as he puts it: “Jo jeeta wahi sikander”.
This flashy coffee table discussion from the very flashy #HardikPandya could’ve been best avoided on TV ! Idiot ??
— Rachel White (@whitespeaking) January 7, 2019
He didn’t stop there and boasted about his active sexual life revealing how his parents were “cool” about it. The open discussion on sex is great but not when it is just a means to objectify women – something which Pandya did. When his family asked him about his “scene” referring to women at a party they attended together, he proudly pointed to some of them saying, “This one, that one, that one over there, this one too”. Then, with a smirk on his face, Pandya said that his parents were so proud of him.
It’s hard to believe that we still need to say this but here goes. Dear Hardik Pandya, treating women like objects is nothing to boast about, especially on a nationally televised show watched by millions of your young followers.
To make things even worse, Pandya tried to justify his behaviour by saying he failed in the ninth grade; what has that got to do with anything? Is a formal education a prerequisite to respecting women?
Educated or not but a person who plays for their country and thinks it's ok to speak about women like they are some sort of objects #HardikPandya shameful. If you think your views make you look like a bad man that you may think you are your totally wrong. Looked like a fool!
— Kiran (@Kiran36611876) January 7, 2019
What made the episode so cringe-worthy wasn’t just Pandya’s self-congratulatory misogyny but Johar and Rahul’s complicit giggles. They didn’t say a single word to Pandya as he spouted trash with pride. While Rahul projected himself as the wing man who plays the nice guy when Pandya does nasty things, Johar – probably in search of TRPs – framed questions to invite exactly the kind of responses that Pandya happily provided.
While discussing Pandya’s interaction with women, Johar asked, “Why don’t you ask women their name in a club? What do you talk about then?”
This episode explained exactly why sexism and misogyny are still prevalent on our screens, in our living rooms, in our offices, classrooms, sports fields – everywhere. So many highly privileged men and women pay lip service to the idea of gender equality but then giggle or stay silent when their peers spout objectifying trash in the name of humour.
Plenty of other people have expressed disgust over the episode but there has been no public response from their peers, or indeed from the BCCI.
It goes without saying that Indian cricketers are treated like gods in our country. What they say and do matters, especially what they think is acceptable to say in a public forum. It’s not just Pandya’s comments that are the problem here but his confidence that he won’t suffer any repercussions for his behaviour – and then the confirmation of his confidence.
It’s okay though, you don’t have to quit watching Koffee with Karan because of its misogyny; just rewind to a couple episodes ago when Johar delivered a long heartfelt monologue on the MeToo movement and try to ignore the hypocrisy, just like our stars do.
Featured image credit: Youtube screenshot