By Manavi Nag
Koffee with Karan is an eminent talk show that features a wide range of different celebrities. The talk show is infamous for the host, Karan Johar’s blunt but to the point questions, usually exposing things about fellow people in the industry. The show is quick paced and even has a rapid-fire round with questions revolving around their current significant others or previous ones, rating questions and many more such questions. The show has been the topic of controversy for the longest time and recently two Indian cricketers Hardik Pandya and Kannanur Lokesh (KL) Rahul were the guests on the show.
The comments he made itself, makes us, as a community, reflect back on the progress we have made through the years on objectifying women and men
When faced with a question, Hardik Pandya’s answer was inappropriate, misogynistic and highly derogatory. What he said is too explicit to be put in a school newspaper however he did explain to Karan how he likes to observe how women move in nightclubs. Not only was this comment absolutely disgusting but also he boasted about it. He didn’t seem to have any shame in admitting it, quite the contrary, he seemed proud of it and said it as if it was a norm and something people should applaud him for. But that’s not all. When Karan asked him and KL Rahul, who gets to date a girl, KL Rahul said: “up to the girl”. However, seconds later Hardik Pandya replied saying A“Nahi nahi aisa kuch nahi hai, talent pe hota hai. Jisko mila woh leke jao. It is on talent.” He was basically saying that “No no, nothing like that. It up to our talent. Whoever has more talent gets the girl”. Hardik Pandya completely dismissed his roommate’s comment about it being up to the girl and instead talked about how it depended on their individual talent. The comments he made itself, makes us, as a community, reflect back on the progress we have made through the years on objectifying women and men and both genders being equal. He so explicitly was objectifying women by talking about how he observes them move. Hardik Panday is a world-renowned cricketer and has many young and impressionable fans. If he is spreading this kind of message on such streaming sites and the Koffee with Karan Team are actually airing it (unedited), it is easy to think that what he said was fine. The cricketers have faced much backlash since then but have been met with several bans. They have been suspended and sent home from Australia (that was where India was currently playing) and missed a 3 ODI series in Australia and are also missing a series in New Zealand. However, as of writing this article (24.1.19), the BCCI have lifted their suspension. Fellow teammates have voiced their disgust like Harbhajan Singh said “ You don’t tell these kinds of things on national television. We don’t even discuss these things with our friends.”
They both sent out apologies about what they said. KL, not so much because of what he said, but he was there so by association, it was his obligation to send out an apology. In Pandya’s apology, he claims he got carried away with the “nature of the show”. So what is the nature of the show? What does he mean? Koffee with Karan isn’t shy of controversy and isn’t new to it, but why is it that people get carried away and say things they later regret on this particular show? Koffee with Karan seems to bring out the worst in people. Through some extensive research, I found comments that people have said whilst on the show, shading fellow co-workers, putting others down, sexist comments and even exposing them. In one episode featuring Ranveer Singh and Anushka Sharma, a few years ago, Ranveer said, well, something really inappropriate and offensive to Anushka. This comment made Anushka Sharma highly uncomfortable, but she was strong enough to say that he can’t talk to her like that. Many times, people aren’t scared to speak their mind of Koffee with Karan, like what Kangana Ranaut did in one episode. When Karan Johar asked her who has shown her the most attitude in the Bollywood industry she replied saying “You, Karan. In my biopic, you’ll play that stereotypical Bollywood biggie who’s snooty and completely intolerant of outsiders. The flag-bearer of nepotism.” Kangana came at the own host of the show, holding nothing back. Imran Khan has said that Sonam Kapoor should do fewer magazines and more movies. And Deepika and Sonam Kapoor have said highly personal things about their former significant other Ranbir Kapoor. Tusshar Kapoor also said, “Preity Zinta is synonymous of botox.”
These are only a few and it isn’t even scratching the surface of the mean things said on Koffee with Karan, but why do people say these on KWK especially and why is the show compatible with drama. I think what Hardik Pandya meant when he referred to the “nature of the show”, is something people who haven’t been on KWK can’t relate with. See, for us, we don’t understand what it is like to be in that kind of environment, with multiple cameras in your face and provoking questions being hit at you at a fast pace. It’s hard to articulate what you say when it’s a loaded question. So when Hardik Pandya was talking about the nature of the show, and we can see other stars who have clearly got carried away with it, too, I think it all roots down to 4 main things. Karan Johar’s provoking questions, the atmosphere of the show itself, the facade that you have to keep up despite the questions and the reputation that the show has and making sure you live up to it, is all a wrong equation that will result in many of these controversies. By now, I do think the KWK team have noticed this and have noticed the reputation they have and all the factors that make these stars crack, but why would they, a super successful show, stop doing what the people love and what sells. What Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul said was wrong, but I think that their controversy just proves the fact that these talk shows don’t care about the compromising spot it puts their “friends” in; they only think about what sells. The misogyny genuinely scares me, because of how easy it was for the cricketer to say it without even thinking about the consequences. The comments made on the show was sexist and makes one doubt the integrity of the progress we have made through the years in gender equality however this incident opened up a whole new kind of thinking behind the politics and algorithm of Koffee with Karan itself. This whole incident was shocking and unexpected but it isn’t the first on the show and most certainly won’t be the last.