On January 7th, the huge cricket watching audience of India could finally get around to celebrating the historic benchmark that Virat Kohli and his team achieved in the Land Down Under. Sadly, even before this amazing moment, Indian cricket was already in the limelight for all the wrong reasons- conduct of a team member outside the field of play. More specifically, Hardik Pandya’s infamous “candid” self on Koffee With Karan.
Now, as a politically correct member of KJo’s audience, a majority of Pandya’s statements seem to be just too crass and creepy to reiterate. However, for the sake of providing context, here’s a comprehensive thread on every single problematic thing that was uttered on the show. Let’s talk about why this must be talked about.
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
A Gentleman’s game?
Call cricket whatever you want to- a colonial legacy, a religion or a more popular gentleman’s game, one thing that we have lost the privilege of in this day and age of social media is harping on the argument about how personal and professional need to be seperated. Firstly, technology, like it or not, has connected us to the level that the President of a particular country can just whip out his phone and type an irate tweet as per his whimsical self and the rest of the world must treat it as gospel. Similarly, for the bigshots of Indian cricket with more than decent social media following, is this really the image of yourself that you want to portray to the countless Indians who admire you for the skill you’ve shown in your professional life?
Isn’t Hardik Pandya in a sense belittling the camaraderie that we as cricket fans have become used to seeing within the fabric of the men’s team that represent our country internationally? The phrase “locker-room” talk, problematic for more reasons than one has cropped up as a feeble attempt to dismiss Pandya’s statements as yet another example of “boys being boys.” And such normalisation is the exact reason why India leads the charts when it comes to crimes against women.
Let’s look at another exchange on the show for context:
Hardik Pandya: “At a party my parents asked me acha tera wala kaun sa hai so I said yeh, yeh, yeh (pointing out women) and they were like waah proud of you beta.”
Yes. Because more commodification and objectification of women was exactly what the collective mindset of this country needed. And can we just take a minute here to point out how he casually brings up his family and this kind of prevelant behaviour in it? He is telling everyone watching that he is completely unaware that this kind of shameless bravado is actually pretty high up on the misogynistic scale because, well, his family has endorsed it. For a “sanskaar” hungry country like India, this would be enough validation for this kind of crass behaviour, wouldn’t it?
Here’s another gem:
KJo: If you all hit on the same women, how do you decide?
Hardik Pandya: “Nahi nahi aisa kuch nahi hai, talent pe hota hai. Jisko mila woh leke jao.” (It depends on talent. Whoever gets the girl can simply take her.
Because why should a woman have her own mind? And yes, why not teach the next generation of cricket fans exactly how little female agency matters. After all, it all depends on “talent”.
From the entire episode, these are a few possible and reasonable conclusions in addition to questions which have since remained unanswered.
- Hardik Pandya has no sense of social responsibility because otherwise, he would have thought twice before subjecting his fans to this kind of verbal garbage.
- Cricket may be a religion but cricketers certainly are not gods. Perhaps the only saving grace here was KL Rahul’s obviously uncomfortable demeanour throughout the exchange. If this is the kind of sexist banter that the Indian cricket team indulges in, there should be steps taken to educate and address this toxicity.
- Male privilege exists. If you still believe otherwise, please do watch the complete Koffee With Karan episode available on Hotstar.
- How does one get away with this kind of behaviour on a public platform with absolutely zero accountability? Who is Hardik Pandya accountable to? Who gets to put him to task?
- Can we also talk about the larger picture here where this kind of feckless talking is considered “entertaining”? Why was this episode okayed to be aired in the first place given the obvious editing Karan Johar and his team indulge in. What exactly came out of this?
- Is it now time for BCCI to set an example by sternly clamping down on this kind of behaviour especially given that cricket in India is no longer known for its men’s team alone?
- Someone’s personal opinion is as much a part of them as their professional performances are. Brushing this off with “we only care about how he plays” is only going to add to the problem because it will normalise something that is not, in any universe, meant to be normal.
Has India really evolved with time when it comes to perceptions of women? Going by Hardik Pandya, it would seem not.
As of January 9th, 2019, Hardik Pandya has since taken to social media to put out an apology for his conduct on the show Koffee With Karan. Tell us if this accountability is enough.
— hardik pandya (@hardikpandya7) January 9, 2019