“I’m just watching and just observing... how they move. I’m a little from the black side, so I have to see how they move first.”
Eight minutes into last Sunday’s episode of ‘Koffee With Karan’, Hardik Pandya was no more just the all-rounder that Virat Kohli refuses to lose faith in. ‘Misogynist’, ‘sexist’, ‘racist’ have since become some of the adjectives used to describe the ‘little on the black side’ life that Hardik Pandya boasted of.
The repercussions since have been widespread with BCCI’s CoA confirming that both players – Pandya and KL Rahul– have been suspended, pending an enquiry. Skipper Virat Kohli too distanced himself and the team from the comments made on the show.
The Beans Spilled on Koffee, Along With a Side of Dignity
The 49-minute episode started with Johar confessing he followed very little cricket and as a “tiny way of redeeming myself” he was hosting the very first ‘cricket episode’ and proceeded to introduce “brat-pack cricketers” Pandya and Rahul.
Asked about his “rock star, rapster vibe” by big Bollywood director Karan Johar, Pandya delivered the first of his many distasteful quotes.
"“From the start I was like this only. I wanted to be different from what others are. This came naturally to me. I wanted to be like the West Indies people and all. I like the black culture.”" -
While that in itself should have set off some alarm bells, the 25-year-old cricketer then went on to talk about the close relationship he shared with his family, citing even more cringeworthy examples:
"“When I lost my virginity, I came home and said, “Main karke aaya hai aaj (I did it today).”"
“The other day, at a party, my parents asked me ‘tera wala kaun kaun hai’(which are the women you’ve been with?) I sat with them and said (makes pointing gestures) yeh, yeh, yeh sabke saath kuch raha hai mera (this one, this one and this one – I’ve had something with all of them) and they were like waah proud of you beta."
Clearly in no hurry to ask cricket questions on his ‘first-ever cricket episode’, Johar then dug deeper to investigate the finer details of Pandya’s friendship with KL Rahul.
"If you all hit on the same women, then how do you decide?" asked the filmmaker. Rahul's response was, "up to the woman." Pandya’s “Nahi nahi aisa kuch nahi hai, talent pe hota hai. Jisko mila woh leke jao (Nothing like that, it's about talent, whoever gets them, takes them)."
The Apology & a Show Cause Notice
Three days after the show went on air (and the celebrations of the Test series win in Australia also had subsided) Hardik Pandya issued an apology on Wednesday saying he got carried away with the ‘nature of the show’.
"After reflecting on my comments on ‘Koffee with Karan’, I would like to apologise to everyone concerned who I may have hurt in any way. Honestly, I got a bit carried away with the nature of the show. In no way did I mean to disrespect or hurt anyone's sentiments. Respect," read his tweet.
Spilled milk and all – the BCCI’s CoA next stepped in, sending a show cause notice to Pandya and also KL Rahul, giving them 24 hours to reply. Pandya’s email response came within a few hours.
"I made certain statements without realising that these could be disrespectful and offend sensitivities of viewers for which I am sincerely regretful. Rest assured I hold the BCCI in highest regard and will exercise complete discretion and prudence to ensure that such incidents are never repeated in future," he said.
Outcry: Onus on BCCI For Actions of Adults
A 25-year-old cricketer went on a chat show of his own volition, shared his own views and talked about the relationship he shared with his own family. However, as is mostly the case with anything in Indian cricket, the onus of Pandya’s behaviour was soon dumped on the BCCI.
Former BCCI general manager of cricket administration Ratnakar Shetty said it was time the board “take corrective steps for cricketers who talk rubbish on public platforms” while Harsha Bhogle expressed his wish that the “BCCI spends time in sensitising these young players to life beyond the dressing room”.
It is time the BCCI decides to take corrective steps for cricketers who talk rubbish on public platforms. Hardik Pandya was a disgrace to the cricket community the way he spoke on Koffeewith Karan show. He has insulted the women and also made a racist remark.— Ratnakar Shetty (@RatnakarShetty6) January 9, 2019
It is all very well to issue show-cause notices now to KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya. But I do wish the BCCI spends time in sensitising these young players to life beyond the dressing room; to getting them outside the bubble that is inevitable given the adulation they get.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) January 9, 2019
So, again. A 25-year-old cricketer went on a chat show of his own volition and shared anecdotes from his own life and suddenly the BCCI has been found lacking in some way?
Why not call Hardik Pandya’s behaviour simply what it was? Sexist. Misogynistic. Racist.
Why make excuses for a 25-year-old ‘young’ cricketer and not expect him to know already what life ‘outside the bubble that is inevitable given the adulation they get’ entails?
The board may err on many fronts – almost all of which are well-documented on this website – but this one is on just one man. Hardik Pandya.
Nonetheless, The CoA Steps In
It’s now all about the optics.
Already on the back-foot after the shoddy treatment of BCCI CEO Rahul Johri’s ‘Me Too’ case, CoA chief Vinod Rai declared on Thursday - “as far as I am concerned, the comments were crass, in bad taste and unacceptable” and recommended a two match suspension for both players. Then, for once, he left the final decision open to discussion with fellow CoA member Diana Edulji.
For context, Rahul Johri’s ‘Me Too’ case’s final verdict was a split decision between Vinod Rai and Diana Edulji (who wanted the CEO to resign). That time though, despite Johri’s behaviour being labelled ‘unprofessional and inappropriate’ by a member of the investigation committee, Rai overruled Edulji’s call and let Johri rejoin office.
Coming back to Friday and at 5pm, Vinod Rai informed the media that both players have been suspended, pending an enquiry and will be missing the first ODI against Australia on Saturday.
Hardik Pandya, whose deeply disturbing comments that forced Hotstar to take the episode down and KL Rahul, who at most, played the role of an enabler on the 49-minute episode.
That both players are being handed the same reprimand may well be the biggest indication yet that the CoA has reached a point where decisions are being made on a knee-jerk basis and not simply on merit.
For Hardik Pandya – the only of the two players who was likely to play the one-dayer on Saturday – one could only hope this is a red-flag that all is not right with living life ‘a little on the black side’.
. Read more on Sports by The Quint.RSS & BJP’s Nehru-Netaji ‘Cosplay’: Irony Dies a Thousand DeathsFirst Time in Gujarat: Feather Implants for Birds Injured by Kites . Read more on Sports by The Quint.