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‘Koffee With Karan’: The Show That Has Spawned One Too Many Controversies

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Karan Johar And Neha Dhupia On The Sets Of Calling Karan Season 2

Two weeks after the Koffee with Karan episode with Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul aired, Karan Johar is under the limelight again. He has responded to the cricketers’ comments that spoke offensively of women, saying, “I feel very responsible because it was my show, my platform. I invited them as guests, and so the ramifications and repercussion of the show are my responsibility.”

The interim suspension of Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul from BCCI was provisionally removed last Thursday by the Supreme Court appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) and Amicus Curiae PS Narasimha. This did not go well with the members of the BCCI who had demanded their suspension. However, the two cricketers will now fly to New Zealand to join the Indian team in a limited-over series.

Karan Johar welcomed this move. He said he had had sleepless nights thinking about how to undo the damage. People were harsh on the cricketers, and it was only the nature of the show to ask these questions, he said. “I think there was harshness towards them. Some inappropriate things said and they have been punished for it. Can we now please have these two brilliant cricketers play their game.”

On the show that aired on January 6, the cricketers spoke about how popular Hardik Pandya was among women, and when Karan asked why he wouldn’t make an effort to find out a woman’s name at a club, Hardik said, “I’m little from the black side so I need to observe and watch how they (women) move.”

He then bragged about hooking up with many women, and telling his parents about it, “Main karke aaya hai aaj (I did it today).” KL Rahul didn’t speak much but giggled through the episode, with Karan Johar, who later tweeted, “With these young forces I had a blast. They hit it out of the park.”

After facing suspension and a lot of flak, Hardik Pandya apologised saying he got carried away by the nature of the show. Karan said he never thought they messed up. “The episode was as per the frivolous nature of the show.”

This cycle of making an offensive comment on the show, letting it blow up, asking for an apology that makes headlines again weeks later, is not new to Karan Johar or the guests of Koffee with Karan.

In one of the earliest seasons in 2011, Tushar Kapoor’s botox comment about Preity Zinta made news, and Tushar said, “Everyone knows that Karan’s rapid fire round is just for laughs. You don’t even have the time to think when Karan puts you in the dock.”

In later seasons, it was big news when Kareena Kapoor took a dig at Priyanka Chopra for her accent, Emraan Haashmi called Aishwarya Rai plastic and asked Shraddha Kapoor to “eat something”, and Sonam Kapoor said that in the industry, if you’re not good looking, they think you’re a good actor.

But the biggest, and the necessary one, was Kanagana Ranaut calling Karan Johar the flag-bearer of nepotism. For weeks, this was reported, and Karan later told the media he was offended by her comment.

A natural thing to ask is why didn’t he edit it out then? Did he know he was going to make news for over a month after this? That he could later insult Kangana for not knowing the meaning of the word, for not knowing English? Even later admit that nothing mattered more to him than “the commerce of his art”? And then apologise?

The answer is no. He wasn’t doing this for TRP. This was the nature of his show, and no one, not even Karan Johar who wrote the questions, wrote the rules, had control over it. Just like how Karan Johar had no control over nepotism because it was the nature of the industry, and “star kids are famous right from the age of  two”, so “if he must remain relevant in the industry after 20 years, he will do what it takes.”

Karan Johar is very aware of his privileges. He says in a recent HuffPost interview, “I am a feminist. When I hear of these incidents (sexual harassment in the industry), it makes my stomach churn. It makes me feel like, if we’re at a privileged position and we cannot take charge of this, then what’s the point of any of this?”

But perhaps it’s best for him to not take charge of anything, like he cannot, or will not, as the host of his show, and as Bollywood’s big filmmaker and producer; because when he does – as the writer of his films – characters like Anushka Sharma’s in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, his favourite film, will be punished with death for not reciprocating a man’s love, and that will be perfectly okay.

He says, “I wrote this character. He loved her so crazily. She could’ve loved him back, why couldn’t she? So she got cancer and she died… Well, she got punished, I wrote it. See, a filmmaker is a God, you write, you create and you destroy.”

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