Cricketers on the set of Koffee with Karan Image Credit: Gulf News archives

What you need to know:

  • Karan Johar responds to Pandya-Rahul issue, says he feels "responsible".
  • Cricketer Rahul Dravid also breaks his silence on the issue. 
  • Pandya and Rahul have faced major backlash because of comments made on the show.

Dubai: Bollywood director Karan Johar said he feels “responsible” for what happened to Indian cricketers Hardik Pandya and K.L Rahul, after comments made by them on an episode of his talk show, Koffee with Karan, faced online backlash.

The two had made sexist, racist and misogynistic comments, which has led to their suspension by the cricketing board.

Johar, the host of the show, finally broke his silence on the issue and said that it has escalated “beyond [his] control”.

In an interview with English business and finance news channel ET Now, Johar said: “I have to say that I feel very responsible because it was my show, it was my platform. I invited them as guests and so the ramifications and repercussions of the show are my responsibility. I have had so many sleepless nights, wondering about how I can undo this damage, who is going to listen to me. It’s now gone into a zone which is beyond my control.”

Johar added that the questions he asked the cricketers were questions he asks anyone who appears on the show, including women.

He said: “I have no control about the answers that come my way. Post the show, I have a control room of 16 to 17 girls… the show is run entirely by women, and I am the only man there… No one came and told me ‘Karan, this was inappropriate’.”

Johar added that he was being accused of “enjoying the TRP” (Television Rating Point) of the show when it started receiving online backlash, to which he said: “I don’t care about the TRP. This is a spinoff of my career, it is not my career. I don’t care about the ratings.”

Johar called the talk show “frivolous” and “borderline ridiculous”, and said “stop making sense” is the show’s mantra.

Despite the nature of the show, Johar clarified that he does not justify the comments made during the interview and said that things were said that may have “crossed boundaries”.

“I feel the boys have paid the price for this already.”

In the interview, Johar said that he identifies as a feminist and has been raised by strong women in his life. He had no intention of offending women, through that episode.

He said: “I will be so conscious of shooting any episode now… I will be so worried about the questions I ask.”

Johar is in Davos for the World Economic Forum along with filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy from Pakistan to discuss the power of film for diplomacy.

Former Indian cricket captain Rahul Dravid has also addressed the Pandya-Rahul issue and has asked people to “not over react”.

As reported by Indian newspaper, The Hindu, Dravid said: “It is not that players did not make mistakes in the past. It is not that mistakes will not be made in the future despite our best efforts to educate the youth. But let us not over react please.”

According to a previous report by the newspaper, former cricketers Anil Kumble, Virender Sehwag, Mohinder Amarnathl and more, have discussed the need to address issues of grooming youngsters.

In the same report, the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) operations manager, Saba Karim, is quoted: “There are certain things within our control. Some are not. At various stages we organise lectures for the youngsters on handling the media, understanding the laws and managing finances.

“Dravid does it on a regular basis. It is an ever-evolving process of workshops on gender sensitisation for players and officials.”

Dravid said that these incidents have happened in the past and is highlighted more these days. “We need to keep mentoring [the players], educating them because challenges today are different on and off the field.”

Dravid is presently the head coach of India Under 19 (U-19) team and the national India A cricket team.

Despite apologising for the inappropriate comments made on the show, Pandya and Rahul were sent home from the Australia Series, and the grooming brand Gillette dropped Pandya as their ambassador.