For those who have not followed the controversy, a quick introduction. At the IIFA Awards, held recently in New York, Karan Johar, Saif Ali Khan and Varun Dhawan ganged up against actor Kangana Ranaut to make several jibes against her. Ranaut’s crime was to have taken on the mighty Johar as the “flagbearer of nepotism”, when she was a guest on his show, Koffee with Karan, many moons ago.
As if to justify the nepotism that's highly prevalent in Bollywood, the trio declared, ‘nepotism rocks!’ However, the message that came out loud and clear was one of ‘chauvinism’, resulting in the three men coming under heavy fire on social media and elsewhere.
Who came out stronger from the incident? Certainly not the trio, who have come out looking like lame ducks, who took on someone who was not even present at that event. Certainly not the brands (Nexa, Vivo, Colors, McDonalds, Close-Up, Nakshatra and others), who associated with IIFA in various capacities.
Take the case of Colors. Over the years, Colors has stolen the thunder from other GECs in putting up a wide array of women-oriented programming, many of them adopting bold and progressive themes. Industry watchers will agree that rival Star had to pull every lever, including parading the men in blue with their mother’s names on the cricket jersey, or getting Aamir Khan to start a sweet shop named Gurdeep Singh and Daughters, to showcase its positioning of ‘Nayi Soch’ (new way of thinking).
Will the Kangana Ranaut bashing episode, and the telecast of that on Colors, the broadcasting sponsor at IIFA, take some sheen off Colors as a champion of women? After having carefully created a progressive image, one would naturally not want to beam a message to millions, where three influential men used a global platform to take potshots at a lady, who’s created an enviable position for herself as a self-made woman. Kangana Ranaut is not just a name, but a sentiment, that resonates strongly with Indian woman of today, and many of them regularly consume the entertainment dished out by Colors as a staple diet.
Also, at a time when advertisers are increasingly concerned about the kind on content on which their ads get telecast, is this the kind of programming one would want their brands to associate with?
The meek apology by Dhawan and Johar some hours back, certainly proves that they are on the backfoot.
And Ranaut seems to be the only one who probably came out shining from this incident.