Legendary cricketer Sunil Gavaskar today found himself at the centre of a furore after he made a seemingly innocuous remark on cricketer Virat Kohli and his wife Anushka Sharma in his commentary during an IPL match.
Talking about the lack of real-match practice amidst the coronavirus-induced lockdown and Kohli’s need for practice, Gavaskar playfully commented about a video that had gone viral during the lockdown when Anushka Sharma was seen bowling to Virat Kohli.
In the commentary, Gavaskar had said: “Ab joh lockdown tha to sirf Anushka ki bowling ki practice ki unhone, wo video dekhi hai (reference to a viral video), usse to kuch nahi hona hai” (I saw a video during the lockdown when Virat was seen practicing to Anushka’s bowling. But that is not going to be enough here).
However, Gavaskar’s benign and factual observations stirred a massive controversy on the social media websites, with many twisting his comment as being sexually suggestive and still others accusing him of indulging in sexism for his playful comment that Anushka Sharma’s bowling was not sufficient for Kohli to prepare him to compete at the highest level of cricket.
The controversy was further fuelled when actor Anushka Sharma fell victim to the twisted narrative that was doing the rounds on the Internet and took to her Instagram account to slam the veteran cricketer for his statements. Sharma deemed the commentary made by Mr Gavaskar as distasteful and sought an explanation from him as to why he found the need of making generalised statements accusing a wife for his husband’s failures on the field.
“I am sure you can have many other words and sentences in your mind to use to comment on my husband’s performance from last night or are your words only relevant if you use my name in the process?” Anushka said in a statement she posted on Instagram.
Soon after Anushka hauled Gavaskar over coals for drawing reference to the viral video where she was seen throwing down balls to Virat Kohli, self-proclaimed custodians of feminism jumped the bandwagon to criticise the cricketer’s statement for being sexist in his commentary.
A journalist with Hindustan Times, Sunetra Choudhary, hailed Sharma’s riposte to Sunil Gavaskar. When one Twitter user pointed out that Gavaskar did not speak anything demeaning, Sunetra responded that Anushka was calling out the cricketer’s “casual sexism”.
I think he thought it was being funny. To her, and legitimately so, it was casual sexism. And frankly, it is. That isn’t acceptable anymore and women are right to call it out— sunetra choudhury (@sunetrac) September 25, 2020
Former NDTV journalist Nidhi Razdan criticised Sunil Gavaskar’s comment as a “very very disappointing statement” and congratulated Anushka Sharma for standing up to this.
Right. Anushka was “impulsive and juvenile “ too is it for her statement ? Get a life— Nidhi Razdan (@Nidhi) September 25, 2020
Here again when one of the Twitter users called Nidhi impulsive and juvenile for outraging over an issue without fact-checking it, she conveniently shifted the blame on Anushka Sharma, asking the user if Anushka too was impulsive and juvenile for issuing a statement.
Radio presenter Anushka Arora lauded the actor, saying that comments made by Sunil Gavaskar need to stop as they are “backwards” and “unnecessary”.
Actor Zareen Khan also took to Twitter to side with Anushka Sharma and questioned Sunil Gavaskar if his wife was ever accused for his bad performance on the field.
Anushka Sharma had said that the AIB roast video was in “good humour”
It is noteworthy to mention here that Anushka Sharma responded to the controversy after trolls on social media websites deviously twisted the comment made by Sunil Gavaskar to allege that he made vulgar and sexist remark against the actor.
Gavaskar while recalling the incident about Virat-Anushka’s viral cricket video meant that the Indian Cricket Team captain was so eager for playing cricket during the lockdown months that he even started practising with Anushka Sharma outside their residence.
In light of the recent controversy, many people on social media called out the faux outrage surrounding the remarks made by Gavaskar. To this end, many users have shared a video of Anushka Sharma responding to a question asked by a journalist about her opinion on the AIB roast video where unsavoury comments outraging the modesty of women were made by the participants.
“I think everyone is entitled to their opinions. According to me, it was in good humour. It was not meant to be taken very seriously. This is the way I looked at it(AIB Roast),” Anushka Sharma had said then.
Gavaskar’s statements twisted out of context to fuel feminist outrage
One argument that the so-called feminists supporting Anushka Sharma have made while defending the overreaction against Sunil Gavaskar is that the actor knows what she is doing when she is calling out the former cricketer over his remarks. While doing so, these folks are essentially lending credence to the deceitful perversion of the statements made by Mr Gavaskar.
Defending the outrage, they also claimed that Anushka had been at the receiving end of criticism from some time now for being needlessly ridiculed for her husband’s poor performance on the cricketing field and that the admonition of a well-known cricketer such as Sunil Gavaskar might serve to improve the general discourse surrounding casual sexism.
However, the exponents of pseudo-feminism, forget the fact that it was the internet trolling that unnecessarily held Anushka Sharma responsible for Virat Kohli’s poor batting streak. In this case, again, it was internet trolls who distorted Sunil Gavaskar’s reference to the viral video to allege that Anushka is accountable for Kohli’s poor performance in the last match.
This overreaction underscores the latent tendencies of pseudo feminists in our country where outraging over an incident is more important than bothering to check the veracity of the said incident. Facts take a back-seat when the soul purpose is to deride a person and make an example out of him so as to uphold the so-called cherished ideals of ‘feminism’. Feigning offence takes precedence over actual facts.
In all likelihood, had it been somebody else, possibly a worker giving a throw-down to Virat Kohli in that viral video, these supporters of pseudo feminism, with their insatiable urge to create a mountain out of a molehill, would have nonetheless criticised Sunil Gavaskar for glorifying a video where Kohli was practising against his house helps, citing violations of coronavirus guidelines or caste disparity or any other faux reason that they can conjure up.
It is evident that Gavaskar made the reference about Virat Kohli practising to Anushka Sharma’s bowling in lighter vein but to attribute it to “casual sexism” and equating him with the despicable trolls, without granting him the benefit of the doubt, is one unnecessary step too far in stretching political correctness. The fact that Gavaskar was not accorded the benefit of the doubt that he deserves, perfectly encapsulates the time we are living in where “smashing the patriarchy” takes greater precedence over more mundane things such as verifying the insinuations made by trolls on the internet.