Oh, The Brouhaha: Can’t We Ignore What We Don’t Appreciate?

Not so funnyWhat do we do when we watch something distasteful, in the name of humour? We do not appreciate it because it is unfunny. So can we ignore it altogether and pretend it does not exist? Absolutely. I am certain all of us have a hundred different chores and errands to run. So a certain comic’s jest-gone-wrong should not intimidate us or become a source of compunction.

Things are not going too well for All India Bakchod (AIB)’s Tanmay Bhat. Ever since the comedian uploaded a face-swap video on Snapchat – showing a virtual battle between former cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar, he got roasted across social forums. While some sought an apology, others opined that the video was disrespectful towards the two living legends. But there was more. “Sachin vs Lata Civil War” went viral soon after it was uploaded, facing severe political counterattack as well. Today political parties in Maharashtra want Bhat’s head on a pike (figuratively). Well, they want him arrested, and legal charges slapped.

While everybody is entitled to their opinions about any arbitrary thing under the sun, taking a joke to another tangent is uncalled for. We are not justifying Bhat’s video. Honestly, if I were asked to decide, I’d say it was humourless. There was no wit in it and we expect AIB to coddle in more intelligent comedy instead. Having said that, the bigger debate here should be whether a Snapchat video – which has innovative features like swapping faces with anyone – become so significant that it ends up offending a lot of people?

The Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) are clearly irked. They have slammed the video, calling it offensive and unacceptable. According to news reports, the latter has even filed a complaint against Bhat, having sworn to ban his shows across India.

Sachin Tendulkar and Lata Mangeshkar are legendary, undoubtedly. Watching someone roast them using witless statements is not amusing. But is it important to take this debate across the country and fight on behalf two persons who have not even issued a statement yet (well Mangeshkar has, now)?

The singer has said she has not even seen the video and has no inclination to either. That is about it. She refused to comment further. But here, people are going bananas over an inane video. The political goons who are issuing threats and raising more than just eyebrows, have no business with humour and should be the last people to take offense. Simply put, they do not have the right to get angry.

Where do these people disappear when sleazy films that objectify and ridicule womanhood in the name of “slapstick” comedy get the green signal? Do they go inside their burrows because they suffer from selective blindness? Why do these righteous vigilantes not bat their eyelids then? Do these scripts not breach their “modesty”?

If what a comedian is saying does not make sense, you have all the right to ignore them and their work. You may even publicly condemn it. But creating unnecessary ruckus, burning effigies and issuing threats says a thing or two about your class and intentions too – and they are not noble. So before attacking someone, delve into your own persona, and invest your energies on pressing issues that need attention.

Prerna Mittra


The Viewspaper