(Rishi Majumder is an associate partner at the new media company Oijo)
As happens often in India, what started out as a roast has ended up a farce. All India Bakchod's roast, which went live on YouTube on January 28, has been taken down. On Tuesday, the most farcical statement on the controversy over whether the roast was unacceptably vulgar by law came from none other than Ashoke Pandit, who was recently made a member of the Censor Board.
Karan Johar could have easily shown his position while performing sex to his mom at home instead of making it public.#AIB Porn Show.- Ashoke Pandit (@ashokepandit) February 3, 2015
If you find this unfunny it's because you haven't joined the dots.
See what he tweeted immediately after:
On the way to #AjmerShariff . Will seek blessings for all of you & also pray for peace & prosperity of my great country Bharat.- Ashoke Pandit (@ashokepandit) February 3, 2015
You need to have a natural flair for comedy to be able to abusively and homophobically troll a fellow filmmaker, then rush off to a dargah to "pray for Bharat" while Twitter roasts you on a spit.
Comedy and farce. Observe, for instance, his tweet from Monday:
@priyankac19 I didn't know you are so desperate to meet me. Let me know when, I will educate you abt Censor. YOUR ppl objected to it.- Ashoke Pandit (@ashokepandit) February 2, 2015
" ...desperate to meet me."
" ...educate you about censor."
Such blatant and crass innuendo from none other than the member of a censor board, whose chairperson Pahlaj Nihalani said recently, "There will accountability and no room for ambiguity in the censoring process."
Nihalani was particularly worried about the "double standards" in judging films and "vulgarity" on TV. Yes, the same Nihalani whose films are known especially for their iconic song lyrics, such as Main Maal Gaadi Tu Dhakka Lagaa and Khada Hai.
Apparently, he's a subconscious believer in farce too.
On the roast, here's another from Pandit:
Did the police give permission to #AIB even after they knew what B stands for?#Bakchod.- Ashoke Pandit (@ashokepandit) February 3, 2015
It's important to state here that Pandit doesn't stand alone in his purported crusade against impropriety. The hashtag #AIBNationalShame began trending shortly after the roast went live. Another Twitter trend had those who supported Team AIB with "We Stand By AIB Knockout".
Those who seem to share Pandit's concerns include the Maharashtra Christian Youth Forum. Also, Akhilesh Tiwari, president of the Brahman Ekta Seva Sanstha. If you had heard the name of the latter body a week ago, you may have met it with a degree of disbelief. But now a complaint about the roast, at the Saki Naka police station in Mumbai, stands testimony to its existence.
The Maharashtra culture minister Vinod Tawde tweeted:
On #AIBRoast, will only enquire if the AIB had taken appropriate certificate. No moral policing if they r allowed by law, I can't stop them.- Vinod Tawde (@TawdeVinod) February 2, 2015
But Tiwari, of Brahman Ekta and Seva fame, is certain that the roast is "extremely abusive and it is not only ruining the clean image of the Indian culture & women, but is also misleading today's youth."
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, "If the government finds any kind of obscenity on this programme which is in violation of the law, then it will take action."
So nice to see twitter is filled with such angels who point out hypocrisy n never use foul language n have nvr laughed at dirty jokes (haw)- Sonakshi Sinha (@sonakshisinha) February 3, 2015
And before the controversy went viral, Deepika Padukone had given it a glowing review.
The #AIBKnockout is the coolest funniest show I have EVER witnessed!@AllIndiaBakchod @arjunk26@karanjohar@RajeevMasand- Deepika Padukone (@deepikapadukone) December 20, 2014
As for "Indian culture", one wonders whether Tiwari has heard of traditional practices such as Maharashtra's bawdy Lavani, or the purposefully vulgar and offensive Gaari (from 'gaali') songs sung at North Indian weddings. Does he intend to file a police complaint against each such wedding too?
Sadly, "today's youth" are less aware of many such folk and classical traditions because they haven't received support- from the state or self-appointed guardians of culture. And now, a new provocative comedic form is being stamped on in the name of a supposedly homogenous Indian culture we can hardly recognize.
Another more seasoned proponent of farce is Congress MLA from Vile Parle Krishna Hegde. "Abusing, homosexual actions and filth is not freedom of expression," he said. "They can be real role models if they take up other real issues like saving the environment, cleanliness etc."
If you feel it would have been impossible to roast Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh on saving the environment and cleanliness, you have clearly been out of touch with current affairs. Also, you suffer from a lack of imagination.
For Hegde, like Pandit, is a natural comic talent. Last August he felt the poster of PK was in bad taste. So he decided, by way of protest, to dress up, for the media, a scrawny cutout of a naked and squinting Aamir Khan with an oversized Geiranger (a tourist village in Norway) tee shirt and a pair of yellow shorts that looked like they might fit an elephant.
Beat that AIB.
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