I watched the AIB Knockout and I liked it – no, not joking – I liked it.
The first time I heard about any member of this group, it was winters of 2012 when Delhi was shuddering in a spine-chilling cold and Khamba was cracking some hot Mallu porn jokes in my office party; there was a palpable polarization of people – one set of people were jumping, bustling and clapping madly, and the other set of people – who were so offended that they got out of the hall – were frowning at him, abusing him and shivering in the cold. Frankly speaking, I liked his jokes, but I was in a big dilemma whether I should laugh or I should shiver outside and discuss the Lakshman Rekha of jokes. I chose to laugh.
Later, I was told by some of my friends that Khamba, Tanmay, Rohan, Ashish, etc. are celebs of twitter, they have elevated the comedy scene of India far above the mundane Comedy Shows running on television channels. They actually did so – these folks were rude, offensive, acrid and most importantly fresh and creative. They were speaking what I wanted to hear, they were writing what I wanted to be served as humor, and they were fighting to establish what I always wanted my college theater to perform. I attended one show of Rohan in Gurgaon, I heard him insulting a crowd which was desperate to laugh on self-insults – a crowd of young people who wanted to break the façade of censored jokes and swim in vagina and penis with opposite sex, a crowd of corporate elites in their 40s who were bored of banal social jokes, and a crowd of old couples who wanted to laugh without reasons.
I watched AIB knockout show and I deliberately read the reactions of people after the show. As expected, I found that some people loved it so much that they insulted those who disagreed (FOE – becomes Forced Freedom of expression):
So many dislikes/tweets! You mean there are people who didn't like the AIB Roast, and don't get it why it is a big thing? that's quite funny
— somen mishra (@NotSoSnob) January 29, 2015
and some otheres hated it really bad:
Every form of entertainment has a limitation. If you start consuming it frequently, it will also silently start consuming you till you strike a balance or an exit. While these folks – who would very soon start AIB in future were cruising – two very complex events were shaping in parallel:
- The freshness of ch**t, fu**i, be**nch*d, racial, regional, religious jokes were fading under the over dosage of repetitive connotations
- A very unfortunate rape case in Delhi forced everyone to ponder what is wrong with the society; the range of reasons varied from chowmein, mobile phones to mentality and social restrictions
During this phase, the Indian moral dilemma to offend others or feel the guilt of offensive jokes suffered the most. The going to become AIB team folks were also actively expressing their concerns on the social media. They were hailed for writing offensive sexist jokes in the past, but post Delhi rape, they started smashing politicians, babas, maulansa, Chetan Bhagats, Honey Singhs, actors, twitter handles, for stating anything which had sexism in it.
On 30 June 2013, Khamba wrote a piece on Firstpost: How Digvijaya’s ‘tunch maal’ comment helps the fight against sexism in which he talked about patriarchy and sexsim
On 19 Jan 2013, Rohan wrote: I’m going to teach my nephew to always respect women. I’ll argue against chauvinism in every place I meet it (Every place should also include Roast, unless we agree that Roast is an out-of-space thing.
— Rohan (@mojorojo) January 19, 2013
When Time of India was blasted for OMG! Deepika Padukone’s cleavage post
This is how people reacted:
ToI getting some much-needed gaalis by @deepikapadukone for blatant sexism. Aaj Tak making a slide-show "टॉप 10 गुस्साई सेक्सी एक्ट्रेसेस".
— वरुण (@varungrover) September 14, 2014
— Rohan (@mojorojo) September 14, 2014
Appalled….shocked and disgusted at the level of disrespect shown..Deepika or any women in the world cannot and should not stand for this!!
— Karan Johar (@karanjohar) September 14, 2014
Deepika Padukone attended AIB Knockout and she was fine with the public joke that OMG! Deepika Padukone’s cleavage photograph in Times of India was taken by Ranveer Singh.
Rajneesh Kapoor, who would have shown his frustration for any other guys if such joke was cracked, just tweeted a link with Oh boy.
Over the time, my moral dilemma to react on offensive jokes has made a peaceful pact with conditions. I am not astonished until such jokes are created intentionally to annoy/target me or they play with the law of inertia, by which I mean: people try to justify and criticize such jokes based on the reference of inertia.
Irrespective of the definition of ROAST or unfamiliarity of Indians with its format, I enjoyed the show. I enjoyed the good spirit in which everyone took the joke on themselves. Though the overdose of Fat Tanmay and Black Shakya references started appearing forceful and ordinary after a point of time, but the overall show had much more than that.
A painful observation was to see the dual nature of people who, in general, become preachy when sexists, regional, or color are cracked by normal people, but they enjoy such jokes when these elite standups crack that. I didn’t know the meaning of Roast, but I also doubt that most of the people who showed the dual behavior understand it. The other concern is – can we publically broadcast (AIB claimed that the show witnessed millions of youtube hits) what we stood against with just a Disclaimer? Is Ranveer Singh not tampering those complex social layers when he poses for a male casting couch on a stage publicized to millions? Should we accept that Pareneeti Chopra being fucked by 10 folks in front of 4,ooo people joke is less damaging than “tunch maal” reference of Digvijay Singh, just because there was a disclaimer or is stated by a politician?
I finished the show with satisfaction and smile on my face, but the old dilemma did sprout up again: “While it’s important to push the boundaries, are we sure that by cracking such jokes, the right message is getting delivered?”