AIB roast: India again defends its right to be offended

  • Jyoti Sharma Bawa, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Feb 05, 2015 14:29 IST

Offensive, rude, vulgar and distasteful – these were all adjectives that All India Bak**** used to describe their controversial roast. Since you can never play it too safe in India, they then gave a statutory warning: Don’t watch it if you can’t handle this “offensive, rude and vulgar” video where couple of famous grown-ups were going to trade insults with other famous grown-ups. Just to ensure that people get the message, they made their ‘roast master’ Karan Johar repeat the warning.

Four thousand people who watched the roast in Mumbai in December last year got it (they even paid their way). Over 8 million viewers who saw an edited version on YouTube got it as well. So, who didn’t understand the implications of the rather explicit statutory warning? Don’t miss the irony here: It was censor board member Ashok Pandit.

He was outraged by the “offensive, rude, vulgar and distasteful” content of the three-part video and replied in a manner fit for Twitter (which is never used by the ‘impressionable’ youth, it seems). Here’s what this keeper of Indian ethos, cultural mores etcetera etcetera wrote, “Karan Johar could have easily shown his position while performing sex to his mom at home instead of making it public.#AIB Porn Show.” Haww, such language!

The Maharashtra government vowed to take action, ordered inquiries and pledging action. While the cultural department wanted to know if censor certificate was sought before staging the event, state minister said websites selling tickets of the show were under the scanner and details of performance certificates were sought. After launching all these inquiries, the state government said there will be no moral policing. Really believable.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, always at the forefront when it comes to upholding Indian culture, has meanwhile, threatened to stop films of director-producer Karan Johar and actors Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh, who were participants in the programme, from releasing in the state unless they tendered an "unconditional apology".

The MNS is at the forefront when it comes to taking credit as well so when the roast videos were taken off the internet, they claimed it was all their doing.

The Mumbai Congress spokesperson said the content is such that you can’t watch it with your family. Sir, there seems to be some confusion here: Karan Johar was not releasing Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham part 2, he was in a roast which by definition is provocative, insulting and -- going by what its inventors, the Americans, have been dishing out till now -- obscene.

Sarah Silverman, Jeff Ross, Louis CK and Ricky Gervais are just a few of the names which can send our moral police into paroxysms of outrage. But then they are not Indian and not our problem and who cares if their content is on YouTube which can be accessed by anyone, anywhere? Yes, even the impressionable youth whose virtue the Indian politico is always at pains to uphold.

The only complaint one could have with AIB roast was that it was not funny enough. It was mean at times, it was designed to outrage at the cost of some celebs and semi-celebs, it was definitely insulting, it was politically incorrect but one thing it was not was rolling-on-the-floor funny.

Probably to make up for that, our politicos and censor board members have taken it upon themselves to turn what followed into a black comedy. Unfortunately, the joke is on them.

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