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The Hallmark Of Satire…

The things Jaspal Bhatti and Flop Show revealed are everyday events that we don't even acknowledge now. Going forward his memories would inspire, and even help, us for God knows we sure need that to get along, writes Gautam Chintamani.

brunch Updated: Oct 26, 2012 17:38 IST
Gautam Chintamani

To imagine something like Flop Show, the iconic 1980s television satire, in this day and age wouldn't be easy. Back then it was an almost impossible task to think that a state owned television channel, and also the only one out there, would allow someone to poke fun at all things official on a weekly basis. Jaspal Bhatti not only did just that but also did it in such a manner that even after two decades Flop Show remains the very definition of satire in this country.

The time Flop Show debuted wasn't an easy for Indians. Forty years after Independence the nation was angry at the false promises and the misfired plans. Corruption wasn't as large as it is today but decadence had set in and somewhere the generation that was running the show started thinking of themselves as gods. The common man was the only victim and even those who were seemingly fighting for him seemed to more interested in becoming a little friendlier version of those who were tormenting the aam aadmi. It was in such a scenario that Bhatti, a man as common and nameless as the one on the street, made a weekly appearance on prime time television with a socio-cultural problem that troubled the common man. Bhatti's characters and their antics - an employee who fudges his medical bills, a telephone linesman from hell, a sarkari babu who uses official resources to find his lost dog, a chief guest who reaches a function on time only to be embarrassed and such - were so real that even though they nudged the very people who were watching, the show was an instant hit.



Jaspal


In an era when television production was largely limited to Delhi and then Bombay humor had lost the traditional satirical sting as seen in works like Raag Darbari. The limited focus on India's upcoming metros had rendered comedy almost like an assembly line till Bhatti bought his unique perception of seeing things as they were. It wouldn't be incorrect to say that before Flop Show many of us had no clue about satire. Even though the series had just 10 episodes its legacy continues to this day. Till date one can't look beyond the former electrical engineer turned satirical genius when it comes to humor. Jaspal Bhatti's greatness goes beyond his everyman being one of us. His true significance lies in how he unforgivingly exposed the malice that has come to define us with humor that left us with a little hope in spite of everything. The things Bhatti and Flop Show revealed are everyday events that we don't even acknowledge now. Going forward Jaspal Bhatti's memories would inspire, and even help, us for God knows we sure need that to get along.

Gautam Chintamani is an award-winning writer/filmmaker with over a decade of experience across print and electronic mediums.

(The views expressed by the author are personal)

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