Filmmaker Ashoke Pandit, a member of the new Censor Board, sparked a controversy on Tuesday with his tweet about director Karan Johar’s appearance on AIB Knockout, which numerous social media users said was crass and warranted his removal from the panel.
Taking a potshot at the director’s turn in the expletive-laced show in Mumbai, Pandit tweeted: “Karan Johar could have easily shown his position while performing sex to his mom at home instead of making it public. #AIB Porn Show.”
In another tweet, Pandit questioned whether police had given permission to All India Bakchod to stage the event “even after they knew what B stands for?” He asked in another tweet if the script of the show – which he described as a “stage play” - was approved by authorities.
The response on Twitter was immediate, with scores of users criticising Pandit, who is best known for his work on television.
Salman Anees Soz, a spokesman for the opposition Congress, demanded that Pandit should be removed from the Censor Board for his remarks. “Filmmaker & censor board member @ashokepandit tweets filth about @karanjohar. Is this acceptable? He should quit or be removed,” Soz said in a tweet.
Sachin Kalbag, editor of Mid-Day, tweeted that he “did not expect this from you. Deeply saddened.” Kalbag further tweeted that people knew what to watch with their families and even the organisers of the AIB Roast had said it “was for adults only”.
Numerous Twitter users described Pandit’s tweet as crass and offensive and questioned his continuing as a member of the Censor Board. User Sharmishtha Pal posted: “Wowwwwww.. just wowwwww!! And here we knew that India was such a liberal and tolerant and progressive nation!”
Nandita Saikia, a lawyer, tweeted, “It would be too much to hope that Ashoke Pandit is not in a position to find content by anyone else (too) obscene to air/exhibit, right?”
Journalist Subir Ghosh was more scathing. “The irony that comes out is that @ashokepandit badly needs to be censored. #BleepBleep #KhiKhi”
Some defended Pandit, saying the AIB show was “offensive”.
Pandit was recently inducted into the Censor Board after former chairperson Leela Samson and nine other members quit the panel. Critics of the BJP have accused it of packing the board with people who are members of the party or close to it.
The AIB roast, videos of which have been posted on YouTube, evoked mixed responses from viewers, including consternation from people who are not used to the show’s no-holds-barred approach to humour. Johar, who was the “roastmaster”, kicked off the proceedings by announcing, "Let the filth begin."
Everybody got skewered in this roast - from the two Bollywood actors to panel members to stars like Deepika Padukone, Sonakshi Sinha, Anurag Kashyap and Alia Bhatt sitting in the front row. Even audience members got their share of volleys.
What is a roast? Consider it the exact opposite of a toast. The guest of honour is skewered as a lot of fun is had by all present. There are no holy cows and everybody is fair game. The quality of jokes? The filthier, the better as long as they are funny.
After a lot of editing, this "rude, filthy, offensive" video (AIB’s words, not ours) is now on Youtube for all to see.
Karan Johar - who was introduced as Prop, Bollywood Inc - set the tone when he introduced all those present. Rajeev Masand was called a “sellout”, Raghu Ram a “loud, classless tumour”, and Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor “just about famous”.
Despite the caution from AIB, a Mumbai resident on Monday filed a police complaint against Johar, Arjun and Ranveer for using “filthy and abusive language” on the show.
Police launched an inquiry following the complaint. The Maharashtra government started a separate inquiry but Cultural Affairs Minister Vinod Tawde later clarified there would be no “moral policing”.
“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,” Tawde tweeted.