Tanmay Bhat’s brand of humour is not alien to our livingrooms

If there is freedom of expression, it brings with it the right to get offended.

Written by Tarishi Verma | Published: May 31, 2016 11:38 am
Tanmay Bhat, Tanmay bhat video, tanmay snapchat, sachin tendulkar, lata mangeshkar, sachin lata video, tanmay bhat new video, aib video, tanmay bhat aib, all india bakchod, aib roast, mumbai police, Titled “Sachin v/s Lata Civil War”, Tanmay posted the video on Facebook on May 26.

The events that have unfolded in the past few days are fantastically preposterous. The (in) famous Tanmay Bhat of comedy group AIB roasted on Snapchat two Bharat Ratnas of the country — Lata Mangeshkar and Sachin Tendulkar. In effect, he staged an expletive-laden conversation between the two where they took a shot at each other.

Snapchat, for those who don’t know, is a social media tool used to tell people about things they care least about, and, alternately, make puppy faces to enforce our cuteness.

One can only chat through images, which are wiped out after a maximum of 10 seconds. You can also put up a story for collective viewing but it will be erased after 24 hours of being posted.

Also read: Tanmay Bhat’s Snapchat video is more work for our daily rage labourers

Recently, Snapchat introduced face swapping where the user can swap their face with an existing photograph. Bhat used this to impose on himself photos of both – Lata Mangeshkar and Sachin Tendulkar – and proceeded to post a video on his Snapchat story – which was viewed by thousands within 24 hours.

No one batted an eyelid except maybe the few brickbats he got on Snapchat itself. The trouble, however, started when he posted the same video on Facebook. Accusations poured at him, alleging defamation and disrespect to the two legends of the country. Interestingly, the rant was started by people of the Hindi film industry.

I have not been a fan of the AIB kind of humour. Whether it is about legends or the common people (with reference to AIB’s recent series on ‘honest’ Indian restaurants and bars), I don’t find insult comedy in good taste.

But the outrage, although uncalled for, is not entirely unbelievable. Sentiments get hurt when people’s heroes, the ones who ought not be touched, those on the highest pedestals, are tossed around. And outrage is the first cousin of social media.

Is this about intolerance of comedy?


These people are educated enough to understand that this is AIB. Their full name states exactly what they do.

Besides, publicity garnered for all involved, it is the selective outrage that is more worrying. It doesn’t seem to hurt these people when Kapil Sharma takes potshots at literally everything and everyone. His comedy is equally crass minus the expletives, but loaded with homophobia, sexism, casteism, racism and any other discriminatory -ism you can think about.

Conveniently ignored, he sits at his throne and carries on undeterred. I’m forced to make a comparison here with Joffrey Baratheon Lannister. A mindless fool who continues to reign because of his blind followers. Except that the death of Sharma’s popularity seems hardly a possibility.

Even if I let go of Kapil Sharma in the name of (for Gods’ sake) freedom of expression, it’s still a dangerous move because his ‘comedy’ trickles into the drawing rooms and is applied to real life situations with the same fervour. What I mean is, he is, in a way, giving more impetus to homophobic, sexist, casteist, racist mindsets, results of which we see in WhatsApp forwards and, eventually, drawing room conversations. If you point that out, “arre yeh toh joke tha yaar” rings in your ears for days.

Tanmay Bhat, in this video, has directed his comedy up, not to the ones around him. It will affect only him. He might lose followers, maybe a few hundreds won’t watch his videos, some may unfollow him on Snapchat. Sachin Tendulkar and Lata Mangeshkar don’t have anything to lose. If anything, fans will respect them even more for having been subjected to crass comedy. The video doesn’t warrant any more than the 10 seconds it has.

Interestingly enough, Bhat came out in support of Kiku Sharda when he was arrested. The comedy fraternity, however, has given him nothing but silence.

Why the police should get involved in any case, is really a matter of great worry. An arrest doesn’t address the right to get offended. It only tightens the noose around free speech – which will benefit no one, not comedians, not us.

If there is freedom of expression, it brings with it the right to get offended. However, it is time we directed our outrage to the right side lest we want to watch news anchors go into the intricate details of social media services.

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  1. S
    May 31, 2016 at 10:39 am
    If this same video was made by Kapil or some other small townee speaking shudh Hindi, no one would have batted an eyelid. But Tanmay is an English speaking city boy, which explains the backlash. It is the same in every sphere of life in India. If you are a big town English speaking guy, you are not going to go far. The IT companies are a good example of the same.
    1. S
      May 31, 2016 at 10:42 am
      These type of comments are a way of life in India. When people fight they talk like this. They even refer to mother/sisters in a bad way. In the North, bhen*** and madar*** is common lingo. Do you see anyone going to court for that?
      1. S
        Sucheta Nadkarni
        May 31, 2016 at 9:51 am
        The expression "Freedom of Speech" has been done to death and then some, in recent times. What is more important, is that the source of this rightful (I think) outrage, be viewed for its demerits.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;While this erstwhile relatively unknown comedian certainly got his 24 hours of fame, what I am curious about is, was it really worth it?lt;br/gt;Let us not confuse 'freedom of speech' with his deplorable attempt at humour. Does it behove any entertainer to denigrate and mock in an abusive manner, two citizens of our nation, who stand very tall and possibly matchless in their respective fields? lt;br/gt;These are two exemplary individuals who have strived tirelessly for perfection and excelled such, that they inspire generations of people.lt;br/gt; Is it right that they be mocked in such a vile manner, under the guise of humour, especially and ironically, when there is nothing even remotely humourous about the video in question? What on earth, possessed him to make it and for what purpose?lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Admittedly, asking for his arrest is going a tad too far, but some precedence needs to be set, in terms of discouraging more such entertainers, with delusions of geur. Our airtime needs to be taken up by far more important issues that afflict our nation.lt;br/gt;Do spare us and our icons, please.
        1. M
          manoj nigam
          Jun 1, 2016 at 1:11 am
          Tarishi you are 100% correct.
          1. A
            May 31, 2016 at 11:03 am
            Which rock do you live under? Whose case is it that IT companies discriminate against English speaking poce? If HMTs get lesser opportunities and are willing to work for less, i see no reason for the employers to drool over useless language skills. For that matter, language skills here refer to mostly accent and slang. Grammar mostly goes for a toss.
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