By Cheshta Rajora
When our not-so-favorite Honey Singh comes up with another “Kudi Saturday Saturday” sorts, all we ‘liberals’ in the town share our anger at the way the singer objectifies women. Our angst reaches another extreme. We know this is outright abominable and so we rise in unison.
But AIB Knockout Roast. Somehow it slid down our throats pretty well. Why?
Oh, come on, it was a ‘joke’. Yes, the genre of comedy allows you to do a lot of things and get away with it. Writers and playwrights since time immemorial have used comedy as the most suitable genre to subvert authorityand highlight the wrongdoings of the State and society.
But when I watched the AIB Roast, I laughed, sure I did, but with hiccups. I laughed, not at the jokes (if there were any), but at the sheer audacity and the ease with which certain things were said. I laughed, but with an unease. A voice in my ears pinched me somewhere. I couldn’t just laugh and sleep off. I struggled to know why I laughed and still felt uncomfortable.
What went wrong with this comedy that it garnered attention more than it deserved?
For many, it was a liberal act. For many other, a progressive one. Liberal. A fancy word. What is ‘liberal’ for the modern society- to be able to create a space for doing ‘anything’ one wishes? Swear words. Yes. Is the ability to use swear-words openly “liberal”? The question here is not of being afraid of our sexuality and bodies. Swear and abusive words, if decoded, are actually a step towards further ‘objectification’ of our body parts. We are reduced to being nothing but a pair of testicles. What is it about swear words that makes the so called “conservatives” and “traditionalists” as we like to label them, uncomfortable, while the fellow “liberals” are openly using the F- word?
Because it hurts. When a roadside-Romeo calls me a “bomb”, it hurts. When I hear a man call another a #*%&%&, it hurts. Why would I want to write “ass” in my examination and not “buttocks”? Language is a slippery road. The larger question is how radical this liberal is? Let’s get this straight. Is being able to call someone various holes in the body openly on the streets, a sign of progression? What ‘radical end’ do we have in mind?
Second. It is said that it was all done for charity. Do we need to call someone a pair of testicles to raise charity? Will the audience only come to pay for charity when it knows it is getting a good deal of “liberal” food for thought?
Third. The show also witnessed a good lot of racial jokes cracked on the “dark” guy. Why? It is like being among a bunch of men who laugh at me, saying you are a woman so you will cook, and I get offended while they try to clean their stands saying, it was in jest, don’t you have a sense of humor? Yes. The first pre-requisite for humor is identification. If you crack a joke that no one understands, your joke will fall flat. So we play safe and crack the old Sardarji jokes or the “Black”-humor, to keep it general! Wow. Progression.
Fourth. We should clap, slow clap for Karan Johar for coming out of the closet. But let’s reconsider this. Number one. Why is someone’s sexuality and sexual preferences of so much concern to us? Number two. How un-closeted is this homosexuality? Why did Karan agree to come out and be able to say something like, “That is my position, Ranveer” in the ‘comic’ space? Should we be glad or concerned?
Fifth. We liberals love our freedom of speech. We celebrate the power of pen and the might of the mike. But who will ensure that not anything and everything is said? Where does this freedom stop and responsibility begin? What all are we going to allow in the public space to operate, in the name of “Freedom of speech”- vulgarity, obscenity, objectification, mental-verbal violence? Because of this we have had the “Birthday sex”, the “Blurred lines” and the “Blue eyes”.
Sixth. The audience. There is a growing audience which is ready to devour every last bit of entertainment from such sources. In the democratic, free, liberal public space, this consumerism and mental and verbal violence is doing something to our minds. With the production and consumption of this consumerism, what progressive, liberal radical nation are we moving towards?
Seventh. Swear words have an inherent violent nature. People, in a fit of anger, undo the last layer of decency by resorting to ‘Mks and the Bks’. In a peaceful state of mind, we never resort to this definition of ‘liberality’.
No matter how outspoken I am about my rights, I am the human who still feels uncomfortable every time “Birthday sex” plays in my gym. Or maybe when a car with a “playboy” sticker at the back crashes past my rickshaw, with loud “Bhen**** Sutta” buzzing out of the woofers.
Cheshta Rajora is pursuing her English (Hons) from Daulat Ram College, Delhi University. Views expressed by the author are personal