Safe return to school: Simulation experiment held in many schools    RSLF, EAF continue executing 'Tabuk-5' exercise    600K probate applications electronically notarized in a year    Saudi Academy of Civil Aviation launches Airport Service Diploma program    Real Madrid defeats Bilbao, wins the Supercopa title    Djokovic leaves Australia after losing deportation appeal    Kuwaiti completes 7 volcanic summits challenge with Antarctica's Mount Sidley    Ministry of Sports announces details of AlUla-hosted 2nd edition of Saudi Tour 2022    Jordan Records 3,493 New Cases of Coronavirus    COVID-19 cases number is unprecedented, but critical cases are lower than previous stages    Chopard ambassador Jacky Ickx in Riyadh    Two Saudi Players Participate for First Time in Winter Games    Russia Confirms 29,230 New Cases of COVID-19    Civil Defense urges all to be careful as inclement weather continues in some areas    KSrelief Distributes More Than 63 Tons of Food Baskets in Taiz, Yemen    Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources Announces Conclusion of Future Minerals Forum with Wide Local, International Participation    National eLearning Center to Organize International Conference on "eLearning for Human Capability Development"    Saudi female engineer wins international award for inventing a chip that detects cancer    SFDA Organizes "Coaching Day" Event to Support Leadership Development    Governor of Riyadh Receives Ambassador of Qatar    Police in Italy see red after being given pink facemasks    UN stands ready to provide support after volcano eruption and tsunami in Tonga    Hostages freed after 10-hour stand-off at Texas synagogue    GCC Secretary General to Discuss Tomorrow in Brussels Ways to Strengthen GCC-EU Relations    Palestinian Foreign Ministry: Int'l Silence on Israeli Settlement Destroys Two-State Solution    "Hiking" Trail Events on Farasan Island Conclude    Putin and Xi set to meet on opening day of Beijing Olympics    Saudi Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai celebrates 'Year of Saudi Coffee 2022'    S. Korean president arrives in Dubai for economic diplomacy on Mideast swing    World Bank raises Saudi Arabia's 2022 growth forecast to 4.9%    Saudi Arabia's box office jumps 95% in 2021, hits $238 million sales    Secretaries General of Local and Regional Federations in Asia Concludes Conference    SAMF President Highly Commends Saudi Arabia Dakar Rally 2022    Makkah Governor Patronizes Closing Ceremony of Saudi Arabia Dakar Rally 2022    ITFC Tops Bloomberg 2021 Global Islamic Financing League Tables as Best Bookrunner and Mandated Lead Arranger    IATA Renews International Accreditation of Saudi Academy of Civil Aviation    Reflections on celebration of Christmas    Royal Commission for AlUla to Hold Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup 2022, Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo    Saudi Arabia's Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai Organizes a Dance Theatrical Show for Children    Saudi Arabia rebuffs UN resolution on 'sexual orientation'    Kabir Khan eyes on joint Indian – Saudi film projects    Saudi Film Commission Announces Incentives for Local and International Producers    "Ithra" Unveils Winner of Ithra Prize for Arts at Diriyah Biennale    Bollywood superstar Salman Khan to dazzle Riyadh Season on Dec. 10    Pilgrims Perform Dhuhr and Asr Prayers at Arafat Holy Site    Council of Senior Scholars: Muslim Brothers' Group Don't Represent Method of Islam, rather only Follows its Partisan Objectives, Violating our Graceful Religion    Eid Al-Adha Prayer Performed at the Grand Holy Mosque    Pilgrims Perform Dhuhr and Asr Prayers in Arafat Holy Site    







Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.



Are Indians unable to laugh at themselves?
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 30 - 11 - 2021

"We don't have a sense of humor," quips stand-up comic Sanjay Rajoura, in the opening scene of I Am Offended, a documentary on humor in India.
He's possibly both right and wrong. Indians have a tangled relationship with humor, reports BBC.
They love a staple of family and community jokes. Political comedy - gags and mimicry - go down well. Young, liberal audiences prefer hard-hitting satire.
Yet people continue to enjoy body shaming and disability jokes in tone-deaf Bollywood comedies. They laugh aloud to TV comedy awash with slapstick gags and sexist humor.
Cuss words don't work with his audiences, says popular Hindi language comic Deepak Saini, who does more than 200 shows a year. Yet Vir Das, one of India's most well-known comedians, says his "filthiest, most obscene show of the year" is one he does for the Rotary Club for 65-year-olds and above.
Clearly Indians consume a diverse range of comedy - from the cringeworthy to the ribald to the acerbic - across ages. "To each his own. All kinds of humor co-exist in India. It's a big country," says Balraj Ghai, who owns The Habitat, a popular stand-up venue in Mumbai.
Comedy has moved from films and poetry sessions to cafés, clubs, bars, corporate shows, festivals, TV, YouTube and streaming services. A single comedy cafe in Mumbai hosts some 65 shows a month. Fans mob comics and take selfies with them. Many comedians have millions of followers on Twitter.
So, on the face of it, it appears that all's well.
Except, it isn't. Last fortnight, a monologue by Das in Washington DC triggered a storm of protest, prompting complaints to police and censure from peers. Das said it was "about the duality of two very separate Indias" that he lived in; his critics scorned him for vilifying the country.
Munawar Faruqui, a Muslim comedian who spent a month in jail this year for a joke, has now hinted at quitting comedy after a dozen shows were canceled in Mumbai and Bangalore following protests from right-wing Hindu groups. Kunal Kamra, a stand-up comic who has done savage impersonations of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, fell foul of Supreme Court judges when he cracked a joke about them.
The Habitat was first targeted in 2017 by a bunch of youngsters who wanted Ghai to remove a comic from his line-up because he had cracked jokes about Shivaji, a 17th Century warrior king who is now a symbol of Hindu identity.
Again, in 2020, another group entered the cafe, shouting and screaming. They wanted the organizers to take down a comedienne, who they said had insulted the same king.
In October, activists of a right-wing group turned up at the cafe seeking a ban on Faruqui's shows. Ghai's employees have received anonymous threatening calls. "There is a worry that all this outrage can translate into a threat to life and liberty. It kills your hopes and frustrates you," Ghai says.
Audiences can be touchy too. Family jokes almost always fetch laughs. Yet comedienne Neeti Palta faced criticism about "denigrating" the family when she cracked a joke about corporal punishment; and comic Amit Tandon was called a sexist when he joked about his wife. In 2017, a Sikh lawyer petitioned the Supreme Court seeking a ban on jokes about the community. (The court refused, saying it could not "lay down moral guidelines" for citizens.)
A thriving "outrage industry", fuelled by social media, is not helping matters. People are taking offense to things "much quicker now," Palta says. Fringe groups - often right-wing and mainly made up of jobless young men seeking attention - usually end up disrupting shows. It's an unsettling time for comedians who are trying to explore sensitive themes.
"In India, there's a movement going on. If you crack a joke, we will crack you," Palta punned at a show recently. "When I started [comedy] my challenge was [how to frame] the shortest sentence to get to a punchline. Now my stress is that my punchline might lead to a sentence," she said, alluding to comedians being thrown into prison.
In many ways it appears to be the best of times, and the worst of times for Indian humor.
Cloying family and community jokes are fine, but don't poke fun at religion, national symbols and deities. Tandon says he avoids even "simple references" to religion these days. Faruqui, many believe, is being targeted because of his religion. It would be also nearly impossible, they say, for a Dalit - formerly known as untouchables and placed on the lowest rung of a rigid Hindu caste system - comic to poke fun at upper castes.
Rajoura, a member of a musical satire show, Aisi Taisi Democracy (This Screwed-Up Democracy), believes that many Indians have become touchy about comedy because they are "ill-informed and unsure about their place in the world".
"Ideology has become more important than having a few laughs. How can humor thrive in an environment when you are constantly looking over your shoulder?" Jaideep Verma, director of I am Offended, says.
Comedians like Saini don't believe things are as dire. Comics should not avoid politics but "be balanced," he told me. "There are right-wing and left-wing comedians. Audiences want balance. Also a lot of English-speaking comedy is simply made up of abuse and cuss words. That doesn't work in the [Indian] mainstream."
It's all a bit ironic because India has a rich history of humor. Star medieval court jesters like Birbal and Tenali Rama regaled audiences with their quicksilver wit. Traditional wedding songs have been bawdy and fun. Khushwant Singh, the country's most well-known humourist, wrote a hugely popular syndicated column for decades called With Malice towards One And All.
During a recent open-mic night near Delhi, an audience member asked Palta to "dig deeper" with her humor. In a mirthless moment, she returned to her deepest fears.
"I said, if I go any deeper I will tunnel my way into a prison". — BBC


Clic here to read the story from its source.