Outrage over Tanmay Bhat's Sachin Tendulkar-Lata Mangeshkar parody silly
After the Tanmay Bhat Snapchat joke mimicking Lata Mangeshkar and Sachin Tendulkar ran into stiff criticism (read Firstpost's story on the controversy here) on social media — and offline as well, with political parties like the Shiv Sena, MNS and NCP — we asked noted comedian Sorabh Pant for his (rather refreshing) take on the issue. Read on:
What were your thoughts on seeing the backlash to Tanmay Bhat's video?
Sorabh: This kind of reaction has just gotten boring now. It was off something he did on Snapchat. Snapchat! That's what people are getting worked up about. Frankly, I haven't seen the video because, I'm so exhausted with the outrage. I have others things to do. Obviously, most Indian political parties don't. They're just looking to find the moral high ground on any issue — just so they can pretend they have ethics.
Is the level of outrage we’re seeing over Tanmay's joke warranted?
It's predictable. Again, I'm not commenting on the joke itself because I haven't seen it. And, since it's a video on Snapchat, I'm pretty sure it's silliness, which is the essence of that particular social media. I prefer watching actual and better videos by AIB and others. Than this.
Is there such a thing as taking a joke too far in comedy?
Yes, which is the point of comedy, in some cases. Some people like to push the boundaries and good for them. But, the problem is if you draw the line for one person's feelings, you draw the line for anyone's! After a point you can't joke on anything except cats. And, maybe carrots. Or, something. Because, cats and carrots are uncontroversial.
Do we lack a sense of humour — or are we just touchy about the people we think of as cultural/national icons?
It shows you how few Indian heroes we think we have. We have many, many heroes in India but, just because they aren't in the entertainment or political field we ignore them. I think if as Indians we started treating other people as bigger heroes — like Narayan Murthy or the scientists at Isro or even a Raghuram Rajan as bigger heroes — and, they are, we'd not be so monopolised in our adulation for a handful of people.
Are there any 'holy cows' that you have when it comes to your routines? Are there issues you simply cannot joke about in India?
As a comedian myself, I tend to do a bit of self-censorship. Everyone does. Some have different levels of self-censorship. Like any group of people, comedians also have different lines they don't want to cross. And, we support each other's lines.
But the list of things you can't joke about in India is getting longer and longer. Again, I'm not defending the joke itself — because, I haven't seen it. It was probably silly and juvenile, which is the point of something like a Snapchat. We're turning a molehill into a mountain into a political agenda into a tower of stupidity. It's been 24 hours and I'm already bored of this topic. As people should have been 12 seconds after the video came out.
By the way, in the last month — Varun Grover raised money for farmers in drought-hit Maharashtra, East India Comedy raised a similar amount for Nana Patekar's foundation as well. Additionally, EIC and me also donated money to Olympic Gold Quest — an organisation that helped Indian win 4 out of 6 medals at the Olympics. We're talking to others to do more for Indian athletes.
And, an EIC Outrage video that we did on Indian athletes helped Shiva Kesavan, India's first luger at the Winter Olympics, get corporate sponsorship.
Obviously, all of that is unimportant. And, let's completely gloss over that.
It's our duty as influencers to help induce change in India. But, who cares about that? Instead let's focus on some silly Snapchat.