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As Bollywood attacks Tanmay Bhat, Indian comedians raise their shields

Hindustan Times logo Hindustan Times 31/05/2016

Comedian Tanmay Bhat’s Snapchat video titled Sachin vs Lata Civil War did not tickle many funny bones and instead drew a lot of flak from people who felt offended. Bollywood celebs tweeted strongly against Bhat for mocking Sachin Tendulkar and making comments against Lata Mangeshkar, like “Jon Snow died, so you should also die” and “Your face looks like someone has kept you in water for eight days (sic).”

Actor Anupam Kher tweeted, “I am 9 times winner of #BestComicActor. Have a great sense of humour. But This’s NOT humour. #Disgusting&Disrespectful.”

Actor Riteish Deshmukh wrote, “Am absolutely shocked. Disrespect is not cool and neither is it funny.”

By the time this paper went to press, responses and reactions from everyone, including political parties, have been floating online, the video had received more than 3 lakh views. But there are some who call it freedom of expression.

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After seeing the video, comedian Neeti Palta says, “This isn’t an issue of national security! Bachpan se we have seen people in our society making fun of a mota bachcha. This is Indian humour.” Mention about the Twitter reactions of actors such as Riteish Deshmukh and she replies, “These guys do movies that make lewd jokes on a woman’s anatomy… How can they suddenly turn around and say ‘Looks pe joke nahin karna chahiye’?”

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Some comedians such as Rajneesh Kapoor believe that “Humour has to be politically incorrect. Why can you not criticise them? Just because they are Bharat Ratnas?”
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Kapoor adds, “The entire thing started at 3 am at Snapchat – which is used by youngsters – when Tanmay was perhaps getting bored and he made a video which he thought was funny. But who decides that who can be insulted and who can’t be?”

But to call a spade a spade isn’t that easy in the presently volatile situation. Comedian Maheep Singh says, “For a 20-year-old Mahatma Gandhi can be a butt of joke but for someone who was alive during his political movement, joking about him can be unacceptable. Freedom of expression is supreme in a democracy. But would you be willing to accept an off-coloured remark about your father or your mother just for a laugh? If you are a comedian, you are in a position to express people’s angers and frustrations. This power of jibe might cross paths of some people who are at the not-so-funny side of a joke. Making obnoxious, offensive or funny videos also does not solve the problem. If you are against this kind of humour, do not make them popular by sharing them and talking ill of them because negativity travels faster. You ought to know that by now.”

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Hope these quotes don’t fuel further controversy!

Recommended: All you want to know about the Tanmay Bhat controversy

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