There Is No Such Thing As Bad Publicity Except Your Own Obituary

Tanmay Bhat-Sachin Lata Civil War

There is a thin line that separates comedy and insensitivity. Tanmay Bhat might not have been able to keep himself balanced in that line and we wouldn’t blame him for that considering his weight 😛

Yes, I did indulge in body shaming here. But, who cares? He did take part in a roast where almost every joke on him was about his weight. I am sure he doesn’t mind if I make a lighthearted banter about his weight. You felt it wasn’t funny? It doesn’t matter to me. I have freedom of speech. If I can’t make people laugh through proper jokes, I would use profanity, body shaming etc. Humour gives me a facade of moral invisibility to statements “made in jest”. You have no right to object to it. If you are objecting, you are violating my freedom of speech.

It has been a considerable amount of time since I have been in the news. I desperately need some attention. How can I achieve that without any hard work? Well, let me mock some personality who is treated as an icon and has a fan following nothing short of being called as worshipers. I will make those icons use cuss words, I will make them use obscene gestures, that will create a shock quotient among the viewing public. Being irreverent is cool these days and I will be disrespectful to the maximum extent possible. That will give me my 15 minutes of fame. It will be the perfect cannon fodder for the shares, likes and comments in social media and the ideal way to get some cheap laughs.

But, I am a comedian. Aren’t I supposed to genuinely make people laugh? Yeah, but why bother? If I can use second-rate mimicry and third-rate writing coupled with some cuss words and be trending in the news, why should I make the effort to make people laugh through some good old humour? I will just make some Game of Thrones references and show my followers how chic and urbane I am.

The followers of the celebrities I will make a mockery of, will raise a great hue and cry, some political parties will get the cue of free publicity and file FIR’s against me or verbally or physically threaten me and this act of stupidity by political parties will completely overshadow the fact that I humiliated and mocked some of the so-called living legends. The media will have its share of the pie as well where news anchors will shout at the top of their voices about how political parties are ignoring pressing issues like drought and yet ironically have an hour-long debate analyzing the repercussions of my actions.

But, won’t I lose followers? Nah, I don’t think so. The westernized India, who believe that it is cool to say anything about anyone would still follow me because most of them are impressionable and would do anything to look “cool” among their peers. The other India, or the “traditional India”, in any case doesn’t follow me and in any case who gives two hoots about them, they are old and about to die soon anyways.

As for me, I will get my time in the limelight till the next breaking news hits the country and whenever I feel the need for attention again I know what the tried and tested formula is. Also, as they say “There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary.”

Advertisements

Citius, Altius, Fortius To Our Athletes & Some Goodwill Towards Salman

salmangoodwill

There has been a lot of hoopla recently regarding Salman Khan’s appointment as goodwill ambassador for India for the Rio Olympics. Brand ambassadors, celebrity endorsers, goodwill ambassadors etc. Whenever I hear these words, I am reminded of the marketing group project days of my MBA. Whenever we had to decide for the brand ambassador for any product or service, the choices that we finalized seemed so clichéd that it was borderline cringe worthy. Bollywood celebrities are typically the first set of people who come to mind whenever we think of ambassadors. Along with Bollywood, Cricket would probably be the other most popular field when it comes to celebrities being ambassadors for a product. Almost every other television ad these days has either Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Virat Kohli or M.S Dhoni in them. Bollywood and cricket in our country are almost treated like two religions and their stars are worshiped as idols.

Bollywood and Cricket had decided in 2007 that joining hands would be a great win-win situation for both the parties. The end-product was something called IPL that has been wooing audiences and will complete 10 years in 2017. Despite all the controversies and decline in viewership over the years, the event has survived and will probably continue to thrive. 3 of the 8 IPL teams in the initial edition in 2007 were owned by Bollywood celebrities. One of them, Kolkata Knight Riders, owned by Shahrukh Khan struggled in its initial years to get any positive results in the field but was still among the most profitable teams around despite its on-field debacles. This further re-iterated the fact that Bollywood and Cricket was going to be an unbeatable combination which will entertain the country for the coming years. Gradually the concept of leagues started going into other sports as well. As of today, we have leagues for the sports of football, hockey, badminton, kabaddi, wrestling etc. Most of them haven’t reached the magnitude of their cricket counterpart but still have made a successful start. The soccer league called as Indian Super League has owners of different teams comprising of many Bollywood celebrities like Ranbir Kapoor, John Abraham, Abhishek Bachchan and its popularity is on the upswing. We have even seen Salman Khan in the promos of Pro Kabaddi league and as a neutral viewer it certainly attracts me if I see a familiar face promoting a sport that does not have the recognition as some of its counterparts in terms of audience viewership.

Now coming back to the issue of Salman Khan’s appointment as the ambassador, my first reaction to the appointment was that it would be a perfect platform for Salman Khan to promote his upcoming movie Sultan where he plays the role of a wrestler. I am an active follower of most sports but my first instinct to this appointment was that this would not give any benefit to the sports-persons who will be giving their best to bring laurels to the country. But then, I realized even for someone like me who follows sports actively, I can hardly recollect the names of any Indian wrestler except Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt, the latter of whom has openly criticized the appointment of Salman as the goodwill ambassador in Twitter. Dutt has received support from sporting quarters in the form of Milkha Singh who have also advocated that a sportsperson should be a goodwill ambassador instead of a Bollywood celebrity who has no connection with sports. The counter points put up in the form of several tweets by Salman’s father Salim Khan are laughable and stupid to say the least (Both Salman and his father Salim seriously need a good digital public relations team to handle their twitter handle to save us from their obnoxious tweets). In one tweet, Salim Khan has attributed Milkha Singh’s ticket to fame to the fact that a movie was made on him by Bollywood and in another he has glorified the sporting credentials of his son regarding why he is the perfect fit for the role. The reasons given by Salman’s father definitely do not do any justice as to why Salman should be the goodwill ambassador but I feel if the intentions of both IOA and Salman Khan are right, this appointment can be a win-win situation for both.

All of us remember Chak De India and the impact that it had on hockey and just sports in general. Even after so many years we still hear its title song being played in hockey tournaments where India takes part. Also, who can forget the song reverberating at the Wanderers stadium when India won the inaugural T-20 Cricket World Cup. The marriage of Bollywood and Sports works like magic in India in garnering eyeballs and all of us would definitely be in agreement over the fact that we need Olympic sports in India need to get more eyeballs. If it needs a Bollywood celebrity to do that, then so be it. If it means that many deserving ex and current Indian sportsmen miss out on being the goodwill ambassador, then let it be. It is a small price to pay for making sure that there is enough awareness about Olympic sports in the country.

Team India had a decent outing in 2012 Olympics winning 6 medals (2 silvers and 4 bronze). This year the target should be to double that tally or at least reach double digits and win a couple of gold medals as well. Like last time, our medal hopes would again hinge on sports like shooting, wrestling, badminton, boxing, archery, lawn tennis, archery etc. It is not a co-incidence that 3 or 4 of the sports listed above have their own professional leagues in the country now with a lot investment from Bollywood celebrities who act as team owners. We have had 2 super hit movies made in Bollywood on 2 national sports icons, Milkha Singh and Mary Kom.

Hence, as long as the intention of IOA and Salman Khan are correct and both contribute their best and fulfill their responsibility in creating awareness about the event and Olympic sports in general, I don’t see why the appointment of Salman should be a problem. In the midst of all this, if his movie gets promoted, then it shouldn’t be made out as an issue. Who knows, maybe the movie Sultan would have the same effect on wrestling as Chak De India had on hockey. Our next Sushil Kumar or Yogeshwar Dutt might just be inspired to take up wrestling as a career after watching the movie. Yes, Salman Khan does have a tainted past but he has done his fair share of goodwill towards the society as well. Whether that goodwill was done to mitigate the effects of his tainted past is a different story altogether.

Salman Khan might be the figurative goodwill ambassador for India but in reality each athlete representing India should be a goodwill ambassador for us. They will be representing this proud country of ours in a global platform watched by billions. The fact that they have reached there despite the lack of infrastructure and the adversities faced by non-cricketing sports persons in India itself shows their perseverance and dedication to follow their passion and fulfill their dreams. So, let’s not shift the focus away from the hard work put in by our athletes who have qualified for the Olympics by arguing over this mundane topic about which sphere should the goodwill ambassador be from.

Let us all resolve our indifferences and stand by the Olympic motto of Citius, Altius, Fortius. Translated to English, it means “Faster, Higher, Stronger.” But, we should also remember that it stands for the ideal of striving to be better not only in sports but also as human beings.

New Year Resolutions: Life Goals or Pipe Dreams

New_Year_Resolution

So it’s that time of the year again where we look back upon the year passed by either with jubilation for the milestones achieved or with regrets about the opportunities lost. With a new year down the corner most of us would be ready with a new set of resolutions. But do we stay honest with ourselves with respect to our resolutions?

Think about it. How many of your resolutions of past years have you undertaken with resolute will? Be it heading to the gym to get fitter, spending more time with your family, quitting smoking or drinking, none of these resolutions we take up every year last more than a month or in some cases even lesser. Why do we fail to live up to the promises we make to ourselves? We usually go out of our way to keep up to the promises made to our loved ones but we often fail to honour the promise which we make to ourselves. Are we not strong willed or are we just outright lazy?

From my personal experiences, I can say that there ought to be more reasons than lack of will power and laziness for not honouring one’s own resolutions. What I have observed is that at different stages in life, people have different priorities, so a resolution that couldn’t be completed in the current year can’t just be procrastinated for the coming year again because the circumstances in your life have changed since last year. I don’t know if there are similar people like me but for me during a particular time frame there has to be one sole objective and everything I do during that time frame should be in some way related to achieving that objective. I have that dogged determination that this is my current objective and anything I do has to be somewhat related in helping me achieve that. Anything not aligned with that objective is either a distraction or an unnecessary wastage of time.

Let’s say for example, when I decided to write a blog I decided that I will not write fiction or poetry which I had done earlier but I would rather give my take on current affairs because it would help me prepare for job interviews. But having tried that, I realized by not writing what I am most comfortable writing, I am just curbing my natural instincts and like many other people pretending to be someone I am not. I am slowly realizing that unlike the lessons in management everything in life can’t be analyzed in cost-benefit terms. Some things are done just for the sake of doing it, they are done because they make you complete or they just define who you are and how it makes you different from others. Just like that, I feel our resolutions shouldn’t be with respect to achieving an end objective but should be an end by themselves. Don’t just head to the gym to get fit because you would get better marriage prospects; get fit because a healthier lifestyle is a happier lifestyle.

Every resolution we make involves some amount of change in our behavior or routine and change is something we never embrace with open arms. So, we have to ask ourselves first. Are we ready for the change? Or are we just obliged to change our behavior just because it is a new year and we should do something different? We have to be really honest with ourselves in answering these 2 questions because that would determine whether our resolutions turn into a routine or whether it just ceases to be a pipe dream.

It Is Your Choice. But, It’s A Very Poor Choice Of Words.

MyChoice

“My Choice” has been an abused and overused response from “Generation Y” for anything that doesn’t adhere to the conventional standards of behavior which has been set by the earlier generations.  Now when these 2 words are preceded with the words “My Body” then it is bound to ruffle some feathers especially in a conservative society like ours.

Vogue magazine came out with a video under their ‘Vogue Empower’ initiative series named “My Choice” with Deepika Padukone as the protagonist and as many as 98 other women including celebrities from the film industry like Anupama Chopra, Zoya Akhtar, Nimrat Kaur etc. The video aims to bring awareness to the cause of women’s empowerment nationwide. It is ironic to see a fashion magazine and celebrities from an industry who make their money by reinforcing sexist standards of beauty on women preach about women empowerment. The video was probably made with the right intention but the execution of ideas and the statements used turned out to be rhetoric and didn’t drive home the point which I believed the video was supposed to do.

If the execution of the video was poor the reactions and the responses to the video were equally immature. There is no doubt about the fact that some statements in the video like “my choice whether to have sex outside of marriage” do not reflect the true essence of women empowerment at all but just to take a few excerpts out of a video and blowing it out of proportion was not a very mature thing to do. My interpretation of the video’s intended message was that there should not be different guidelines for women and men in the society. A woman should have the choice to wear any kind of clothes she likes; she should have the choice to binge on any food she likes without bothering about her figure; she should have the choice to marry as per her own conditions and whenever she is ready; she should have the choice to love temporarily, or to lust forever. What our society does is denies her that choice.

The angst of the people might be justified if you consider specific statements from the video but as a message in its entirety, it was a pretty strong video. What surprises me is that statements like “having sex outside of marriage” and “to have your baby or not” boils the blood of certain sections of the society but when Vogue Empower had shown a commercial titled “Ladke nahi rote” starring Madhuri Dixit which ends with a shot of a man about to tear up while hitting his wife, there were no reactions from anyone whatsoever. If the bloodied face of the girl being a victim of domestic violence from her husband didn’t instill a chill down your spine but rather an innocuous remark by a movie celebrity did, then I believe we all should take a strong and hard look at ourselves in the mirror. The “My Choice” video was only a logical extension to the “Ladke nahi rote” video where it was further re-iterated that instead of binding women to rules and restrictions, it is necessary for us to educate the men to learn how to respect women and give them equal rights.

It is also the responsibility of women to treat this “equal rights” terminology in the right manner. Yes ladies, “you can’t have your cake and eat it too”. Women shouldn’t use equal rights or special privileges granted to them at several places, according to their own convenience.  In fact, I believe that everyone should be treated as equal. If we can’t resist on judging people then we should judge or evaluate everyone on the same framework. Why can’t a man cry? It is perfectly natural to cry. Why can’t a girl dress as she likes to? It is perfectly natural to groom yourself to look the most delightful. Let’s learn to respect the women in our lives; because lack of doing so has caused all of this malice.

Let’s encourage efforts towards woman empowerment even if the message is not conveyed in the subtlest manner possible. To Vogue, I would say, “It is your choice” but as the Joker from the Dark Knight would say “It’s  a very poor choice of words”.

A Heady Commotion

uncertainty-of-life

No reason for anguish no reason for pain,

Trying to find some lucidity but it all seems in vain.

Looking at the faces with every emotion feigned,

Rather than unveiling the masks, I prefer to take the blame.

 

Feelings running short of being expressed,

Decipher life so much that you end up possessed.

Fears remain unanswered and concerns remain unaddressed,

But no stone is left unturned to ensure that everyone is impressed.

 

No place to go, no acquaintances to find.

If only I could have caged the mind.

Tired of being nice, tired of being kind,

Disgusted of always being put on the grind.

 

Neither that hurt to turn rebellious,

Nor that calm to ignore it as frivolous.

Comprehending people shall always remain tedious,

Two-faced sycophants with souls so hideous.

 

People say that each of us is here to serve a purpose.

What I see is the ringmaster running a circus.

Even if you are caged you are supposed to entertain,

Without the assurance of anything to gain.

Dancing to the tunes of a future so uncertain,

Makes you wonder why you treat your emotions with such disdain.

Should We Raise A Toast To The Roast?

AIB

For any nation to be considered as a democracy, freedom of speech is imperative and humour comes under the purview of that. Humour teaches you to shut the non-liberal and keep up the liberal in you. It could take many forms such as slapstick, satire, racist or even profanity. Humour based on profanity primarily makes use of cuss words to generate some cheap laughs. Now, what exactly are cuss words? Urban dictionary defines them as “Words that have been deemed inappropriate and you don’t normally hear in public or “normal” conversation. Fun to use and you get to watch people over-react when you scream “F**K” at the top of your lungs”. Now the definition in the internet didn’t really have the two asterix in the middle of the capitalized word in the above sentence. So, why did I censor it? It’s not like after putting two asterix, you don’t really understand the meaning of the word. Do you? So, what difference does it make if I write the complete word instead without any censorship?

All guys would definitely admit to having a circle of friends who use these cuss words among themselves to ridicule, mock, insult or humiliate each other but not in the actual intended sense of it. These expletives, when exchanged with someone, are not really meant in their literal meaning but just as a cool lingo. Now whether it is actually cool to mouth cuss words is a subjective and different topic altogether. But in almost every case these words are just used for friendly banter.

AIB uploaded their roast video on YouTube. There are loads of videos on YouTube that some people may find offensive. Do we take YouTube down? No, we choose to not see those videos. Now the reason for the uproar is that the video had dirty, explicit and demeaning comments which ironically the recipients of the comments were quite sporting enough to accept as humour and friendly banter. But, the very purpose of a roast is to insult. Saying a roast has dirty comments is like saying an adult rated movie has violence or explicit scenes in it. The question that everyone is asking now is “Does the roast genre itself demand profanity?”. Can an insult be sugar-coated in polite terms? Did the AIB roast actually degrade, corrupt or injure the public morality and morals”? I refuse to believe that culture, heritage, beliefs and religion are so weak in our country that they get affected by jokes and mundane comments.

Having said that, it should have been expected by AIB that topics that are discussed behind closed doors in our culture can’t all of a sudden be expected to be accepted with no sense of discomfort whatsoever. The 4000 people at the live event probably saw it coming but millions of viewers on YouTube were probably taken aback with the sheer audacity and openness with which cuss words were exchanged. I am not sure whether the concept of roast demands profanity to insult the protagonists but in my opinion politically incorrect and swear words should not be the whole prop of your humour. One needs to give the Indian audience time to embrace a paradigm shift from the form of humour it is used to accept.

As of today, every form of expression in this country is being corrupted by pseudo-intellectuals and neo-liberals. They feel that it is their birth right to tell stories, make films or even do comedy. The current generation has a sense of irony, a lot of cynicism and less self-importance which in all likelihood is not the case with our preceding generation. Hence, they get all defensive once anything breaches their comfort zone. Freedom of speech is an important topic for a society like ours, which at times, can be very archaic. Can we all just lighten up and laugh about how messed up we are?
To quote Ethel Barrymore, You grow up the first day you have a first good laugh – at yourself”.