Entertainment Bollywood 30 Sep 2016 The dark side of hum ...

The dark side of humour

DECCAN CHRONICLE.
Published Sep 30, 2016, 12:11 am IST
Updated Sep 30, 2016, 7:06 am IST
Actress Tannishtha Chatterjee walked out of the sets of Comedy Nights Bachao after the hosts took at a jibe at the colour of her skin
Tannishtha Chatterjee
 Tannishtha Chatterjee

Parched actress Tannishtha Chatterjee walked out of the hit television show Comedy Nights Bachao — after filming only a couple of segments of the show on Tuesday — protesting against how the show had turned the act of roasting into “bullying”, with the hosts making fun of the shade of her skin. Wrote the actress on Facebook on Wednesday, “It began with ‘aap ko jamun bahut pasand hoga… kitna jamun khaya aapne bachpan se?’ They could identify me only with that (dark skin).”

Tannishtha’s attempts to explain to the show’s producers that being roasted is different from bullying went in vain, and she walked out. The actress has since found support from many online, including actress Nandita Das, who wrote on her own profile, “I feel sad for those who stoop so low. It is time we speak up against any discrimination which is on the basis of colour, caste, class, creed and gender. This is not about Tannishtha being ‘roasted’, but it is about the kind of world we are creating and want to be part of.”

 

Krushna Abhishek, one of the hosts of the show, says, “Perhaps Tannishtha hadn’t anticipated what was coming her way and I don’t blame her for that. Everybody knows what our brand of humour is. We do a bit of tang khichai, which she probably wasn’t ready for.” He added that he and co-host, Bharti Singh ask producers to tone down content, when they  feel it is too “risqué”. He added, “I’ve done so many episodes on the show and have hosted 70 per cent of the industry including Deepika, Ranbir, Prabhudeva. Most of the industry people know me, and given that I come from a filmy background, share a good rapport with me. Nobody has ever been miffed or walked out of our show. Bharti and I have a certain way to telling a joke which I believe isn’t offensive.”

 

However, some feel that focussing on the physical attributes of a person in comedy — especially skin tone — only perpetuates harmful stereotypes, such as that those with fair skin are somehow “better”. “The national TV channel is setting a bad example. They are disguising the roast show as a comedy show. Seeing this, kids would go to school and make fun of a dark-skinned girl,” says actress Vishakha Singh. National award-winning actress Priyamani adds, “It’s wrong to make fun of skin colour, even on comedy shows. It’s probably just a mindset that fair skinned people look good on screen, but look where Priyanka Chopra is now! I’m proud of my skin tone and would not change it for anything.”

 

Poet, Sharanya Manivannan echoes the sentiment. She says, “Any joke about appearance is not a joke at all. It is just not okay to pass personal comments about someone else this way no matter how it is meant. So much of shaming and hurt happens on a personal level and something like this can also affect the targeted person psychologically. I myself have faced this many times through my life. Jokes and well-meaning comments which targeted my skin colour. The term ‘dark but beautiful’ itself is such a thinly veiled insult. I think the genre of insult comedy and roasts is alright on its own. But we need to remember that these are not taking place in vacuum but in a sociopolitical context. If you don’t think women are inferior, you won’t make jokes about women being inferior, if you don’t think dark skin is inferior, you won’t make jokes about dark skin. It’s as simple as that.”

 

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