It’s not only the great Lata Mangeshkar who has been insulted by a self-styled comedian. And it’s not only Tanmay Bhat who does it.
Disparaging women, commenting on their physical attributes and pulling them down as dumb and moody is an everyday occurrence. The two weekend shows, Comedy Night Bachao and Comedy Night Live, on Colors, constantly ridicule women. Comic actress Bharati Singh’s obesity is gleefully ridiculed and mocked and even she seems to enjoy being called “moti bhains” and “saandh” and other unflattering names. In Comedy Nights With Kapil, when Kapil Sharma would make merciless fun of his on screen wife (Sumona Chakravarty), everybody would laugh.
But Shatrughan Sinha, who has been on screen for 45 years, ensures no disparaging remarks are made about women when he is around. “From the beginning of my career, even when I played a villain, I made sure I didn’t utter one vulgar word that insults women. Even in scenes that required me to get aggressive with the ladies, I drew a Lakshman Rekha. Now I find people regularly crossing that line of decorum on all mediums. Even in my play Pati Patni Aur Main, which I’ve been performing for the last 15 years, there is naughty humour, but no dirty humour.”
Writer-editor Apurva Asrani (who has edited Ram Gopal Varma’s best works and written Hansal Mehta’s Aligarh) feels the way women are treated on television and Internet is a reflection of social attitudes.
“It shows you the status of women in our society. By and large, they are expected to stay at home, cook and raise kids while the men go out and deal with the world. The kids then come back home to see their fathers taunt the ‘sitting duck’ of a mother. She must quietly listen to the sermon because daddy gives her the monthly allowance.”
Apurva doesn’t mind tongue-in-cheek digs at women. But he feels the video on Lata ji crossed the line: “I’m all for irreverent comedy. I even enjoyed the mimicry of Lata Mangeshkar at a recent awards function. But this time, I feel the jokes went too far. I just want to remind these young bright comics, that even when you mimic, spoof or satire, the intention can be affectionate as opposed to hateful. ‘My pain may be the reason for somebody’s laugh. But my laugh must never be the reason for somebody’s pain,’ Charlie Chaplin had said that.”
Kiku Sharda from The Kapil Sharma Show, however, adds that there is a huge difference between what they do on TV and what Tanmay Bhat did. “There is a fine line that one shouldn’t cross. We need to see who are we spoofing and the body of work they have. The kind of joke that was made had no credibility at all. Even Sugandha Mishra mimics Lata Mangeshkar at award functions, but no one takes offence because it’s not in a bad taste. Sachin Tendulkar too has been mimicked many times and no one took offence because the artists knew what they were doing. Subtlety and wittiness in jokes is always welcome, crudity isn’t. When we do it for TV, the actors are kept in the loop and even we make sure that the jokes are not crass. I’m not saying that it’s fine to crack jokes about some celebrities and keep some aside, but the jokes should be funny and not crass.”
Why spare Kapil Sharma and other comics?
Is it because they spare the big stars and target the small fry?
Kapil Sharma makes a living out of insulting women, degrading his co-actors on the show and body shaming his on-screen wife repeatedly.
- Nurses from Amritsar, Kapil’s birthplace, had recently registered a police complaint accusing Kapil and the show that it had demeaned their profession by objectifying them. But people aren’t taking this seriously?
- Earlier, stand-up comedian Sugandha Mishra had also imitated Lata Mangeshkar in an award show, but nothing was spoken about it either.
- Filmmaker Subhash Ghai recently tweeted about the Tanmay issue: “People of India are terribly hurt by new comedy/jokes on elders, who have been the inspiration to generations. Learn to respect elders. Stop it here.” Ghai, however, supported Kapil Sharma by saying, “The Kapil Sharma Show is the most popular comedy show today. Has he ever hurt anyone or disrespected senior icons or legends? Let’s learn from him.”
- Kapil is known for not offending seniors and big film stars. But small stars on the show are regularly humiliated. So, is humiliation subjective on the basis of our status?