Censoring the sangeet

When I came to know Ashoke Pandit has become a VIC (Very Important Censor) meri ankhen bhar aayeen. He has worked hard for this, endangering his own blood pressure.

But then, the first thing he decides to censor is… a sangeet — yaniki AIB roast?!

Illustration/ Amit Bandre

See, at a sangeet, the bride's side does their own stand up comedy, working hard to offend the groom’s side, with vulgar songs and choice abuses.

For instance, I heard of a song from Lucknow: “Tareef karen kya intezaam ki, bitiya xxxx gayi nizam ki” (Praise the wedding arrangements? When it’s all about the nizam’s daughter being deflowered?). Punjabis sing songs where intimate body parts are called food names (we are like that now what to do) and insult ladke wale with stuff like, these fellows will look after our daughter, who look like they can’t even afford a kaccha? The jeth and his wife are eyeing the same young lad in the fields. I’ve been informed of a Bhojpuri song, sung by women who say they will bring a pendulous jackfruit, cook tarkari for the groom, serve it on a jackfruit leaf, and put the stalk in the groom. The groom’s side magnanimously grin and bear this humour, because there’s no confusion where the power lies.

A sangeet’s profanities are always followed by the wedding’s sanctities. Feet are touched, dowry, sorry gifts are given and the power equation continues undisturbed.

So it was with AIB’s Roast, which was somehow simultaneously tumescent and limp, and had trouble keeping it up (the humour obviously) but what’s new there ladies? The ladki wale comics hurled abuses at the movie people, and the ladke waale, Princeling Ranvir Singh and Kunwar Arjun Kapoor, lolled around on those shaadi wale throne chairs and took this mock edgy adolescent, bawdy humour. The bottom (no pun, well, not really) line was that every 10 minutes we were asked to give a big hand to these sporting princes and the exercise aggrandized them, as everything that Bollywood folks do, usually does. So Mr Pandit should chill, yeh shaadi hoti rahegi.

My five-year-old niece currently loves this Whatsapp video. It’s a cartoon of a turd with a face, singing ‘tatti aayi hai’ to the tune of Pankaj Udhas’ ‘chitthi aayi hai.” I don’t find it totally un-funny but it’s kind of disgusting. It’s just, her naughty delight makes me smile, so I suffer the repeated bad joke and don't stop or scold her, knowing it’s a phase and she’ll graduate to better humour from this level — as we hope will folks in our country.

The Roast had its moments and I did laugh sometimes. But in truth there was nothing here we haven’t seen on Koffee with Karan, which as we know, I watch faithfully. Outing relationships, heavy innuendo about KJo's sexual orientation, primarily from him, jokes about Ranvir’s sluttiness aka machismo and his bro-love with Arjun, and girls looking hot and giggling at outré jokes that being the limit of their liberalness (Kangana wasn’t there na? See, I told, you no need to worry about the status quo). We’ve seen it all. This roast was simply a sticky jokes version of it and had its audience, like that scatalogical video has my niece.

If anyone was radical here, it was Karan Johar’s mom, who broke the fourth wall by being there, and smiled, like I smile at my niece’s video — and said nothing much to Kjo later. Mr Pandit should look at her and realize, that it’s not just jokes, but this love that changes the world — and that sure is hard to censor.

Paromita Vohra is an award-winning Mumbai-based filmmaker, writer and curator working with fiction and non-fiction. Reach her at www.parodevi.com.
The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.

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