Beatdown Of The Month: Open Letter To All Outraged by ‘AIB Knockout’
First, a bit of context for those unaware of the situation:
On December 2014, an Indian comedy group known as All India Bakchod (AIB), organized a comedy roast entitled ‘AIB Knockout’ of Bollywood actors Ranveer Singh & Arjun Kapoor. The Roast was hosted by noted director and producer, Karan Johar for an audience that included various other celebrities from Bollywood as well. The participants were the entire AIB Group, as well as other journalists, TV hosts and comedians. The show was laced with profanity, contained foul humor and a flurry of insults aimed at almost everyone present regarding their professional careers, personal lives, sexuality, religion, appearance… all ranging from the ridiculous to oh so horribly offensive. Exactly what a ‘Roast’ is supposed to be.
At the time of the live event, as far as I am aware, there were no complaints, protests of action by anyone who had an issue with the event or its content, keeping in mind that 4,000 were in attendance, not counting the organizers, event staff, etc.
However, in January 2015, when the YouTube version of the event gained instant popularity and viral status, many high ranking political officials and others took notice, got offended and have since caused a chain reaction of outrage from the public and others, resulting in legal charges, Supreme Court hearings, and possible jail time for some. AIB removed the video, apologized and are currently on a tour of regret to every group they may have offended.
A comprehensive breakdown of the controversy can be found here.
Now here is my open letter to all parties who take issue with the ‘AIB Knockout’.
To Ashok Pandit & Other Officials:
I find it ludicrous that as a member of the Censor Board Of India, you have an issue with a public event that only featured celebrities from the film industry over which you preside. Your job isn’t to determine the exposure of the type of content Bollywood actors and filmmakers put forth in their personal lives, but rather their professional ones. The ‘AIB Knockout’ was in no way endorsed or sponsored by anyone affiliated with Bollywood, but rather an event in which Bollywood personalities participated.
Karan Johar could have easily shown his position while performing sex to his mom at home instead of making it public.#AIB Porn Show.
— Ashoke Pandit (@ashokepandit) February 3, 2015
I also find your moral high ground to be one of complete and utter hypocrisy, given that you and your board seem to be completely accepting of Bollywood films featuring content and storylines that infringe upon the same cultural values and morals that you apparently hold in such high regard. Derogatory treatment of women, vulgarity, and lewd acts are staples of Bollywood films, and I don’t even mean that part of the content which is only limited to theatres during the theatrical version of the film. Films songs that are publically aired on various media outlets feature lyrics like ‘raat hai ek whore, yeh maange more’ and ‘tu chaahe… choos le’ (implying a blowjob) from the film ‘Go Goa Gone’ are apparently so culturally appropriate, that no restriction or censorship was needed. Boys harassing girls in aggressively abusive ways is also a Bollywood staple such as featured in recent movies like ‘R… Rajkumar’, ‘Ek Deewana Tha’ or ‘Besharam’, but those cases of Bollywood showcasing unfair treatment of women is for whatever reason acceptable by your standards?
I have no issues with your morality or the values that you hold dear. However, I expect you to hold the same high standards for every instance of a violation of your supposed values, and not the ones that gain you the most publicity or personal benefit.
To The General Public:
I realize most of you have jumped onto the bandwagon propagated by these officials like Ashok Pandit, but common sense should prevail. Our South Asian countries, if not the world, are plagued by a lot more flagrantly obvious issues for this to be such a talking point for our society. Education, corruption, representation, discrimination are all issues that deserve this level of high profile media and public attention, debate and scrutiny. However, we want to display such passion and social relevance for a comedy show? Is there not better ways to spend our time? Can we not come together and create this level of outrage for the millions of lives affected by economy, improper governance and blatant negligence? Or does our morality only blossom when it comes to the defense of those moral principles only, but not the actual application of those same moral values in our everyday lives?
To The Parents:
Some of you, like a character from ‘The Simpsons’, have been shouting about how we should ‘please think of the children!’ But an actor’s responsibility is not first and foremost to be a role model, nor do your parenting for you. You don’t hold your family doctor, accountant, or dry cleaner accountable for their behavior outside of the professional capacity in which you and your kids interact with them, so why do the same with actors?
I also wonder if you have the same level of concern when your children are exposed to constant gossip regarding actors’ lives, marriages, relationships, or other professional scandals, which seems to be the most prevalent form of Bollywood media? Do you condemn celebrities for not portraying the values of an ideal marriage to your children, or ideal professionalism in their careers? How many of you actually pay attention to the Censor Board or film ratings of movies that you decide to watch with your kids, concerned about the violence, language or sexual content within the film? How many of your are aware of the content that they are watching in a typical Bollywood ‘romance’ that may be giving them the wrong idea about women, relationships or what is expected of them as soon to be adults? How many of you are indifferent, or maybe even proud if your child knows all the lyrics to ‘Sheila Ki Jawani’ or ‘Chikni Chameli’, or can mimic all the dance steps?
As a parent, it is your job to put the world into context for your children. Actors or Celebrities shouldn’t be role models or proxy parents for your kids in the first place. If you are so outraged at your children having access to content that is adult orientated, where are your petitions to TV channels that publicly air gratuitously explicit Bollywood songs, featuring scantily clad women and even more vulgar sexually suggestive lyrics. And if your underage child has access to restricted 18+ videos on the Internet that they should not be watching, then you have a lot more things to be concerned with than them watching a Comedy show. Parental negligence doesn’t transfer responsibility onto others; the onus is still on you to be aware of what your children are being exposed to within your own home.
To Those Who Didn’t ‘Get’ The Jokes: **Explicit Language Warning**
A lot of the complaints regarding the content of the show featured the obscene jokes made at the expense of women and particularly other actresses. Given that majority of these were hurled at Sonakshi Sinha, Deepika Padukone & Alia Bhatt, all of whom were present and have no complaints, Parineeti Chopra is singled out due to one particular joke.
The joke itself uses a non-literal meaning of the word ‘fucked’ (in the same way the words ‘messed’ or ‘screwed’ may be used) during its mention of Parineeti Chopra and plays on its literal meaning to construct a sexual punch line aimed at Karan Johar. So the punch line wasn’t even regarding Parineeti Chopra, but rather Karan Johar, who had no issues with it, neither did others present, as can be seen below.
If anything, they should be given an award for having the balls to push the boundaries in a society that needed pushing! @AllIndiaBakchod
— Sid Mallya (@sidmallya) February 5, 2015
The AiB show is final proof thy India has finally come of age nd I truly appreciate Karan for taking the plunge or more correctly the leap
— Ram Gopal Varma (@RGVzoomin) February 3, 2015
Not your cup of tea…don’t drink it!!!
— Karan Johar (@karanjohar) February 3, 2015
So nice to see twitter is filled with such angels who point out hypocrisy n never use foul language n have nvr laughed at dirty jokes (haw)
— Sonakshi Sinha (@sonakshisinha) February 3, 2015
The ‘AIB Knockout’ was, quite literally, the most genuine reflection of Indian celebrities and actors on stage that I have ever seen in my life. The demeanor and interaction between all involved was more honest and sincere than the congratulatory exercise in collective masturbation that is the majority of Bollywood award shows, of which there are hundreds. In an industry where live events are edited for dramatic effect during broadcast, where gossip is the main source of relevant ‘film news’, and instances of sarcasm are taken literally, the comedy Roast is severely needed to bring about some sort of revolution to the current status quo.
In an industry where films are still banned for speaking the truth, and sexuality is traded and sold on the big screen, some lighthearted mockery is necessary in order to maintain sanity. Criticism, something that is a necessary part of any film industry, can be harsh and brutal, intended to point out flaws and expose them in public with no regard to the emotional harm such criticism may cause. While Roasting, is using those flaws through hearted humor, by people most closest to you, to provide the ability to laugh at one’s flaws there by accept them and move on.
The way the members of All India Bakchod and the participants of the AIB Knockout have been crucified for taking part in a humorous event involving each other, with each other and for each other, harming no one else in the process, is a travesty and quite possibly the worst thing that can happen to the film and entertainment industry of India.