‘Aisi Taisi Democracy’, an Indian Social Commentary Group, has lately attracted plenty of attention after their gig at Motilal Nehru Institute of Technology, Allahabad was cut short because of a certain content in their performance that the college authorities had found ‘objectionable’. Later, the group posted a long status on their facebook page explaining how it was actually their address on the subject of sex education and need thereof, that incited and scandalized the authorities to such an extent, that they deemed turning their mics off a befitting treatment.
Extreme? Yes. Ironical? Absolutely.
Varun Grover, a member of the comedy group, wrote about how as soon as he started narrating several incidents to exemplify the claim that sex is considered a taboo in the country, he immediately started noticing a few teachers emptying their chairs. Next thing he knows, his mic is turned off and so are all others. Before the squad could gauge what just happened, they were asked to leave. It is only later that the group learned that some professors began taking offense to the language they used.
Language, here being- words describing human anatomy.
It’s funny how the college authorities seem to have given a live demo of exactly what the comedians were addressing- clear discomfort and denial when it comes to talking about completely natural things such as Sex.
However, it’s imperative here to mention that the group also claims that they didn’t use any abusive language and cuss words, whatsoever. But, several comments on their post suggest otherwise.
The group’s counter to these claims is that such language is used by most of us in our daily lives and thus it is only normal for them to incorporate it in their performance. How explicit their language was or wasn’t is difficult to decipher, since we have only heard one side of the story.
The question, however, comes back to freedom of speech and whether there is a certain line of ‘explicitness’ we can draw ? Was the content explicit at all, to begin with?
Comedy is one realm that somehow always ends up coming under the radar of moral policing in our country.In fact, as a reply to ATD’s Post, Papa CJ, Asia’s most acclaimed comedian expressed how he is himself banned from many colleges.
We’ve seen it happening with several television comedy shows as well. Kapil Sharma has been termed a misogynist by many of his own contemporaries. AIB was booked for their infamous ‘Roast’. Comedy Nights Bachao was only recently under fire for their racist remarks on actress Tannishtha Chatterjee, something most of us spoke voraciously against.
Does it make us a hypocrite when we begin to defend some comedy as ‘freedom of speech’ and dismiss the others we don’t particularly find pleasant, as ‘racist’, ‘sexist’ and several other ‘ists’?
Comedian Sorabh Pant had a very reasonable and appropriate response to this. In a facebook video rant, he reasons why he is absolutely disgusted by any sort of crass and racist humor, but still defends every comedian’s right to perform that kind of humor.
Freedom of speech, ladies and gentlemen. To swallow all that we love, like, dislike, and abhor- it’s either all of it, or none.