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food for thought

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  7 Feb 2015 12:00 AM GMT

Whenever we publicly praise or felicitate someone, it is a happy occasion. In Western countries, raising a ‘toast’ to someone like this is almost an art. In the past few years, a mock counter to a ‘toast’ has become popular in the US. It is called a ‘roast’ in which a person is invited as guest of honour and subjected to much good–tured teasing and leg–pulling. Relatives, friends and well–wishers deliver jokes and insults in such a way that it actually ends up honouring the person. And the person proves his mettle by taking this ‘roasting’ sportingly, laughing with good humour at jokes made at his expense. But recently, one such event organised in India has created much controversy. It was a celebrity show organised in Mumbai by the AIB comedy group, where actors Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor were subjected to ‘roasting’. Later footage of the event ‘AIB Knockout Roast’ was released in the video–sharing website YouTube, which was seen by over 8 million viewers. Most of the viewers were shocked at the vulgarity of the show. The jokes and insults were extremely crude, while dirty words and expletives were used liberally. It was surprising that most of the film celebrities in the audience seemed to find this crass show very funny. However, the Maharashtra government is not amused, and the Mumbai police is likely to probe the matter. The show organisers are putting forward the excuse of freedom of expression, and that Indians in general lack a sense of humour. But concerned citizens are asking whether it is necessary to use vulgarity and obscene words to make people laugh. For long, popular humour in India has poked fun at the elderly, the ugly, the overweight, the mentally or physically handicapped, and the sick. Women and eunuchs are frequently the butt of highly offensive jokes. If there are bawdy ‘Sardarji’ jokes about Sikhs, people from the Northeast are teased as ‘chinkys’, ‘momos’ and ‘chowmein’. But true humour is wholesome as well as subtle. Great humorists are studied for the way they use language for comic effect. And any actor worth his salt can tell us how difficult good comedy is. If raising a laugh is an art of the highest order, the ability to appreciate humour shows our sensitivity and refinement. Vulgarity is neither funny, nor ‘cool’.

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