If you an Indian interwebs-junkie and don’t spend every bit of your bandwidth quota in watching videos on the educational site also known as Pornhub, you would have heard of All India Bakchod and The Viral Fever, and if not heard of them, then definitely seen their videos. And if you have not a week ago, you definitely know of AIB now with their roast of Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh going viral on the Net and getting play time in the media, and then being taken down, now that random religious outfits eager to grab their two seconds of fame have filed cases against them for “vulgarity”, and the fans of a prominent star, who has apparently taken grievous umbrage to what was said, anti-hashtagging it aggressively on Twitter, because as you may have guessed it, this is very important issue for the youth of the country right next to global warming and Gautam Gulati winning Big Boss.
So, like every other young man like Rahul Gandhi, I too have something to say.
First of all, well done AIB. You has definitely struck gold with their roast. None of this, the approbation or the condemnation, is going to harm you guys even a little bit. On the contrary it has firmly established your brand.
Because, make no mistake, gaaonwaalon, this is business.
Along with TVF and several other similar comedy-collectives, AIB caters to an under-served market that has huge disposable income, namely upper-middle-class urban Indian youth, drawing their comedic inspirations from Comedy Central and pirated specials of Louis CK, for whom Kapil Sharma and Raju Srivastava are the Guddu Rangeela and Altaf Raja of laughs. The “disposable income” part is very critical because that’s where the business model is. Roasts and stand-up and fake movie award nites are perfect for brands, and, it’s well known that advertising, explicit or implied, works best with humor.
Of course a vital component of popularity in India is Bollywood. No matter how much you “roast” them, it’s impossible to take the next step up in the popularity ladder without Bollywood celebrity endorsement. While that’s not rocket science, what’s less obvious is that Bollywood needs comedy collectives too. The days of inaccessible movie-stars with large sun-glasses has joined abundant chest hair in the dust-heap of history. Now Alia Bhatt’s PR works with them to cleverly roll back a PR disaster for their client. Rising stars like Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh want to associate with AIB, because it feeds in well with the persona their image managers want to cultivate, that of bindass stars who then become first choices to endorse youth brands, like condoms, with a direct connect to the Roadies demographic and it was not a co-incidence, I guess, then that the once-anchor of Roadies, its most recognizable bald head, was also on the Roast panel. Even someone like Shahrukh Khan, who you would think transcends the need for publicity, comes on TVF, because their insane number of Youtube subscriptions is too much for even him to let go.
This is, of course, all a marketeer’s wet-dream. And like most great success stories, the different comedy-groups have their timing right. Ten years ago, when Net speeds were as fast as Munaf Patel, an Youtube-based franchise would not have worked. Now it does, rivalling television in terms of ease of access. If I had money, (which I dont) and the balls to invest (which I dont), I would buy stocks in AIB and TVF right now, because they are a bunch of digital visionaries, firmly on the way up.
Coming to the show itself, I found it quite enjoyable. While some of the jokes missed the mark, either due to the writing or due to the delivery, and that anyone who writes comedy will tell you is inevitable, in all it was very professionally put together event. My favorites were Tanmay Bhatt among the stand-up comics when it came to the delivery, and Karan Johar among the celebrities. Not so much for what KJo said, but the way he said it. The best humor stems from incongruity, and it’s the dissonance between KJo’s “It’s all about loving your family” (which on second thoughts now sounds a bit Game of Thrones creepy) wholesome persona, and the way he comes across (which of course is also an act) in the Roast that’s makes for the best laughs. It’s like a Nirupa Roy character in a film looking tearily into the camera, “Aaj woh hote toh yeh din naheen dekhne padte” as a sad Kalyanji-Anandji tune plays in the background and then suddenly fishing out a multi-speed dildo.
Of course there was the inevitable shitstorm about the language and the jokes. Here is how it works, dear fellows. Just like your clicking and loading a porn link implies implicit consent to nudity, your clicking on a roast implies implicit consent to bad language and overall filth. It’s not that difficult. And I am sorry to have to break this to you, but the language that your innocent self was exposed to when you sat through an hour of an AIB roast is exactly what you would find in a hostel room and in the backyard of a school, and again I am sorry the world isn’t different, but hey, duniye bananae waale kya tere man main samayee, kahe ko chutiya banaai.
But was the bad language necessary? Kind of. The best roasts are those that recreate relaxed meeting of old friends, where they reminisce, throw about embarrassing anecdotes, and talk the way old friends talk, without concern for feelings or propriety or the appropriateness of the language. You are the outsider, not normally part of such an exalted circle of celebrities, but being allowed, by virtue of having bought a ticket (or of seeing an ad on Youtube), to be part of this exclusive group of friends for an hour. The bad language is part of the act, it’s what creates the reality of the illusion, and hence inevitable.
If the roast falls short anywhere though, it is not so much the language, but that it breaks the fantasy of spontaneity, in that there are a tad too many places where the roasters seem to be rehearsed. I may be wrong but KJo seemed to have ad-libbed at places and those, as I mentioned before, were the best parts of the roast because it came off as natural. Part of it was inevitable, roasts work best when the people on the stage have a long history of prior work, and can play off each other, and I somehow think that Arjun Kapoor and Ranvir Singh, despite the back-slaps and the embraces, not really chaddi-buddies with the rest, coming as they do from different worlds.
What was not inevitable and could have been avoided, was the tendency to play the same things again and again, fat jokes at Tanmay, black jokes at Ashish, Catholic jokes at Abish. Not just because it was repetitive, but because the cultural context that has “inspired” the jokes just does not carry over. Catholic priests abusing altarboys is a standard trope in American standup comedy, it sounds silly to an Indian audience because even the biggers haters of the church associate it with conversion, not underage molestation. A “You are so black” joke directed at Snoop Dog isn’t a joke at his skin color, but at his cultural baggage. A more appropriate adaptation would be “He is so Bengali that when a girl asks him to bring protection, he comes with a monkey cap”. Replace that Bengali with “AAP” and “monkey cap” with “muffler” for another variant.
The final word is pretty simple though. Like it or not, the roast is there and insult comedy is here to stay. Just like Honey Singh, Radheshyam Rasia, and Somnath Bharti. And while you are free to counter-protest, or turn-off, or unfollow or unsubscribe, you do not have the right to shut down, either through government fiat, very easily done given the sorry protection given to freedom of speech in our laws, or through implied threats of violence. Of course, this is all going to blow away pretty soon. Political parties love moral policing, while claiming not to, because it’s a cheap and dirty way to “We care” popularity, far easier than building hospitals or providing clean water, and so they will blow hot for a day or two, AIB will keep under the radar for a while, and then after an appropriate period of time has passed, everything will be back to normal and AIB will have a stronger brand than when they started.
And that’s good.
Because we definitely need more humor.
39 thoughts on “A Few Thoughts on the AIB Roast”
Me First .. What do I get?
AIB roast pirated videos.
Amazing write up, thoughts placed very well. Personally I found it to be a bit boring and repetitive in parts, specifically with the gay and black jokes. But it was a great roast nonetheless.
In laundo ki toh lottery lag gayi…
Barring Kjo and the guy who started the roast, it was bad, mediocre comedy
And Kapoor was still overacting.
You are right language isn’t the issue. Just wondering, if all these gay jokes on KJo and the other two starlets were tweeted by someone, in as much humour as shown by AIB writers, had they been complimented or been called homophobic uncivil trolls?
The main issue here is that the celebrities, who are the role model of the youth, and particularly the children, kind of endorses the use of bad language as “being cool”. While some of the other AIB videos has also been using the foul language, it was never a problem, since that’s just a channel, or a twitter by a normal person, not the role model of the next youth generation.
Apple Stores in Indian Metros. Can you get them GB?
So here’s my gripe – we continue to have the wrong conversation – and GreatBong sir, I have to point out your mistakes as well:
“And while you are free to counter-protest, or turn-off, or unfollow or unsubscribe, you do not have the right to shut down, either through government fiat, very easily done given the sorry protection given to freedom of speech in our laws, or through implied threats of violence. ”
So the deal is – we DO have the right to shut it down. And there in lies the problem:
Article 19(1) of the Constitution
Section 295A, 354, 377 of the Indian Penal Code
Section 66A of the IT Act
And what is unfortunate is the lack of discussion on why these laws still exist. While a law student, God bless her soul, is challenging Section 66A, nobody is looking into the others.
For starters – why is speech being prosecuted under the criminal code? All other democracies treat it as a violation of the civil code. The difference? The ability of the police to harass you over this.
The police get involved in criminal cases, but only lawyers, judges, and fines come into the picture with civil cases. Why should these things be treated under the criminal code. Everyone has a right to sue – but in India – we put them in jail for being comedians.
Instead of targeting the laws, people usually find it more convenient to target the government – and surprise surprise, it is a BJP government in charge, so it’s open season and let the fascist accusation-hurling and potshots begin (not accusing you of doing this, but that is what the underlying theme is of the whole issue)
Part of what you copied-pasted “very easily done given the sorry protection given to freedom of speech in our laws”. Did you read that part?
Article 19 (1)???? Dude, that’s where freedom of speech is, not the restriction!!
Section 354 of IPC is assault or criminal force used against a woman to outrage her modesty. How’s that a speech issue??
Section 377: well it’s certainly a right to life issue, an expression issue, not really speech..right?
Interesting this dissection. When read in conjunction with the Charlie Hebdo controversy, one would ask, which is more inappropriate (if at all). Greatbong here is poser for you. If it were that your child were to hear all these choicest of expletives through an innocent foray on the world ‘wild’ web despite your best of child security ‘locks’, would you feel happy that he did? And here I want you to be frank. The consent argument does not hold good right. At a personal level, I am all for freedom of expression (any form). But the argumentative Indian says there are moral boundaries in terms of what is the way I influence others (or inadvertently end up doing so) . I do not wish to post an ISIS beheading video, or a rapists despicable act on video for it may create a bad impression on some impressionable mind(s). That’s me. But you know where I stand on this.
The responsibility of a parent to recognize the inevitability of age-inappropriate stimuli for children and to counsel them in a way that they are able to properly process and react to it. If there was no AIB roast, my daughter would hear this in school. In my days, there was no Internet. The moment I stepped out of my house, the kids from the slums right next door would shout to themselves, “Ei banra, chude debo bokachoda”. I heard it, but I did not reproduce it in front of my teacher nor did it damage my morals permanently, any more than what I have inflicted voluntarily on myself.
” heard it, but I did not reproduce it in front of my teacher nor did it damage my morals permanently, any more than what I have inflicted voluntarily on myself.” What makes you think that every other impressionable mind would be influenced in the same way? Isn’t it a lame generalization, where an inference is based on a single data point?
Also dude, if you seriously find reasons to support people who comment about mas********* thinking of an elderly lady like Farida Jalal, you seriously have a problem.
The kid from the slum – he was never your role model. From the time you hear this, you know – “this is something I cannot tell in font of the elders”. Now, Singh and Kapoor and Johar, who are the role model of so many young children in the country, they speak out the curse words in front of so many grown ups, and everyone laughs, and act cools. So, what does the child learn? You are cool when you speak those curse words.
Really well put in terms of your argument, but may I ask, at what age did you come to learn about these vulgar words? If you remember correctly, school kids are mostly exposed to the vulgar dictionary by the time they are adolescents, and all of these happen without any form of supervision on behalf of their parents. So is it not a better idea that these kids watch these videos and their parents instead of shunning this otherwise inevitable vulgar world away from them, teach them the appropriateness and context in which these are spoken?
It’s sad that in search of humour, comedy and Jokes, we also saying yes to vulgarity, foul mouthing and swearing. Where should we draw a line?
1. Today we say OK maa-bhen ki gali.
2. Tomorrow it will be OK to see repeated real tight slaps being hurried by AIB panellist on each other and we all will have a good laugh on that like we laugh on laurel and hardy.
3. Day after tomorrow it will be OK if someone kicks on someone’s groin and we have hearty laugh while the other person is rolling on the floor in pain.
4. Day next we will be OK if someone presses someone’s breast in front of audience and we will have a eye opening moment of what just happened making it an Indian Janet Jackson episode.
5 Day next we will be OK to see someone farts on face of other person, while he is sleeping or caught unaware, we will have a good laugh and also think what would happen if we ignite the fart, they should try it out.
6 Day next we will be OK if someone will put his hands in his pants, get the sweat and muck out and force someone to taste the salt.
7 Day next we will be OK, if someone walks naked on the stage like a borat, and dry hump anyone and everyone.
8. Day next we will be OK to actually see someone tearing someone’s cloths to shreds on the stage and sending them home naked.
9 Day next we will be OK if someone someone gets his dick out of his pants, gives it a rub and masturbate in front of everyone.
10 Day next we will see how live gang rape is done, the way it is being forwarded on whatsapp MMS clips.
So in just 10 days All India Bakchode will become All India Bhenchod.
I am against moral policing, but not on stooping low on character.
I think even the Korean war will take more time to escalate than your 10 day plan.
1. Roasts and way more offensive than this, have existed in the west for decades, and last time I checked they weren’t finding gang rape funny.
2. Sir, Nobody forced you to go to the show, and maybe you weren’t sure what a roast was and started seeing the video, there was clear warning at the beginning of the video that it was filthy. Maybe you didn’t understand what filthy meant , you could have stopped as soon as you heard your first ‘chod’.
3. I like this kind of humor, these people like doing this kind of humor, they were not making fun of you or any community that you may be a part of, they were making fun of themselves/each other and a few friends of theirs. Salman Khan/Anil kapoor have full right to be offended (Just as the comics have a right to offend them). But you sir weren’t invited to the show, nor were forced to see the video nor were made fun of. You ask where should we draw a line, question should be when do you draw a line. And the answer – at least not when the jokes not on you and you are not forced to hear it. Seriously if you have problem with the intellectual level of the comedic scene in India, you are barking up the wrong tree and you are too late.
5. Please let others be the judge of whether you are for or against moral policing.
I wish we held our politicians and more importantly ourselves as a society to the same lofty moral, intellectual standards that we saddle our entertainers with.
There is something about consenting adults, that obviously you dont understand. And consensus is the key.
@ArunKumar Wow, with that imagination, you need to write a novel. And generally stop panicking about the country and its moral compass. You speak the same language of a moral policeman. I like how you live under the impression that you’re any different. The moral police also believes that others cannot decide for themselves and hence need to be guided. They take to the streets, and idiots like you post comments that are too long, and too stupid to make any sense.
The very first bullet premise is incorrect. It is okay to say maa-behn ki gaali, only if unsuspecting ears are not made to hear it. If there is a consenting-adults-group which enjoys ma-behn ki gaali, let them have a private session where they enjoy it to hilt. A private session with sufficient warning will allow the sensitive one to skip the ma-behn-gaali session. The keyword is ‘consenting adults’.
Now with this premise, build up your 10 points. Do you see society going to dogs in that case?
On a separate note, do make #WeStandByAIBKnockout trend on twitter.
L**ta , Well said but the logic would be too tough for Arun , so best of luck with a 10 day plan !!
On a different note, I feel a toast is applicable to close-knit friends like we were in hostels eating, flirting, messing, sleeping together ( I’ll stop here as this one does not have the consenting-adult-filter). We knew each other for our goods, bads and uglies. So when we twisted and bloated the uglies , it was pure humor and so was it for the audience who were also part of the group. This one with the Trio and panelists and 4000 odd un-connected audience ( err, 3999 – minus DP) seemed a bit sharper which can tick a nerve or two and wasn’t pleasant to my ears as I expected it would when I signed in. Apart from repetition of the “Yo mama is so black” or “Yo mama is so fat” jokes, I would have preferred more personal attacks that would have brought a character out of gang on the podium. The only thing that I came to know was that Arjun didnt pass XII th standard. I would have loved to hear R made fun on his female scores (seemed they were upto create a casanova image for this guy) , or a story around his moustache and smooching DP , or A’s struggle ( read red carpet entry) into Bollywood.
Well, all said, looking forward to the next one soon – maybe we will see some female actors take on the spirit ? Hmm – that would be interesting with some of the poses A & R pulled off.
The rant above somehow reminds me of ….. “Do, chaar, chhay, aat, dus…. bus”. 😀
Before we grow apoplectic at the impending demise of “bhartiya sanskiti” under the flood of western perversions, can we just take a step back and remember that passes for a roast has been practised for generations in India – only we call it an adda or its regional variations ! Friends sitting and having a yarn is what a roast or adda is!
And while Arun Kumar has delineated the slippery slope to end of civilisation, nothing on that list is not already been done. What has changed is the technology allowing easy and wide dissemination of the same. As for stopping technology – good luck with that!
Greatbong…Always found your writing Funny and it is true for this post also but disagree on content. Ask Farida Jalal and Parneeti Chopra and thier family if they found it funny ? Our good old Teddy bear Anil Kapoor already raised his Protest. What i found more disgusting is that Karan johar’s mother and Alia’s Mother was also there ?
Wow! Arun Kumar, I am more offended by your imagination than the AIB jokes themselves. It takes a special kind of salaciousness to think up that slippery slope. Say Hi to Muthalik for me, will ya?
Let me get a few things out of the way first …
Saw the full thing alone … laughed a lot … but overall had this gnawing feeling inside that I wasnt really comfortable with what I saw … which is hypocritical considering that I was one of the most foul mouthed in my all boys school … somewhere marriage , family , kid , age has caught up …
Saw it again with my wife and we both laughed with the occassional “Cant believe he said that” …
This is a genre of comedy which some people like and some dont … the closest mainstream example i can think of is music and hiphop or rap … Some love it … to others its noise …
Coming to your part about this being good for AIB guys … I am worried its not as simple as you think it will be …
AIB & TVF started off as very indie and have becoming more mainstream now … I think this would hamper that transition … Noone likes messing with the moral police and real police in India … the nuisance value is just too much as are the hassles … and If you do not have the right contacts, police can make you suffer for the smallest of things … (Can say this from personal experience having committed the crime of playing loud music inside my house once … you can guess how loud it must have been considering it was being played on a simple home dvd player with 2.1 speakers attached) …
This event will make them more famous … it will give them more material to write … but i think it will push them back to indie … rather than going mainstream … all the more because now the moral police and the real police have a common boss …
Insult comedy limited to what Kapil Sharma does to his costars (not the guests) and his audience is what will survive !!!
I did not like most of the jokes (the kaala khatta one was the best IMHO), but that is a subjective matter. If we are discussing freedom of speech, the response of the audience was nauseating, and even that is an understatement.
A roast is NOT supposed to be politically correct. I am surprised that people expected puritan stuff on the show.
you missed some points:
ashok pandit tweet – “Karan Johar could have easily shown his position while performing sex to his mom at home instead of making it public.#AIB Porn Show.”
what’s your (GB) view on pandit’s tweet ….?
You did not speak on deepika and sonakshi …who strongly protest TOI and KRK ….but does not mind AIB…..!!
People who wanted to leave the live show were not allowed.
Salman khan’s sister related jokes were deleted !?
When mainstream actors can use cusswords than why not me……this is what the naive teenagers are learning. They dont understand ‘roast’ format as clearly as porn.
” It’s like a Nirupa Roy character in a film looking tearily into the camera, “Aaj woh hote toh yeh din naheen dekhne padte” as a sad Kalyanji-Anandji tune plays in the background and then suddenly fishing out a multi-speed dildo.”
Yeh sab padna padega…pata hota toh sayad hum yeh article par click nahi karte. lol
People enjoy and then bitch and moan because they don’t want to be “seen” as people who would enjoy such “humor”
The thing on the roast: none of the dudes are that popular or have done “big” things in life worth celebrating about. There is nothing, I mean nothing about them that people can make comedy (except fatness, blackness, catholicness). And the two actors, director are also “losers” who would need this type of cheap publicity. But as they say there is not good publicity, bad publicity just publicity.
If I was an artiste, an actor, I would let my work speak.
If I was a loser, I would do AIB roast and all such shennanigans to get my 2 minute publicity.
If there is demand, there would be supply.
If there is no demand, a steady supply will create demand.
THIS sort of comedy will/could rule in future.
IMO it should be a PAID subscription to youtube channels and not the 4K ticket sale for “charity” (as if it being for charity makes it OK). After all AIB is a youtube channel They did this roast without taking appropriate permission, filing appropriate forms etc etc. So in that they broke the law. So pulling the content down was legit.
I still believe it is not OK for my kids to see such things. I wouldn’t let my daughter dance on “radha” song if the word “sexy” was in it (we changed the word sexy to desi and let her dance). If I was gay and discussing my position, while my mother was sitting in front row….YUK. What sort of mother? Why was she there in the audience! I was little bit disgusted by that. I for one, wouldn’t want to know and be subjected to that. Maybe it is ok in their household…..but still….can’t believe it!
While I agree with most of your thoughts on the controversy and the event, some comments by your subscribers have left me speechless. Especially this line:
It’s sad that in search of humour, comedy and Jokes, we also saying yes to vulgarity, foul mouthing and swearing. Where should we draw a line?
Wow.. You have to have the shittiest train of thought ever. It is people like you, people who think it is okay to draw lines for others, who are the problem. Would you watch “2 girls one cup” even if it made you vomit? No. You’d probably close the video at the point that you start getting disgusted. People like you are the hypocrites. You watched the video, you enjoyed it (why would you spend an hour watching it if you didn’t?). Did anyone hold a gun to your head? Did anyone make you an offer you couldn’t refuse, in order to watch it? They didn’t cross the line, you did. The minute you watched it through the timestamp that it started to appear vulgar to you, you crossed the line.
I am not going to shield my children from vulgarity and foul mouthing. I am going to explain it to them. I am going to tell that that it isn’t socially acceptable. And when they become adults, it is their choice whether they wish to use that vocabulary or not.
I am not sure, I liked the concept of using expletives for jokes but thats me. Doesn’t mean I did not enjoy the show and I do wish I should have been in Mumbai to attend it live. Those who are protesting have never been to a show like that and probably cannot afford one. You have nailed that point perfectly, // huge disposable income, namely upper-middle-class urban Indian youth// <- this line sums it up. Only problem is it open for all on YouTube and that turned bad.
I liked your way of putting things and I agree with you on almost all of the points you raised. However, on a different note, I don’t think cultural factors were the ones responsible for a lack of humour for the most part. As you mentioned, most of the targeted audience of AIB constitute the upper middle class youth of India, and this entire section is influenced heavily by american sitcoms like Friends, TBBT or The 70s Show. Influential stand up comedians include the likes of Russell Peters or George Carlin. In a nutshell, overwhelming majority of the targeted audience are well acquainted with comical elements that transcends cultural barriers. However, I do agree that the humour quality for the most part was very low (barring the delivers of Khamba or Bhatt), probably because they had little originality in the jokes or their cliched content.
This AIB thing feels a bit like smoking. Do it if you have to, but don’t do it in public.
Reblogged this on Musings of a Bombay Girl.
I still dont get why insult comedy goes in parallel with abusive language. Will jokes be less funnier without them? I have not seen any roast outside India so not sure it works there.
Mind your language. No first mind your knowledge and figure out what is Roast all about. Its not a spiritual jagraati but something similar to what youthful groups across tiny towns of north india do during holi festival. Abuse each others with all that filthy language available around, passed from one generation to other, sip bhaang or similar, sing songs which are written with filthy words, means to roast each other.
and all this is strictly for adults. It is there for years. I have seen it in my childhood. So whY so much of noice against AIB?
I dont know why there is so much of fuss about the concept of roast without understanding it.
Dont we indians abuse in public, private, in parties, at hostels, in meetings with subordinates everyday?
Aren’t we all came out in this world alongwith shitload of filth and poo and pee every other day after birth. Lets accept, filth is part of us, its resides within us. It Comes out when the body dont want it. It gets developed everyday and if the body is not able to throw out, it hits our immune. So ones in a while its good to vent it out. Its okay to say fcuk you. 🙂
And dont tell me indians don’t abuse like the way happened in AIB roast episode. Holi festival is nearing and it has another side of dark colors. attend the holi celebrations in tiny towns of north and you will find amazing roast episodes where youngsters, adults gather by evenings, sip local bhaang alternatives and abuse each other by singing vulgar songs, poems, shaiery.. in towns of maharashtra the groups lit the holi and abuse all those who misbehaved in last one year in front of their house with innovative mix of abuse, lyrics and personalization.
As a child I have seen that. As a youth I have participated in it And I dont find anything wrong in it if it is done with acceptance of all involved.
if we believe in a concept of heaven, be mature enough to accept hell. Welcome to get roasted in the hell.