Just a Joke?
I don’t know how many of you think of this topic as worthy of discussion. But it’s hot right now and has more to it than meets the eye. I think it’s worth discussing.
This is about a recent spat between Ashutosh Gowarikar and Sajid Khan at an awards function and subsequent news of some directors coming together to decide about not attending such awards or asking for the script of the program in advance.
There is of course a defense and retaliation offered by the other side saying everything is just a joke and that nobody can stop them from doing so in future as well. The defense offered also included a dumb excuse of ‘They do it in Hollywood’ (So that makes it right!!)
On this issue I feel like siding with Ashutosh Gowarikar. I haven’t been to the function and it is yet to be shown on TV but whatever news is coming out makes me agree with Ashutosh. He is bang on when he says ‘awards are meant to honor people and not to disgrace them’. How can you ridicule award winners? Or make stinging personal comments on people from your fraternity, who are not even present there to appreciate your so called jokes? And if it is the anonymous scriptwriters who are putting in these jokes, why do people like Sajid Khan and even Shahrukh for that matter, pretend they are their own as long as they are being appreciated? When people say whatever is being said is funny and witty, they don’t give credit to the script writer but when people say it is in bad taste, they say it’s done by the script writer. So, who exactly is doing this? Who is behind this public humiliation of some actors and film makers?
Humour is a very effective weapon when you want to insult someone and not get caught. You can say it was just a joke and get off the hook. That’s exactly what a certain section in the industry is doing for some time now. It started with the ‘Filmfare’ awards presented by Shahrukh and Saif. Since Shahrukh was not going to get any award that year he was given a chance to ‘Chamko’ on the stage and ridicule whoever he wants to. English media quickly applauded this and declared this act a hit. Some people were rubbed in a wrong way but nobody reacted very strongly as this was happening for the first time. People thought even though the joke was on them it was still a joke. But then it became a pattern.
Buoyed by media’s praise Shahrukh kept on taking potshots at everyone even in his interviews. He thought that now that the trial run was successful, he has the license to do it at will. He was the one who couldn’t resist doing it albeit in a toned down manner, from the very beginning. He was the one who said, Aamir Khan fans need an idol they can ‘look up to’ (an ugly comment on Aamir’s height) and ‘dropping a shirt is not my idea of acting’ ( this is on Salman even though he was a friend then) or ‘ Jumping from buildings is not acting’ (Akshay) and things like that. Shahrukh and actors-directors in his coterie get the complete media support and even members of the media participate in ridiculing or maligning people who dare to take ‘panga’ with Shahrukh or are his competitors in any way. (Read ‘Under Honey’s Hat’ in ‘HT’ or snippets in ‘Mid Day’ or ‘Mumbai Mirror’) If asked for an explanation these media people are also going to say that, it is just for fun, nobody takes gossip columns seriously, people just read and forget about it and that’s what people being ridiculed should do. Point being, certain people get attacked constantly with no platform to retaliate. So, why should rest of the industry tolerate this ‘humour’ with an agenda?
Have you ever seen any nasty comment on Shahrukh, Karan Johar, Farah Khan, Kajol etc? There is enough material to make fun of them. Popular Emcees, Anchors, presenters like Karan, Sajid, Shreyas Talpade, Farhan Akhtar, Ritesh Deshmukh are all close to Shahrukh. These are the people who are all over the TV and award functions and they obviously don’t make fun of their friends. So again, people who are not a part of the circle are ridiculed.
Even comedians like Johny Lever, Raju Srivastava have been cracking jokes on the industry for so long and nobody has minded that. Many mimics keep mimicking actors-directors and many a times that too in their presence but nobody has ever taken an offense to that. In fact you can see people having a hearty laugh on jokes being cracked them.
So, why have people suddenly started getting irritated by this? It’s because as I mentioned earlier, this has become a humour with an agenda. People at the receiving end have realized it and with no platform to retaliate, have become restless. This isn’t funny anymore and that’s why they have come to the extreme of not attending award shows. As it is most of the awards have lost their credibility. It’s the closeness to the organization giving away the awards, affinity to title sponsors or arrangement of presence at the show in return of an award, that works rather than the talent. Awards that still have some credibility and see a good attendance from the industry will soon become ‘camp’ shows if these selective humour attacks continue. As it is, it’s in bad taste to ridicule someone publicly for looks, for work he has put his heart and soul in, for problems in his or her personal life or for not being successful. When the humour is genuine and intelligent, when it is pertinent and in good spirit, it incites only a hearty laughter and appreciation. But when it has other motives, somehow it shows. The joke stinks and you can no longer defend it by saying that ‘It was just a joke!
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