A Toast to AIB Roast


I’m not the AIB (All India Bakchod) kinds. I don’t venture close to any of the “-chods” (For those who don’t know what am talking about, you could put some 3 minutes aside to watch an Indian Blockbuster hit – Gangs of Wasseypur, where you’ll find all genres of “-chod”s in full galore).

This little four-letter suffix is considered the most offensive in Indian parlance in general because even if you speak any of the 25-28 (this is my Alia Bhatt moment) regional languages, words with this suffix will pop up out of nowhere. Everyone is supposed to know this is offensive. I know it too, it’s been long, but I don’t know why. I have never been told or explained what the suffix means – I just caught on the collective vibes of outrage when it was spoken or heard and was inspired to follow suit at first. Later it dawned that only one thing can cause real offense across all categories of people. Need I say more?

Usually, the “-chod”s happen to be prefixed by references to one’s female progenitor, and perhaps that’s what makes them offensive too. But, whatever the reason, I’m not trying to find out now. I know enough to steer clear of any words with this suffix. That itself should be sign enough for all those “high-minded”, at times hoity-toity, culture savers, and culture vultures – and I belong to one of these categories if not all – to stay away. Like I did. I didn’t even get to see the video of the famed AIB Roast. If I had probably stumbled upon the video before the – to use an idiom in an inoffensive way – the biological derivative that can be scatologically referred to, hit the fan, I would have most probably closed it within the first minute, and more likely without laughing at it.

And finally, I could condense my entire blog, well not entirely, but at least compress its sense into two-three choice words, one of them being a four-letter one that starts with an F and rhymes with duck, the other being ‘them’, a pronoun, and the last one referring to one and all, easily, ‘all’. I, for one, have chosen to refrain and taken the long verbose route but I wish not to meander from that very sense in effect.

Because, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I am scared to offend people. I am. I just am. Oui, Je suis Charlie Hebdo and all that but I certainly don’t want to be The Charlie Hebdo that’s… never mind… ‘Coz I felt like going with a funny euphemistic reference from The Pink Panther 2, Steve Martin in full glory (the prison scene to be precise). There are things we can laugh at and there are things things we can’t laugh at.

Who decides? A sword, a gun, a government order, a religious edict, a legal commission, the society at large… They’ll hunt you, they’ll decommission you, they’ll shame you… all for words. They don’t answer with words for words. Guns against guns, guns against words. They don’t find it unfair. I find that offensive. I will, therefore, fight back with what ammo I have – more words, deeply thought rather than irrationally felt.

I sympathise with the AIB letter published after the controversy went viral, in The Mumbai Mirror (). As much as I want to talk about the defense of “freedom of speech”, I’d rather make a more urgent inquiry on this thing called “offense” – which seems to be the sole preserve of the high-and-mighty, those with heavy muscles and guns and the naked Fear-power therein. What is this thing called offense, and what is its physiology? Why do we have to take offense at some people laughing at one another, in the kind of language that you or I normally wouldn’t want to hear in our homes but pay a few hundreds to watch in a cinema hall (refer Gangs of Wasseypur) or would have felt “cool” mouthing off in a college brawl made worse by a drunken spree, that 4,000 “mature adults” – always a relative term, I know – have paid to watch in an enclosed space, and even when it was put up on the internet, has advisories for those under 18 to stay away?

And the worst part – Ashok Pandit’s tweet dragged Karan Johar’s mom into the bit. That’s what I find offensive. Karan is a grown man. If his mom doesn’t find her son being roasted offensive and the son certainly doesn’t, is it any business of ours? Also, he called it a porn show. Well, it is what it is to you. Even then, how’s it offensive? I see a silver lining about Mr. Pandit’s extreme sensitivities. Will he finally, F-I-N-A-L-L-Y, get those stoopid item numbers to pipe down? Less of B & A and Sunny Leone and mindless violence and pleeeeese oh puhleeez some sensible stories… no, because then the Bollywood juggernaut will stop rolling. Because that’s not offensive.

Saas-bahu pulling each other’s hair is not offensive.
Kapil’s comedy nights going viral with jokes that are vulgar in their stupidity and even otherwise, are not offensive.
Shaktiman series that resulted into the deaths of unsuspecting kids who tried to fly from their rooftops wasn’t offensive.
Politicians’ hatespeak is not offensive.
Indians in general just littering on the streets is not offensive. Nor is peeing if done by men.
For that matter, men “teasing” women – touching them, groping them, abusing them, molesting them, raping them in public is not offensive. It’s called eve-teasing. We’re women, we’re eves. We get teased into submission. That’s Indian culture, thank you very much.
Over a third of our legislators are facing criminal charges is not offensive.
Five Indians of a tycoon family living in a 27-floor building managed by a few hundred servants is not offensive.
That 30 crore Indians live in extreme poverty is not offensive.
That Indians in general don’t flush public toilets after use is not offensive.
At least half of Indian population does not have access to toilets is not offensive.
That suit – oh that pinstripe suit – is not offensive.
That little children are being raped is not offensive.
That senior citizens are being abandoned is not offensive.
That we have grown in terms of GDP but not in terms of civilisation is not offensive.
That we resort to guns and violence rather than come back at people with words and ideas, is not offensive.

You see, we pretend to be grown-ups, bearers of this high civilisation, and a high-minded culture but it took just a couple of people with a wicked sense of humour to strip us down to our naked selves – that little immature baby, who, when takes off running and falls down, learns from his mother to push and kick furiously at the earth for getting hurt. Like the Earth cares. It just goes on turning into another night and day, without umbrage.

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