#AIBKnockOut Detractors – Grow up!

Over the last one week, my FaceBook wall was full of #AIBKnockOut Roast with Ranveer and Arjun videos being shared. I am not a big fan of AIB so did not watch it for the longest time, until one day when I wanted to know what the fuss is all about!

I watched them. My take –

  • Some parts are hilarious! The Alia Bhatt and Sonakshi Sinha jokes had me in splits!
  • Fat jokes were too lame and too many. So were the black jokes..
  • Some were in bad taste – “To Rajeev Masand, everytime you call yourself a journalist, ISIS beheads a real one” – ISIS is such a huge threat to world peace at the moment, this reference could have been avoided
  • Some were just plain crass – You know which ones I am talking about

That said, I do believe comedy is all about insulting and offending. Stand-up comedians like #RussellPeters and #AzizAnsari have built their careers on racist comments and the like. If you can’t take it, don’t watch it. Before the start of the said video, there were clear age related statutory warnings. So all those of you who think the videos should have been taken down – GROW UP!!

“I may not agree with you, but I will defend to death my right to get offended. How dare you? Baahar mil.” – Desi Voltaire

Dear everyone,

Let’s just all take a deep breath. They’re just jokes. Unfunny, crass or whatever you want to call them, they’re still just jokes. The AIB Knockout video has been taken down. While we’d love to claim that it’s because so many people watched it that it broke YouTube, the truth’s a little sadder.

First things first; no one person or force forced us to take this video down. This is not something that’s happened because of a 3 am phonecall or a morcha at our front door or a gunman on a grassy knoll. Under the circumstances, this is us being pragmatic. Allow us to explain.

People who’ve been following our work will know that we’ve always tried to experiment with content be it on Youtube or a live comedy show, with the sole intent of making people laugh and/or think. AIB Knockout was another such attempt to try something new and bring the roast format to a country where celebrities aren’t often known to laugh at themselves. To our pleasant surprise, we managed to bring together consenting adults who were willing to be made fun of by other consenting adults in a crowd full of (wait for it) consenting adults. And if we’re honest, it was a phenomenally entertaining evening. Were the jokes repetitive? Crass? It didn’t matter because they happened in the spirit of irony and good humour. It was just liberating to be able to say those things, things that people have thought in one form or another privately for years. A lot of the laughter that night came from that spirit (there’s your answer, people who wondered why everyone was laughing at terrible jokes).

The video came with a clear disclaimer with several age and content warnings. No one was forced to watch it, we didn’t buy airtime on every single TV channel on Earth to broadcast it. YouTube videos do not magically auto-play in front of you. And yet the videos got over 8 million views. Far more importantly, on the video page, the people who liked them outnumbered the people who disliked them by ten times to one. Yes, ten times.

The format was the same as any international roast i.e. insult comedy, delivered in the form of one-liners designed to be as rude as possible. It is performed with the understanding that none of the material is to be taken seriously—none of the performers actually mean the “offensive” things they say to each other on the night. We clarify this simply to provide context.

With the Knockout, in our own juvenile, idiotic way, we wanted to push the envelope of comedy in this country. But then the envelope pushed back. Things got to a point where people who have supported us, people who work hard to make what we do come to life, were put in a position where things could get deeply unpleasant for them. And that’s a problem. We can live with abuse, hate, anger, fury, rage, ignorance, bigotry and perhaps even bullying. But we don’t want anybody to get hurt because of us. And we do mean anybody.

We hope it’s clear by now that we never write with the aim of hurting people. That’s not our goal and we daresay that no comedian ever does that. We don’t go to work and say, “Hmm, let’s offend XYZ people from XYZ community today.” If we really wanted to piss off people and hurt them, we’d be selling credit cards over the phone.

Our job is to raid the newspapers, pop culture and life for observations and analogies and it’s okay if you think we’re juvenile or unfunny. We respect arguments that are critical, and as for the arguments we don’t, we respect your right to make them without impediment. It is a courtesy we wish worked both ways.

Over the last few days, we’ve found ourselves subject to more scrutiny, judgment and opinion than we’re worth. This Knockout shouldn’t matter. In a secure culture it wouldn’t matter.

We’re lucky to have support pouring in from all quarters. First up, from our fans, just the greatest people in the world, who have nothing but good cheer and encouragement and positive thoughts. We were pleasantly surprised that people in power who we have made fun of in the past, including people from both the so-called right wing and left-wing, went out of their way to convey support to us. It was fantastic to know that they stand for free speech as much as us. Friends in the media have told us to stay our course, pledging their support for our right to say anything, no matter how ridiculous. Thank you to anyone who has stated in the last few days that we have the right to say what we want, not as comedians but more importantly as citizens of this country.

There’s a larger cultural conversation going on here, where we’re at the very edges of what it’s okay to say. And it’s a conversation we need to have now because the world we live in is entirely too complicated to be run by silences. We still stand by our belief in the right to absolute freedom of expression for us and for anyone who has anything to say about anything at all. We hope to be part of an environment that supports that sort of expression without fear of persecution, intimidation and most importantly, annoyance. As always, in our own AIB way we’ll continue to strive towards creating that very environment.

In the meantime, we’d like to say thank you to our fans and everyone else who is standing by us. You guys make the struggle worth it. To everyone railing against us and against the stars that were present, to everyone who’s decided we’re destroying the fabric of our culture, to everyone who’s called us seditious pornographers while plotting the downfall of Indian Values And Civilization As We Know It, we would like to reiterate that we are just a bunch of comedians who work, and have always worked, without any malicious intent whatsoever.

We encourage any and all conversation on the subject of freedom of expression, for our own silly selves, and for people better, smarter and more courageous than us. For hundreds and thousands of artists, commentators and any and all citizens that do not have the privilege of social platforms and reach that we do.

We are also cooperating with the authorities and hope to resume normal service soon. We’d like some sort of cheerful resolution to this so we can focus on more important national issues, like the upcoming Cricket World Cup.

P.S. Best of luck Virat Kohli. Sorry for the jokes. We heart emoticon you.

P.P.S. It’s a good thing nobody’s downloaded the file and put it on a torrent website or anything.

Life is so precious!

A few days back, I witnessed a very gruesome incident. I was walking up the stairs after getting my breakfast. I saw some huge thing fly. At first I thought it was a bird and then I heard a thud. My first instinct was that some luggage or a big bag fell down from one of the top floors. I peeped down from the railing and saw a young man’s limp dead body! I looked around stunned and called for help. Soon there was police and ambulance!

Later on we found that he was a young man of around 30 with a wife and a 3 year old daughter.

His dead body keeps floating in my mind.. I am unable to take it off my head. But what bothers me the most is a thought that I wish I could have reached him earlier and stopped him from taking this extreme step.

A look at his daughter’s face made me cringe on the cowardly and gruesome act! We face lots of hurdles in life and will have lots of challenges… suicide may seem like an easy way out sometimes but the problem that led you to end your life doesn’t resolve on its own… not to mention the tremendous pain you subject to everyone who loved you! That little girl for no fault of her own is now an orphan at the age of 3!!! She will never know her father! His wife is now a widow at the age of 30! She will spend her life taking care of their daughter on her own!

I hope and pray for his soul to find peace but I also wish he hadn’t done this. Life is too precious to end like this… It is beautiful! Yes there are sad days but also ones full of bliss! To concentrate only on the bad is unfair!

Always remember to face life’s problems head on and fight like a brave soldier!

Baby Food: Avocado Paratha

Age Group: 9 months onwards (Once the baby starts to chew a little)

Ingredients:

1 Avocado, 1 cup wheat flour, salt as per taste

Method of cooking:

  1. Cut open the avocado and take the pulp out
  2. Knead the dough with the pulp and some salt
  3. Make thin pancakes (Rotis) on the stove. Add little ghee
  4. Serve with any curry/curd

Nutritional Benefits:

Avocado is a very nutritious fruit, specially for the development of children. However, due to its bland taste and texture, there is little you can do with it. I was bored with Guacamole so decided to give this a try and it was a hit :)

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge! Yayyy!! Oh wait, what is ALS?

Dear readers-who-have-taken-the-ice-bucket-challenge, I would like to ask you one simple question: “Do you know what is ALS?”

Social media and the ensuing #ALSIceBucketChallenge madness has given a whole new meaning to “Herd Mentality”! I have at least 50 odd friends who decided to take on the challenge. My facebook page is brimming with home videos of friends in various stages of undress emptying buckets onto their heads. They feel a sense of pride in having done that and it is evident as you see their proud, beaming faces! But wait… they do realise that emptying bucket means they wont have to donate. So, does that pride come from not having to part with $100? Tricky question as I try to wrap my head around the psyche! I am pretty sure some donated even as they took a very public ice-water bath! Then, you may ask, why waste water?

As much as my mind and rationale tells me otherwise, in some strange ways, this whole brewhaha and the accompanied inanity has met the much desired outcome! ALS campaign managed to raise over $31.5M!! You cannot have a better example of “Any publicity is good publicity”!! I, for one, did not know anything about ALS! Somewhere people making a fool of themselves prompted me to go find out more. So, with a hope that the money will be put to good use and we will soon have a cure for the dreaded disease, I am thankful to whoever started this campaign.

Does that make someone, who suffers from an equally dreadful moto-neuron disease, but a lot more widespread (like Multiple Sclerosis), cringe at the response? Probably yes! As much as my heart goes out to all suffering from ALS (around 30000 in the US), I also wish something was done for those suffering from MS (around 2.5M worldwide)! And this is just one example! If someone were to start an #IceBucketchallenge for another disease, no one would even take notice! It’s time now to think of the next weird thing! For all you know, it may end up saving many lives!

Plz throw away the bucket and donate! They need your money more than Mother Earth needs your water.

On that note, here is a hilarious compilation of all challenges gone wrong :)

Baby Food: Sooji Kheer

Age Group: 6-8 months

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons Sooji (Rava), 1 cup water

Method of cooking:

  1. Roast the Sooji in a pan till it is brown in color
  2. Bring water to a boil. Add the sooji and simmer for 10 minutes, whisking constantly
  3. Mix in formula or breast milk or juice and add fruits if desired

Nutritional Benefits:

Sooji should ideally be the first cereal you start your baby on. It is healthy and very easy to digest. Initially start with a few teaspoons and then slowly increase the quantity if the baby takes to it.

Baby Food: Barley Cereal

Age Group: 6-8 months

Ingredients:

1/4 cup ground barley (barley ground in blender or food processor)
1 cup water

Method of cooking:

1. Bring water to a boil. Add the barley and simmer for 10 minutes, whisking constantly
2. Mix in formula or breast milk or juice and add fruits if desired
3. Serve warm

Nutritional Benefits:

Eating barley is believed to help regulate blood sugar, lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease and certain types of cancer. Interestingly, research has shown that it is also useful in protecting against childhood asthma.

It contains amino acids, lots of fibre (ounce for ounce, three times as much fibre as oatmeal), B vitamins, iron, selenium, copper, manganese and phosphorus.

Hows everyone been? :)

So, I became a mom 6 months back and life has been super duper busy since then :) As things are beginning to get exciting, I feel like penning down some of my thoughts sometimes and some things I have learnt in the past 6 months…

Hopefully, I will be able to blog a little more frequently now :)