Director: Jaideep Varma
Features: Vir Das, Raju Srivastav, Johnny Lever, AIB guys
The documentary was released last week on the back of controversy around AIB Roast. They made use of the issue and the title to make the maximum out of the timing of the release to make it seem out to be more on that particular issue. It works more like a film that charts the evolution of stand-up comedy in India, relatively a recent phenomenon. India's audience is unique when compared to their Western counterparts in the sense that there is a higher probability of them taking offense rather than the comedians being heckled on stage. It is a place with pretty low sense of humor and I don't mean people don't laugh but that the standard of humor required to generate laughter is pretty low.
Film can be described as 75% on the history and the current scenario of stand-up comedy in India and the rest 25% on the troubles that they face when some assholes get offended by it. I would have preferred a little bit more of the latter because it is something that I really feel strong about. I am not really a stand-up comedy aficionado and tend to listen to only those guys who confirm my own worldview like Bill Hicks, George Carlin and Bill Maher. Anti-establishment liberal voices are not very prominent in the Indian scene. From the guys featured in this documentary, I guess Varun Grover's seems to have the kind of material that I will enjoy. India is severely lacking in Satirical and fearless take on current affairs in the mould of 'Real Time with Bill Maher' or 'Last Week Tonight' and I hope something worthwhile comes soon enough because the corporate owned mainstream media does not look capable of being the anti-establishment voice.
In the documentary the comedians give their twopence on their own trade and it is done in an interesting way so that you get different take on same things. There will be someone contradicting what someone else said immediately before and you get a sense that like genres in film, stand-up comedy also gives same kind of variety in its offerings. I prefer people who take a critical look at current affairs and ideological issues to the ones who have got a permanent sketch like routines and jokes based on stereotypes (Russell Peters-lite). I do think the documentary was kind rushed and looks a bit uneven in its tone maybe because they wanted to make use of the AIB thing.
I guess I will also my take on AIB Roast controversy for what it is worth. The roast itself was not very funny and since I consider Bollywood to be the lowest form of entertainment in India and the people involved with it the ultimate lowlifes, it is not a surprise that I didn't enjoy their circle-jerk. It is not that hard to make fun of couple of guys who are very low in the Bollywood food chain. My dismissal of the show's quality is not a hindrance for supporting them when the controversy occurred because it is a matter of freedom of speech and it is a big issue in India. They have went on to make an apology to a fucking priest of all people and that kind of restored my low respect for these people and their material. This documentary is funnier than their AIB Roast thing and is a recommended watch. I enjoyed that particular instance where a pilot in the audience clarifies that they don't actually engage in in-flight sex, and that kind of sums up our sense of humor.