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IN Desi ON 01 Oct, 2016
India has always been a victim of evils like casteism, racism, and gender inequality. Division of folks was done by caste, colour (complexion) and gender, and this is where immorality acquired our minds and we started being partial for each other. And in some or the other way, Indians are still slaves of centuries-long 'racism and casteism.' We're not very sure whether you will agree with this or not. But while scrolling down this piece, you will also think the same way undoubtedly.
The sad incident that took place recently with Gulaab Gang fame Tannishtha Chatterjee, when she went for promoting her movie 'Parched' in super hit comedy series Comedy Nights Bachao Taaza.(Comedy Nights Bachao Taaza is based on roast comedy and is doing noticeably well in making the audience smile).
Tannishtha Chatterjee would have never even thought of going through this bad phase. Her impeccable performance in the recent flick Parched was creating a great buzz in town and succeeded in grabbing critical appreciation too. In such happy times, Tannishtha encountered a humiliating moment of her life. The remarks made on her dusky complexion, proved so troublesome for this 35 years old actress, that she eventually walked out of ongoing shoot of Comedy Nights Bachao Taaza.
Comedy Nights Bachao is well known for the kind of humor they display, it is based on roast comedy. It features stand-up comedians, who take a dig at the celebrity guests invited to the show. They test their patience through farce humour and jokes on their personality and life. But as they say, ' Ati ka bhala na bolna, Ati ki bhali na chup' which means there has to be a certain limit to everything you say and everything you do. It seems like, while taking a jibe at Tannishtha at the show, comic crusaders went on to violate the limits.
Tannishtha was ready for the roast but was shocked to get roasted for her dark complexion. According to Tannishtha, in the initial part of the shoot she took it lightly but lost her cool when Krushna Abhishek and other comedians crossed the vicinity by saying "aap ko jamun bahut pasand hoga zaroor… kitna jamun khaya aapne bachpan se?"
Tannishtha was really annoyed to get remarked in an inappropriate manner. She got hurt about being humiliated on World television. While expressing about this traumatic situation Tannishtha said, "It was surprising that only thing they found to roast was my skin tone. I sat through the first segment to figure out whether there would be something else they would find to roast but that was in vain."
''I was there to promote the film Parched, which is about a lot of deep issues. I cannot stoop to such a level to promote my film," she added.( Source: ndtv.com)
Despite being extremely upset about the racial abuse she faced on Comedy Nights Bachao Taaza, Tannishtha thrashed the channel and the show by writing an open letter, which reads, "Something has shocked me out of my wits yesterday. I was invited as a guest to a popular comedy show called comedy night bachao to promote my latest release Parched with my director Leena yadav and my co-actor Radhika Apte. I was told that the flavor of the show is COMEDY and the purpose is to roast, humor, and offend. My perception of roast was formed by all the SNLs I watched over the years, and the commonly held perception that a roast is a celebratory humour at someone's expense . It is a mock counter to a toast."
She also wrote ,"I was actually looking forward to be roasted.And then this show began. And this was an entirely novel understanding of roast that equates itself with bullying. And to my utmost horror, I soon realized that the only quality they found worth roasting about in me was my skin tone. It began with " aap ko jamun bahut pasand hoga zaroor… kitna jamun khaya aapne bachpan se?" And went on in that direction… the only thing they could roast about a dark-skinned actress was of course her dark skin. They could identify me only with that. I could not believe I was sitting in a nationally televised comedy show in 2016 in Mumbai amid such regressive( I cant call it humor), and blatantly racist content. Though I was feeling suffocated, I decided to give it another chance, and sat through another equally offensive segment."
"Nothing changed. I could not sit there anymore. I had to leave. When I told the organisers what I felt, they said , "But we told you it is a roast!"I explained to them the common perception of roast and how it is different from bully. That there is no humor value in a joke about some ones physical attributes especially one that stems from deep prejudices. I don't think they got it. Some friends also told me don't take it so seriously, it's just a comedy. I think that's what the show also thinks. It's all fun and games! Except there is nothing funny about this. Precisely because -In a country where we still sell fair n lovely/handsome and show adverts, where people don't get jobs because of their complexion, where every matrimonial advert demands a fair bride or groom and the color bias is so strong, in a society which has a deep-seated problem with dark skin, which also has deep roots in our caste system , in a country where dark skin is marginalized, making fun of it is not roast. Even considering that dark skin is a joke comes from that very deep prejudice. And I tried to explain why this is not personal and it is a larger issue about what our mindset is."
"And why cracking jokes about deep biases in our society is irresponsible. And that it is not a question about apologizing to me, but propagating this idea and continuing with this mindset in the name of comedy is what is hugely problematic, specially because it is a popular show on a nationalized Chanel. It has nothing to do with the show at a personal level. But it leads to a larger debate. Why does skin tone still lend itself to jokes? How is it funny to call someone dark? I don't get it.. In a India of 2016 I still have to be apologetic about my skin tone? What is this white-skin hangover? Where does all our pride as a nation go away when it comes to the acceptance that most of us have a darker skin tone? Once I was asked " Your surname is Chatterjee? Oh you are Brahmin.. What is your mothers surname? Maitra! Oh…. She is Brahmin too…" And then indirectly he hinted how is my skin tone still dark… ? This is so deep rooted and linked to our perceptions of caste, class and skin tone. Upper caste =Fair skin =touchable. Lower caste=dark skin=untouchable. Yes I have pronounced it."
"Probably most of us will not admit to our hatred for the dark skin also comes from our caste bias. I made a film called Parched. Why I am saying "I made" is because all of us who are a part of this film feel that this was not just a film for us. That its MY FILM. We wanted to express a lot of things about gender, body, skin , sexuality , caste etc through our stories. It has been a revelation that the journey just begins here as we realise through our promotional process that we are constantly subjected to exactly those issues from which this film was engendered. The list is long long and the biases are deep deep….The privilege that allows these are what we had hoped to challenge."
This is indeed a brave step taken by Tannishtha Chatterjee to bring racial discrimination to an end. The Said programme enjoys considerable following among fans and can thus influence their opinion on such issues. It is hence expected of them to behave in a responsible manner. We hope things change after Tannishtha's courageous step.
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