"Am absolutely shocked. Disrespect is not cool and neither is it funny”
Indian stand-up comedian, Tanmay Bhat is at the centre of immense backlash after posting a comedy video that supposedly insults national icons Lata Mangeshkar and Sachin Tendulkar.
As one fourth of the comedy group All India Bakchod (AIB), Tanmay roasted the Indian celebrities in a new video posted onto his Facebook page on May 26, 2016.
The video is made up of a collection of Snapchats where Tanmay has superimposed the faces of cricketing hero Sachin and melody queen Lata onto his own.
Titled, ‘Sachin vs Lata Civil War’, it sees Tanmay in the character of Sachin talking about cricketer Virat Kohli. Lata Ji joins the conversation in support of Virat and the two engage in a verbal war of abuse and insults, some which really hit close to the heart:
“Lata, very respectfully I would like to add that you are like 5,000 years old, so please stay the phuck out of this. Have you seen your face? It looks like someone has kept you in water for eight days. You know Jon Snow died, so you should also.”
Tanmay captions the video as: “Sachin vs Lata Civil War (I make such nonsense on my Snapchat – follow me there – ID: Thetanmay) (Also I obvously love Lata and Sachin, just having some fun).”
While he has expressed that the roast is in jest, many dedicated fans of Sachin and Lata Ji are unconvinced, labelling the video as offensive, disgusting and disrespectful.
The video which has seen 450,000 views on Facebook has triggered an outcry from fans and the public alike. The news has even reached the Mumbai Police, who is currently investigating the situation and have requested Facebook and Google to remove the video from Tanmay’s page.
DCP of Operations, Sangramsingh Nishandar, said while a complaint has been received, an FIR has not yet been issued:
“The transcript will be studied and legal action will be taken accordingly. We have written to Google and Facebook to block the video.”
One fan, Priyanka commented just below the Facebook post, saying: “Pls Mr Tanmay. Being a sport is different from truly insulting with clear intention. Request you to kindly hold on to your enthusiasm and think twice before you act on something so stupid. We do like AIB, but liking AIB more than our idols is next to impossible. So sorry we do not agree or appreciate your disrespect.”
freedom of expression doesn't mean humiliation or being abusive it's a right to hold opinion without seeking cheap exposure #TanmayRoasted
— srushti Dange (@srushtiDange) May 30, 2016
Even celebrities have expressed their outrage. Popular comedy actor Riteish Deshmukh tweeted: “Am absolutely shocked. Disrespect is not cool and neither is it funny.”
Anupam Kher added: “I am 9 times winner of #BestComicActor. Have a great sense of humour. But this’s NOT humour. Disgusting & Disrespectful.”
— Anupam Kher (@AnupamPkher) May 29, 2016
Interestingly, Kamaal R Khan, who is not short of controversial comments himself tweeted: “I can’t understand why do they insult old n legend ppl in the name of comedy? No fair!”
As the hashtag #TanmayRoasted has been going viral on Twitter, many Indian News Channels have been debating the roast, and whether Tanmay Bhat should be made accountable for his insensitive and ‘insulting’ video.
The phrase ‘freedom of expression’ has surfaced several times, with many arguing where India should stand on the issue of openly roasting beloved Indian icons.
Comedian Sorabh Pant argues that making a joke should not be a crime, saying: “I’m not backing this joke; I am backing my right to make any kind of joke.”
But Shiv Sena leader Neelam Gorhe wrote to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis requesting them to take further action, referring to the people who made the video as those with ‘deranged mentality’:
“Such people try to misuse the popularity of icons like Sachin and Lata tai for their own publicity. I have also written to Mumbai Police Commissioner seeking action against Tanmay Bhat and AIB,” she said.
Even Censor Board Chief, Pahlaj Nihalani has reportedly said: “Banning is not enough, Tanmay should be arrested.”
The last time the AIB came under such severe scrutiny was the public roasting of Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor in 2015. Such celebrity roasts, which are popular in America and the UK, are still seeking acceptance in India.
The live event which featured Bollywood celebrities in attendance was later banned due to its severity and insensitive material. Tanmay even referred back to the Knockout Roast, tweeting:
Roast wale din yaad aa gaye by god pic.twitter.com/VgEPkaZy9e
— Tanmay Bhat (@thetanmay) May 29, 2016
It is evident that while AIB have a cult following across India and are admired for their open humour that allows Indians to laugh at themselves, such roasting of celebrities and icons is still a sensitive subject.
Tanmay Bhat could now face similar legal action with his recent Facebook post, if the Mumbai Police opts to press charges against the offensive video.