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India Needs Comic Relief

India Needs Comic Relief

July 11, 2010

With the media evolving into a myopic mess and trust in news media at an all time low, how do we bring about a change?

November 2009: There was (still is) a major concern that the Chinese Army had destroyed a Buddhist statue near the Chinese border in Arunachal Pradesh in order to remove a landmark so that it gets easier to encroach upon Indian territory. It was around the same time the Chinese ambassador to India proclaimed on Indian soil that Arunachal Pradesh is a part of China. A little knowledge of history is enough to suggest that this was how China occupied Tibet and they are doing precisely the same with Arunachal Pradesh!

The security of our nation; the very face of our map is being threatened and one would expect a thorough coverage of the series of incidents by the media. But unfortunately for Arunachal Pradesh, Shilpa Shetty was getting married that week and her sister Shamita Shetty just dropped out of Bigg Boss (an Indian version of Big Brother) to attend the wedding. So the media showed the metaphorical middle finger and said, “Screw you Arunachal Pradesh, we have a wedding to attend!

April 2010: The BJP has organized a rally where thousands of people took to the streets to protest against the double digit inflation and the ever increasing prices. The media covered the incident with great gusto. Hundreds of news correspondents representing dozens of news channels were yelling into their mikes on the latest developments – the breaking news being, “BJP protest against price rise causes traffic jam!” Later that evening, expert panels were formed in the well-lit studios of New Delhi; professional opinion makers were earmarked in advance and invited. Some made it to the studios, those who couldn’t were live on the phone and all of them had an opinion – not on inflation… but on Delhi’s traffic!

Something is clearly wrong with the fourth pillar of the largest democracy when Sania Mirza getting married to a Pakistani man is hailed as a National Loss! Trust me, people in the country didn’t give a rat’s ass about Sania but the media just went on and on and on for about two weeks pissing off so many people in the process that the facebook page “Thank you Pakistan for taking Sania Mirza, Now Please take Rakhi Sawant also!” alone has almost two hundred thousand fans!

When I was in school, we had news readers on TV who used to read the news in a calm composed manner. Now that profession is obsolete. By obsolete, I mean that it exists only in Doordarshan. Instead, we have “news correspondents” shrieking or bellowing (depending on their gender) into their microphones 24x7. And yes, I forgot to mention. It’s not news anymore – it’s Breaking News!

So, why did our media evolve into such a myopic mess in just a matter of few years? Greed, TRPs, partisanship, competition between channels, the insatiable quest for breaking news… let’s not dwell on all those things. There has to be a simpler way to end this nonsense! As long as assassination is not an option, I think the solution lies in comedy and sarcasm.

Yes, you don’t have to read the previous sentence again, I said comedy and I was not being sarcastic! Standup comics have an advantage over everyone else in this increasingly politically correct and easily offended world we live in. The interaction between a standup comic and the audience is a unique stage where topics like class, race, religion, sexuality, gender bias etc. can be discussed without taboo by temporarily suspending the rules of political correctness.

While the news media is all about the cover stories and finer details, comedians are the ones who give a sense of perspective, debunk the status quo, challenge hypocrisy; compare social ideas with reality and point out the fluidity of social life. No wonder the most trusted newsman in the US is Jon Stewart, a comedian!

What India needs is a Richard Pryor to reflect on our prejudices, a Jon Stewart to engage the younger generation in political commentary, a George Carlin to tell us the truth as it is in the face, a Bill Maher to lay down some new rules, and a Lenny Bruce to start it all. We can also have a Jerry Seinfeld in the mix to make us laugh at ourselves and a Sarah Silverman so that this article won’t be labeled sexist :p.

What India needs is comedians who have the courage to get over Bollywood mimicry, Sardars and Laloos and go behind the Babus because that is what comedians ought to be doing. Until then, all we can do is keep our fingers crossed and hope that Shilpa Shetty doesn’t get married again because this time, it might cost us a lot more because of the double digit inflation ;).


  • ashu
    01.06.11 07:47 AM
    this guy called vir das used to do comedy on zoom he was good
    shekar sumit was also good..
  • Sourav Roy
    Sourav Roy
    29.08.10 09:25 PM
    Well Jayanth! You must see this!

    After the Chinese demands for Arunachal Pradesh, Google started fooling Indians as well! Google shows different maps for US, Indians and Chinese. In the Indian Version(, it shows Arunachal Pradesh as Integral Part of India. In the US Version(, it shows Arunachal Pradesh as a Disputed region. In the Chinese version(, it shows Arunachal Pradesh as an INTEGRAL PART of CHINA!

    When a trusted source like Google maps can do this, what do we expect from the media??
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    Jayanth Tadinada
    13.07.10 12:18 AM
    @Naren: I agree that Doordarshan still has nice programs. Doordarshan is the only channel in which classical music concerts are shown. No other channel gives importance to such an important aspect of our culture. But, the topic here are the news channels and I was only saying nice things about DD news here. The newsreaders are calm and composed and they read it real cool without much drama and nonsense. However, they being under the control of the govt. tend to be a little tight lipped at times.
  • Naren
    12.07.10 08:20 PM
    hi jayanth...that was a nice article...i also like to point out a line from ur own article that the problem is not entirely with the news channels,doordarshan still has some nice entertaining and informative programs,we as viewers are so indulged in seeing all crap channels and making them PRIME channels and then later blame them for not providing good news and stuff
  • Vasanth
    12.07.10 05:11 PM
    Good to see u here.
    @the rest of the world
    My top tip to all those who liked this is to read the article on printed media in India, which I think is also on gtosphere.
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    Jayanth Tadinada
    12.07.10 03:28 PM
    @Nikhil: Yeah, you should check out Jon Stewart and Bill Maher... awesome political commentary.

    @Pratyush: Thanks. The reason most people are hooked to useless channels is because they are more entertaining than the entertainment channels. The people of the country should accept some blame too for the current state events.

    Like @Saransh said, may be if they spend their time doing something more intelligent than staring at a screen, we can expect some change. We should not be entertained so easily, we should make them work hard to entertain us :)
  • Saransh
    12.07.10 02:40 PM
    Very well written. One thing that could be done is stop watching the Channels which just care about Masala and not reality ...

    And I am surprised to see you writing Articles :)
  • Pratyush
    12.07.10 12:37 PM
    Nicely written..
    You just captured my thoughts. I love watching DD News over these senseless news channels..
    Well, I haven't yet understood one thing though: why doesn't DD News enjoy such a popularity?
  • Nikhli Bhagia
    Nikhli Bhagia
    12.07.10 10:12 AM
    the sad thing is tht most of the media is sponsored by politicians.........they are paid to write for, or against any 1!!!
    ......besides, i see a possible positive contribution by the political cartoonists over here!.... :)
    PS: besides, i've never seen any of the comedians you mentioned apart from carlin & seinfield......time for some research, i guess! :)
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    Jayanth Tadinada
    12.07.10 03:55 AM
    @amol: Thanks.

    @sowmya: Yes, I have seen Cyrus do it on NDTV but it was more like Onion News. What we need is something like Daily Show (with Jon Stewart)

    @somani: Thanks man :)
  • Aditya  Somani
    Aditya Somani
    11.07.10 11:51 PM
    Nice one G2...well written and humorous, as always :)
  • Sowmya
    11.07.10 11:37 PM
    Good one Jayant - Cyrus the Virus did have a go at a show that combined news with comedy, if memory serves me right, but dont think it took off much!!

    Guess Barkha's barking into the mike is required for TRPs, though one might prefer Cyrus anyday!
  • Amol Naik
    Amol Naik
    11.07.10 09:56 PM
    Hey Jayanth,

    Nice perspective on the solution of sensationalist Indian news corporations. We do need to find humor :D
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    Jayanth Tadinada
    11.07.10 09:39 PM
    @Soumyasrajan: Yes, it is a deliberate attempt by the govt. to control the media... the mainstream English media is more anti-BJP than the congress itself! And also notice that every time some congress minister is in trouble, Tehelka cracks a BJP scandal in some crap investigation!
  • Soumyasrajan
    11.07.10 08:42 PM
    Hi! Jayanth
    Nice article. I think practically all Indians are concerned about this issue. Our fourth estate seems to be now quite lost in useless games. Do you not some time feel it is a little deliberate. After all dominating media and pres organizations as well political parties are being controlled in a little feudal manner by some families. I wonder how much of this loss is a deliberate policy by them.

    Yo over come this we need many more channels and a lot more comedy for sure!
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    Jayanth Tadinada
    11.07.10 08:22 PM
    @swaroop, Santhosh, KP: Thanks :)

    @Archana: yeah may be everyone with some sort of a power prefer a dumber public who cannot question things... but that makes up for a whole new entry :)
  • KP
    11.07.10 06:44 PM
    Very well written.. agree with you totally.
  • Archana
    11.07.10 06:15 PM
    It's disgusting, the way the Indian media is turning out. Gossip and nonsense stories are their "craving agents". It's like they are actively working on a way to create as dumb a viewer base as possible and play uncountabillion ads for which these dodos will fall for. And if China does eventually "take over" Arunachal Pradesh, I'm sure half population would have no idea that it ever happened and the other half wouldn't care.
    Great post!
    11.07.10 04:53 PM
    Awesome! Looks like these days u r goin at gr8 speeds... best wishes
  • Swaroop
    11.07.10 03:08 PM
    Nice one... It is time the news channels realize they were meant for something better.

    And I agree that stand up comedians do much better than the media... and so do some blogs (this one included).
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    Jayanth Tadinada
    11.07.10 02:33 PM
    Hey, Thanks.

    Yeah it is unfortunate that the news media has evolved into something like this. The problem is not just in India. More time is spent discussing the octopus than the actual football everywhere in the world!
  • Lazy Pineapple
    Lazy Pineapple
    11.07.10 02:14 PM
    hey good to see you writing here..
    I so agree with what you have written.
    The news channels are trying to outdo themselves in screaming and histrionics...ufff
    I just hate it when NDTV guys start talking...and the subjects the news channels cover these days are soooo sad...

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