Jugular Vein: Does The Media Have It Or Not?

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Kapil Arya has an interesting take on the quirky world of Indian media

WHEN WAS the last time you saw something that was rib-tickling in a film or on the tube? And before you begin perambulating on the memory lane to zero in on that moment, look through all the base humour-ridden films. Also, while scanning the archives in your head, exclude those television shows of stand-up comedy which have deluged our sets and one has to discern whether the participants’ jokes or the judges’ laughter is contrived.

It has to be agreed that the Indian media is bereft of a sense of humour. There is a certain banality which shrouds it.

On the other hand, humour is an inextricable part of the media landscape. What can be better proof than personalities like Jay Leno and David Letterman, who have risen to the pinnacle of fame because their brand of humour is loud and subtle at the same time.

See what happens in India. Three ‘funnymen’, as colloquialism would have it, can be counted on the small screen: Shekhar Suman, the erstwhile presenter of an entertainment show; and the two namesake VJs on a music channel — Cyrus Broacha and Cyrus Sahukar. The former hosts a satire show The Week that Wasn’t on a national news channel that can certainly tickle the ribs.

In print, the cartoons of RK Laxman are incredibly witty and have had a brilliant satirical element to them. Jug Suraiya and Neelabh’s daily cartoon called Dubyaman began appearing in TOI post 9/11. With the passage of time Jug Suraiya started using it to show the vagaries of Indian polity in a comical light. Also, shows like Gustaakhi Maaf, Poll Khol and Movers and Shakershave humour all over them.

But is the media solely to blame for the gaping void in humour? Maybe not. Indians are way too touchy and launch obstreperous protests if something that remotely pokes fun at them appears in print or broadcast media. And this isn’t an exaggeration of the Indian sensitivity. Indians are born sensitive.

When it comes to politics or show business the media can satirise perennially. But it’s time the media began to look at itself in the house of mirrors — all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, after all.

Arya studies at the Amity School of Communication, Amity University. E-mail: [email protected]

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