Tired of listening to the taunts of being jobless? Does your mother too rant the daylights out of you? What if I tell you a job where all you have to do is make impressions on a paper with no compulsion whatsoever upon the sensibility of the same and also a good fair chance of striking gold? Yes my friend you got it right! Your job as a scriptwriter at the Indian film production awaits you. Not only you get paid some crazy load of cash for writing something whose level of comprehensibility equals that of the doodle on your table, but also the opportunity to go “modern-artish” with something on its way to affect probably crores of minds.
The Indian entertainment industry is on the pinnacle of success and the bottom of its sanity. If you switch on an average living-room television set in India and try to look for sensible content, chances are that you are gonna end up either falling asleep flipping the channels or give up completely. The fun part is that you could tell me anything about an Indian soap opera and I would believe you. I seriously would believe even if you told me that in a daily soap with some hundred word long name (which kinda sorta maybe resembles the lyrics or the hook of a song) had some saas order the bahu to herd giraffes who kept eating cupcakes on some planet like Kepler-22B for 5 months, because any serial writer in this country would stoop to any depth to cross the “milestone” of ten grand episodes. If you find THIS ridiculous, you’ve just felt the tip of it.
Given the type of content that is aired on the tv and silver screen these days, there is a serious question raised on the magnitude of human threshold sensibility. Either it is the people making such “commendable” programmes who are underestimating the basic intelligence of their audience or it is us overestimating theirs. The only logical stuff that I watched before completely losing my affinity towards hindi television was cartoon network. If you are 90s kid you would have probably seen the initial rise and subsequent downfall of the level of sense in the television; to me, it actually hurt, seeing the IQ of the indian creative writing teams fall rapidly in front of my very eyes. Change happened, but for the worse. The lack of variety in content punched the primitive television right in the face and paved the way for the new fad, cable tv. The Indian television went from Doordarshan, (a channel popularly known as ‘pardon?’ and ‘whas that?’ in today’s teenage peer groups) via cable tv, to “Sansani” and “Star Parivar Awards”, the standards touching a new low with each new channel.
The cinema is no good either. With all its shimmer migrating to the tv. Prior to the release of every new movie, you can see two or more of its actors doing some incredulous cameos in every drama, making special appearances on reality shows and doing all nonsense you can think of. I’d rather let your imagination go wild. Last week i literally saw Shahrukh Khan on 4 different shows that too on 4 different channels giving shape to most of the results of your imagination. Leaving a handful of directors, no one today focusses on a meaningful script or at least questions the legitimacy of the cinema they produce. Because for such filmmakers it is something intolerably unjust to compromise their earnings due something as trivial as rationale! And we as audience shove it off as we categorize any such film under the very broad terms like “commercial films” and “bollywood masala movies”. The music industry too hasn’t spared any efforts towards staying loyal to its cinematic origins in its ways. I mean you know there’s something horribly wrong with the music preferences of a country’s citizens when their answer to the question “Who’s your favourite pop musician?” is Honey Singh.
So with the small screen holding no promise, the bigger one being at its wits’ end, and even the neighbours house becoming much less interesting after the invention of the former two, is there any silver lining to look out for? Something a tad bit more ambitious? Probably yes! The rise of Indian standup comedy.
In the past decade and a half, this exotic species called the “standup comics” has seen a rapid increase in its growth patterns, all across the country. Carrying the legacy of Jaspal Bhatti and Shekhar Suman, forward, these comedians have already found a soft corner in people’s hearts, or at least the younger lot who respects logic and appreciates the ones pertaining to it! With the springing up of numerous open mics in various Indian cities, the new industry is trying to deem in the already saturated entertainment arena. Coming up with fresh ideas like podcasts and online sketches, these standup comics are either on their way of getting a devoted fan following or already have one. As for now many standup groups like East India Comedy and AIB have become household names already and have their shows lined up not just in India but also abroad. Owing to their quick popularity these people have also endeavoured to make social impacts through their videos using topics like victim blaming, net neutrality etc.
Yes the stand-up scene in India is most promising but just in case you too are feeling optimistic, you’re probably new to India. There is hardly any incentive for making a career in standup comedy in this country. Because in an average Indian middle class home, telling your parents about considering an off-beat career like stand-up generally has hazardous consequences; it’s literally Armageddon. And the ones who dare to be the torch-bearers stand a constant risk of getting themselves shot or slapped in public because India probably cannot handle silly jokes on themselves. India might be the fastest growing nation in terms of economy but apparently not in its mindset.
Though their supporters outnumber their critics by huge margins these stand-up comics still have barriers quite high to cross. They have sure travelled quite a lot on their own but the rest depends on us, the people of this country. Even today India has a choice, between letting this high-potential low-resource industry flourish and taking it as a mere fad that may fade away to oblivion; come on people! we can still choose logic over increasing the TRP’s of India TV. Well, tilI the decision boils up I might as well catch up with those giraffes’ death sequence. I heard they died of food poisoning.