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It Takes Laughter To Get A Point Across In India And ‘On Air With AIB’ Proves It

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By Navneet Arora:

All India Bakchod (AIB), is a name that has come into limelight in the mainstream media, and has gained prominent attention recently because of the controversial AIB Roast which created a divided opinion throughout the country regarding its content.

For all those who know, AIB has done some hilarious podcasts and outrageously funny sketches in the past. But the popularity that they received after the Roast, one can say, has really helped them. Because for the first time in India, a YouTube channel, which a few years back was an alternative to television, is slowly merging ways with the mainstream. The boys from AIB have bagged a proper show on Hotstar, called ‘On Air With AIB’.

Image source: Twitter
Image source: Twitter

When the show was first announced, I was expecting that they would have to mellow down their content for this platform and anticipating to see what they could do for an audience beyond YouTube. But when I saw the first episode of ‘On Air With AIB’, my opinion changed. This time they have come up with the format of a comedy-news show. It is pretty clear that ‘On Air with AIB’ is a show on the lines of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. It is presented like a news show with AIB’s witty and sly additions throughout.

It often happens that people turn off the news because they find it too depressing. But what AIB has done is to bring to our notice the same issues with a lot of humour. They set us on a thinking spree while making us laugh.

Their trick was revealed in a statement by Rohan Joshi from AIB recently, who said, “The number one way to get an argument across is to make people laugh. The moment they laugh, they have let their defenses down,” at the India Today Conclave 2015.

Apart from the content of this show, the comedy is not something we regularly see on Indian television. And they take a dig at the same in the first 2 minutes of their first episode when Tanmay Bhatt says, “Agar aap ye show apne tv par dekh rahe hain aur soch rahe hain ki ye mard aurat ke kapdon mein kyu nahi hain, to Kapil ka show dusre channel pe hai.” (If you are tuning into this show and wondering why this man here is not dressed in a woman’s outfit, then Kapil’s show is on the next channel, you can go there)

Will It Be Able To Connect With Audiences Apart From The Youth?

I believe it will. The reason being that the content of the show is not simply meant for the youth, unlike some of their videos on YouTube which one cannot necessarily watch with one’s parents. But this show has content that is relevant across ages and raises issues that everyone, regardless of their age, should be aware of.

Now given AIB’s image after the Roast, would a person’s parents or grandparents be interested in watching the show? But the fact is that issues raised in the show are equally relevant to them as well. Vaibhav Raj, 2nd year student at Delhi Technological University says, “I’m pretty sure that on a general level people will be a little uneasy to watch it with their parents because of a few sections, but saying this I don’t think there should be a problem for most, because firstly – it is not vulgar that might make you refrain from showing it to them, and secondly most parents today are slowly getting in sync with the times and will probably have a good laugh.

Impact Of Such A Show

John Oliver did an episode on net neutrality after which the people got to know that there was very less time before the website of Federal Communication Commission (FCC) was to stop accepting petitions. As a result of the people’s overwhelming response after watching the show, the FCC website crashed. While it is difficult to say how much of an impact AIB’s show will have, it would really be a first if India would respond positively to the show.

Image source: Twitter
Image source: Twitter

Before this, the show Satyamev Jayate did have a positive impact to some extent as it brought to our notice things we should know about. In a sense, AIB is doing the same while tickling our funny bone. Thus justifying the title track of the show, ‘Tragedy mein Comedy’. Although we have had shows like Movers and Shakers in the past which used satirical comedy, AIB’s strong youth connect adds to the essence.

I have watched all episodes, but the episode on fire safety blew my mind. The show bluntly brings to the surface our ignorance about issues that are very much relevant to us. It was so disheartening to see that what sort of a life do whistleblowers lead in our country. It made very clear that the politicians in this country are making laws to protect the corrupt and punish the ones who raise their voice. They even showed how other countries have uprooted an entire government because a whistleblower’s identity was hidden for almost 30 years. And very rightly pointed out that in India, whistleblowers are like ‘Rahul, naam to suna hi hoga’,” says Sakshi Jain, 2nd year student of Lady Shri Ram College.


AIB new show
Image source: Twitter

AIB through this attempt has simply not picked up political leaders to make spoofs about, but have actually delivered nuanced details about the topic they wish to discuss, whether it is about the lives of whistleblowers in our country or fire safety and the appalling condition of fire-fighters in India or the violence inflicted on innocent people in police custody. AIB does the noble deed of gnawing the layers of complacency over our conscience.

At a time when there is allegedly an air of growing intolerance within the country and when you know that this is a country where people are ever ready to lock horns at the slightest of provocation, infact are waiting to be provoked, AIB comes up with so much courage to talk about issues that are generally ignored, deliver their point, leave us wondering and yes, make us laugh.

In terms of comedy, one can see two objectives of the show. First – Take comedy seriously. And second – Don’t get too serious and learn to laugh.

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