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‘Kill Muslims’ Is OK To Say But Make No Fun Of Tendulkar. Excuse Me?

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By Lipi Mehta:

I have been following Tanmay Bhat on Snapchat for a while and honestly, I look forward to his Snap Stories, however ridiculous they might be. I loved that he explained why feminism isn’t a bad word in a recent Story, despite being aware of the hate he’d get from his followers (An FB comment on his video reads, “In the country of bitches and feminist, men are slaves”). I liked how he followed up on this, answered some questions and explained misandry in his next video. But here’s something I never expected – that a Tanmay Bhat Snap Story would be national news.

Titled ‘Sachin Vs Lata Civil War’, Bhat’s story uses the ‘face swap’ feature on Snapchat to create an imaginary dialogue between Lata Mangeshkar and Sachin Tendulkar (both played by Bhat) and is basically a 2-minute video of ridiculous nothingness. I say this because it really is that – it’s a made-up dialogue between two people you wouldn’t imagine talking this way in real life. Some found it funny, some found it distasteful, but some really, really took offence and thought it was a national threat – a threat to the legacy of Tendulkar and Mangeshkar, a threat to Marathi culture, a threat to the collective nationalist sentiment of the country.

And so, the usual jing-bang followed: Twitter was ablaze with equal parts anger and humour, newspapers and news channels took a piece out of the cake and in what seems like a first in recent times, Arnab Goswami actually had a TEN-member panel debating on whether “Tanmay Bhat has gone too far”. No seriously, take a minute to soak in this visual travesty:

newshour screenshot

However, I think the real question should be: Have we gone too far? Tanmay made a stupid video but the responses to it are really something we shouldn’t take pride in.

1. Our political leaders think the solution is violence

MNS chief Raj Thackeray has actually filed an FIR against Bhat and party leader Ameya Kopekar said, “Forgiveness won’t do, these people should be caught on the road and beaten up. We will protest and he won’t be able to come out on the road. We won’t let his shows happen anymore.” Yep, because that’s what we do best. Step 1: Threat | Step 2: Violence | Step 3: Curb freedom of speech | Step 4: ‘Protect’ the nation like a boss. And if you’re wondering how ‘insulting’ someone is freedom of speech, just to remind you: a ton of hate speech exists online and nobody seems to be wondering how that’s even a thing.

Is it just me or is anyone else thinking about the ‘glorious’ days of Section 66A when two girls were arrested for a Facebook post on Bal Thackeray? It was a victory for free speech that Section 66A was scrapped but I guess Tanmay’s right to use the internet and its services freely warrant an arrest in this case.

2. The media needs to really learn these two things: What’s relevant and how to fact check

As a reaction to his video going viral, Bhat tweeted: “Please pay me @Snapchat. It was obviously a joke, and a reaction to the social media platform being in the mainstream limelight in India probably for the first time.” NewsX and Aaj Tak were outraged however: How could Bhat demand money for such an insulting video?

Scroll screenshot






Are you kidding me?! They evidently need to lighten up, and if not that, then fact check at least. Also, this is literally the repercussion that teens using Snapchat will have to bear, now that the mainstream media has ‘called him out’:

But not to be left far behind was Bangalore Mirror, that actually ran a story about Rega Jha (Editor of Buzzfeed India) supporting Tanmay Bhat. It’s fascinating how in 100 words or so, you can produce a cringeworthy news story, but Mirror performed really well on that front. They said Jha “happens to be” politician Sanjay Jha’s daughter (she isn’t) and added that she supports Bhat but is no “background prop either” as she heads one of India’s largest websites. When the news is about Bhat, how does it even make sense to run a news story on Jha? What is the connection? And of course, a woman who “isn’t just a background prop” and “happens to be” a politician’s daughter?! Wow, that’s amazing! Just two things to keep in mind, Mirror: Fact check and relevance.

3. Why don’t we ever give a reality check to ourselves?

Actor Riteish Deshmukh tweeted and said being ‘disrespectful is not cool and neither it is funny’. Yes, I agree, it isn’t. But it’s also not funny to mock and disrespect transgender people or those who cross-dress like Deshmukh did in ‘Humshakals’ (despite how Bollywood already has a history of horrific trans representation). Journalist Bhupendra Chaubey took on Bhat in his news show and said, “It’s time that our 2.0 type comedy kings spend some time honing their craft.” Chaubey ji, what about honing your craft? Need we remind you of your disastrously sexist interview with Sunny Leone?

And for those of you who’ve felt outraged, offended or insulted by Bhat’s video, fat shaming and rape jokes are really not the way forward. Neither is saying that his brain is the “cunt of a slut” or that he is a “fat bastard”.

4. We clearly don’t outrage about what matters.

Is this really that big a deal that the Mumbai Police’s cyber cell has approached Google, Facebook and YouTube to take down the ‘controversial video’? Clearly, the cyber cell has better things to do (or so we’d hope!). And what is with us being so outraged when two of our ‘cultural icons’ are ‘insulted’ but we don’t see such outrage when Yogi Adityanath says *really* scary shit like how Muslims’ voting rights should be snatched, and how (kid you not) dead Muslim women should be raped? What about when Babu Bajrangi said he felt like “Maharana Pratap after killing Muslims” and boasted about killing pregnant women? Was the cyber cell called to take these videos down?

And why didn’t we outrage when Kapil Sharma physically harassed his on-screen wife (or some or the other character on his show) almost every night in the garb of comedy? Nope, that’s family entertainment for us, isn’t it? Why is our concern about the drought in Maharashtra seen only when a ridiculous hashtag like #SnapchatOrDrought trends?

Well, while many of us get easily offended by something that’s ‘insulting’ or makes us uncomfortable, let’s please focus on what really matters, and not forget that such a response speaks of us poorly as a society. Amidst all this outrage, I personally like how Bhat hasn’t bowed down, though he did take the best protective measure of today’s time. He tweeted: ‘bharat mata ki jai‘.

You must be to comment.
  1. bluesky

    Freedom of speech is for a select group in India. There is no right to free speech,
    If you are the right demographic then it’s your right to be offended and beat the shit out of anyone who doesn’t agree with you.

  2. Anil

    Arre didi, kyun hasati ho itna. We do not create outrage on these cases because hardly anyone has ever heard of these 2 bit scumbag yogis(Adityanath and Babu Bajrangi). Sachin and Lata are national icons revered and respected throughout the length and breadth of India, for their immense talent and contribution to their country. You are seriously defending(in a subtle way, not directly) the guy’s actions. Please, the internet and its services are not free to be used by anyone as per their wish if it means degrading and insulting absolutely anyone, let alone deserving national icons. I am sure you would feel the same. Seriously, your arguments feel like you are just grasping at straws, while extreme actions should not be taken, I feel that the outrage is absolutely justified, and should give a message to those who think they can ridicule whoever they want on the internet, without thought for the other person’s feelings.

  3. bharti

    OMG ! This article – not as a reaction but respond – is so much balanced and matured ! Congratulations.

  4. CV


    Well written article (Your name is Lipi so it’s obvious) quite a balanced and detailed oriented article.
    I agree with every point you have mentioned and there is no objection to it.
    If it is insulting to someone then they should come up and outrage about it. They are icons so they don’t believe in giving any hype to these kind of videos.
    But, media and politician need a way to make an issue out of it and desperately looking to surpress the voice of the youth.

    If, as an Indian, we can’t respect any religion or people then Lata and Sachin are no different.

    We kill on the name of religion differences and insults then this is too small video in front of it.

  5. Pratyush

    So you think rediculing a religion is worst than rediculing an individual? I think it is otherwise, rediculing a religion is good but not individual. So slut shaming and fat shaming are bad but age shaming not? Obesity is avoidable not growing up… Physical of course.
    Although I agree it was more of a page3 outrage than a national one, not that serious and should have not occupied that stage.
    So please, A fat guy makes a joke on old guy, the old guy makes a joke on fat guy… This makes both of them ‘bad taste jokers’ and does not justify each other’s joke. But yes legally they both have privilege to do so.

  6. Gaurav

    I think Everyone has different perspectives nd different thinking about any incident
    But I just wanna say that if that video really feels offensive to Sachin sir and lata mam… dont u think they comes out the first to give any kind of reaction and file complaint against it .. They have rights right…But no… except them everybody is fighting for them over internet..

  7. Gaurav

    I think Everyone has different perspectives nd different thinking about any incident But I just wanna say that if that video really feels offensive to Sachin sir and lata mam… dont u think they comes out the first to give any kind of reaction and file complaint against it .. They have rights right…But no… Instead of them everybody is fighting for them over internet..

  8. Hakim

    @Anil’s Comment is just crap… you ruined my day. May God help you.

  9. Mohamed

    Excellent opinion.. Well balanced
    Unfortunately its the powerful ones in our country who want to decide what the rest of the
    country may deem important. Its the powerful ones who decide who gets justice and who doesn’t.
    Moreover Instead of focusing on the REAL issues, what takes precedence
    nowadays is what one must eat and not eat and what slogans to utter to re-affirm our patriotism.
    Media is sucking up to sensationalism (Just look at Arnab wasting time with ten people on a worthless issue)
    Its a pathetic crisis our country is going through.

  10. Anil

    Care to elaborate kind sir? I know people like us should, according to you not even have an opinion, freedom of speech exists only for you. BTW, sorry that I ruined your day by telling the truth opposing your biased views.

  11. oyindrila basu

    Dear Lipi,

    Your opinion on the issue is quite dubious- something like,
    “If it has not been possible to arrest and punish the murderer, let the thief/rapist escape, there is no point punishing them,” isn’t it?
    Ridicule of individual or group is equally harmful to the society; anti-national, or anti-regional or anti-secular comments are never supported and everyone around does bother about them too.
    secondly, pretending as a transgender (as you have referred for Riteish) or as homosexuals (as we have seen in films like Dostana and Kal Ho Na Ho)doesn’t really ridicule them, I think the affected result has been more of awareness about them and their acceptance in society’ or else you would not have developed this sensibility towards what you fancifully call ‘transgender’ today. (Where were you during their centuries of struggle and troddenness?) I do not support your statement that Indian films have always ridiculed transgenders (because thats not true), because that will mean Mahesh Dattani in writing plays on them, is actually ridiculing them (according to you). And AIB did the same too by calling Ranveer and Arjun ‘girls’ in one of their roasts…Hence an additional charge 🙂
    coming to Tanmay Bhatt. He has always been a creep. Comedy doesn’t mean disrespecting other’s work and efforts, but this guy always does so. On a grand event (possibly one of the AIB Knockout show) the way these guys were disrespecting the many renowned actors, it seemed as if whatever the best directors, writers and actors did were bad, and what these cheap comedians are doing is the best…
    Karan Johar’s work as a filmmaker has been ridiculed, Arjun Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, great singers everyone were badly ridiculed and I really didn’t find it funny.
    They were not protested against, so this Tanmay bhatt felt he can do anything, and ridicule anyone which is a bad act… So the reaction he is getting is just fine… enough of cheap and sexist jokes with slangs! no more of such cheap humour named as comedy.

  12. Zaf

    Very well written article. Thanks for hitting on the right nails. hypocrisy is on high, remembering Foucault’s ideas on power, Gramsci’s Hegemony and many more. we are fooling ourselves by ignoring the selective outrages. its we “the people” of India who make Rapists, goons, hate-politicians, religious fakes as our leaders. and for us hypocrisy is right i think. the same mentality made a violent Hate politician as great leader and people like Datta samant and Krishna desai as corrupts.

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