Tanmay Bhat’s Lata Mangeshkar and Tendulkar video is a symptom, not the sickness
I persistently believe that all sorts of people exist in this world and they have existed since the time immemorial. The difference now is, due to easy access to the Internet, anybody can become “known”. You can be famous and you can be infamous, hardly matters. All you have to do is, be outrageous and there you have it, no matter how grotesque, but a celebrity status.
Since there is no entry barrier, anybody can do that. All you have to do is, say things that piss off people, choose soft targets (be careful not to target communities that WILL blow you up) and you will always have an audience that will find you “funny”, amusing, and even relevant. The point is not what you’re doing, the point is you are doing.
Even before the Internet all sorts of smut existed but it was difficult for that smut to enter the mainstream because, no matter how artificial, checks and balances existed. I’m not saying that the maintainers of those checks and balances were the guardians of higher moral grounds, they were just there. So it was very difficult to “be yourself” at a larger scale.
Regarding this particular person, he definitely is deranged, the poor guy also needs some help undoubtedly, but that is not the point. I don’t like the reaction. Abuse him (he deserves all the abuse he gets) but don’t threaten him physically. He is offending people, so offend him. Come up with the most crass jokes about him if you can. But I don’t think he should be physically threatened. People are threatening to break his legs. An arrest might also be impending.
This needlessly takes the attention away from his perverted attitude. This guy somehow has deluded himself into believing that the more gross he sounds, the funnier he is.
So the debate in the society should not be about whether he should be beaten up or not, or whether he should be arrested or not, the debate should be, where are we are taking performing arts? What is happening to our sense of humour? It is alarming that gutter art is becoming mainstream art. And this is not just confined to stand-up comedy.
Just a few days ago I was remarking about how vulgar the Bollywood dance movements are these days. There was a college function video recently on one of the websites. In the name of dancing to the tunes of a contemporary Bollywood song, girls were actually, suggestively rubbing their breasts, thrusting their lower abdominal parts forward and rubbing their vaginas and indulging in all sorts of movements that, instead of belonging to a college auditorium stage, belonged to a porn movie. Of course the audience was going crazy. No, I’m not exaggerating.
The trouble with these dances is that they have become so mainstream that we don’t even realise that they are so vulgar. In dance parties and marriages you will find aunties, uncles, and young boys and girls dancing to the tunes of songs carrying sexual and sexist words. Some “party” songs even suggest that if you force yourself on a girl she pretends that she doesn’t like it but actually she likes it. That’s openness for you. That’s freedom of expression.
So when Tanmay Bhat makes Lata Mangeshkar and Tendulkar abuse each other, show each other fingers and tell each other to fuck off and die, and when people find it amusing, you know that the problem is not just with the video. The problem is with the rot that exists in the society.
Again, as I said in the beginning, it’s not that this rot has just manifested because it is something “modern”. It has always existed. The difference is, due to the Internet, this rot has easy access to broadcasting.
I also believe it is not going to go away. Stricter laws are not a solution because then you never know when such laws turn Draconian. Street justice is not an option and in fact it is another law and order problem. These acts deserve contempt and all possible contempt must be directed at them. Joke about Tanmay Bhat in such a manner that he has to run and hide in a cave. Do a Snapdeal-Amir Khan to him if you want. Give him a taste of his own medicine. But when we threaten him physically, when our state tries to be the big daddy in such cases, it’s people like Tanmay who benefit the most. Do you really want that?