By Tanuj Gupta
Edited by Namrata Caleb, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist
In India it’s extremely rare to see public figures willing to take a dig at themselves. In fact the words spoof and parody seem as alien to our paradigm as the words saas-bahu serials would be to someone in the United States. However, recently, public figures themselves have understood that one of the best ways to manage Public Relations and marketing is to take a dig at themselves and this comes as a refreshing change from the strict control over anything that is published, as was the case earlier.
Leading the pack and being the reason behind this sudden upsurge are channels such as AIB and TVF on YouTube, which have become huge themselves – garnering a large portion of youth attention. Among figures sporting enough to see themselves made fun of is Alia Bhatt, who most believe has scored a PR masterstroke by letting her IQ be the butt (excuse the pun) of all jokes on a social networking forum. And the internet is loving these stars for it. Others include Rohit Shetty, Anurag Kashyap and many others from the film as well as TV industry who have been willing to be made fun of. What is even more remarkable is the courage and determination which some channels have shown. For instance when Yash Raj banned a comic sketch on Dhoom 3, AIB, instead of protesting the way it is usually done, took the road of making a video out of their refusal itself which went on to become watched by millions, making the production house itself realise that poking fun at itself maybe wasn’t the worst way to do things.
It is common feature in the West to see stars themselves participate in a lot of these parodies or comic sketches on shows like Saturday Night Live. This concept wasn’t at all popular in India where most celebrities adopted a “holier than thou” attitude when it came to flak and criticism. In fact in the US, even the President isn’t spared and is a regular on chat shows where the public gets to see the more human and humorous side of their leaders. While it may be a long shot to expect politicians in India poking fun at themselves (imagine Sushma Swaraj making a joke about herself on national TV), it is still a start that people have begun accepting the fact that just because they’re in the public eye, does not make them perfect. In fact it is these humanising elements that make these celebrities develop a much greater connection with the masses and the fact that they can agree to make fun of themselves while they’re at it helps all that much more in proving their point.
All said and done however, this is still an idea which is fairly far off from being a mainstream one. Most public figures would still shy away from doing anything of the sort. Having said that, someone who can take a joke is perhaps the most sporting as well as endearing of them all. Well, maybe some of the bigger names will see the viewership as a sign of things to come and step off their high pedestal to come and mingle with the commoners.
Tanuj is a final year student of B.Com (Hons.) at St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata. Simultaneously pursuing CA and doing his Articleship, the remaining time that he gets he spends debating, reading, writing and procrastinating. Not usually in that order. With a keen interest and opinion on practically everything under the sun, he is always more than enthusiastic to share it with others and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org for any sort of lively discussion.