Vigrah

Satire in India

Dec
23

I enjoy writing some occasional satire myself, and I am a huge fan of TheOnion. So I find it disappointing that satire in India is not very creative, and often rather disappointing.

Part of the reason is that we seem to have this fixed notion that satire has to be funny. It doesn’t, not by a long shot. It is possible for satire to be funny, but it is certainly not necessary.

One of the greatest works of satire ever written–A Modest Proposal by John Swift–has no humor in it. It is brutal, hard hitting, dark, serious–as well as unforgettable and inspiring.

TheOnion is similar. It uses humor often, but some of its best work is brutal satire with no humor. Consider this piece for example.

Now, I am overall happy that satire is getting more popular, and I like the fact that there are so many fake news sites cropping up (though, much to my regret, a couple of them have shut down in just the past couple of months).

But I wish our fake news writers and satirists would make a little more effort. Let’s look at some recent satirical posts, published on Faking News and The Unreal Times. (Note: The Unreal Times has recently stopped publishing new material.)

  1. Delhiite working in Bangalore hides in office toilet for 6 hrs after colleague mentions Kejriwal
  2. New-age “singer” sits below Kishore Kumar’s portrait, gets mysteriously slapped
  3. Only standing during National Anthem not enough, film won’t start till everyone sings it hitting the right notes: Supreme Court
  4. Chappal lost by Mumbai man in last year’s rain, returns floating to him after today’s rain 
  5. Donald Trump will appoint a panel of spelling bee winners to check his tweets before posting
  6. Arrested politician visits a private hospital for fake chest pain. Dies of heart attack after seeing the bill!
  7. Demonetization impact: Private banks join hands with OYO to rent their shuttered ATMs
  8. Man deletes wedding pic from Facebook after friends comment more on the stylish car parked in the background in the pic

Notice a pattern here? All of these are very narrow in focus in terms of satire, and yet use very long titles. The result? The entire content of the satirical piece is contained in the title itself, and there is no reason to read the actual piece. Basically, these are jokes rather than satirical pieces.

I wish a little more thought and effort would go into our satire. I see only the AIB guys are doing a good job on that front.

Thought Police and the National Anthem in Movie Theaters

Dec
02

The Supreme Court of India passed a baffling order yesterday that makes it mandatory for all movie theaters in the country to play the Indian national anthem before each screening. Just in case you missed the news, let me quote from the report by The Indian Express to get you up to speed:

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Bob Dylan’s Nobel

Nov
02

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Back in the day when I was a student, some friends of mine were doing a course in the literature department where they studied the theory and practice of making anthologies, of selecting and creating a canon. The idea was to discuss theory related to anthologizing, review a number of existing anthologies, and, by the end of the course, collaboratively produce an anthology of poetry and short stories or prose passages. (more…)

Why buffoons

Oct
26

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Maybe my last post came across as very strongly worded, so I wanted to throw in a quick explanation here. Let’s look at Google’s pronouncements regarding ‘open’ and Android. For reference, look at the report by Techcrunch in May 2010, after Google announced Froyo, a new version of Android at its I/O event. (more…)

Google’s Buffoons

Oct
25

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I am beginning to suspect that Google is rather good playing its audience. Google has a history of outright lies, and yet people buy into its hype, its lies, its ‘ideology’ without batting an eyelid. The whole ‘Google stands for open’ is an outrageous, ridiculous lie. And yet, people lap it up year after year. Consider, for example, Project Ara.
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