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.

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