"Bollywood is a Gift that Keeps Giving": All India Bakchod
The acclaimed Mumbai-based stand up group All India Bakchod will 'celebrate' the worst of Bollywood in a special show in Dubai
Anyone even remotely tuned into the Indian stand-up comedy scene, the name All India Bakchod immediately elicits a chuckle. For the uninitiated, they are arguably, the coolest and funniest stand-up comics from Mumbai whose hilarious podcasts and videos have made them an online and offline sensation. All India Bakchod comprising the super talented Gursimran Khamba, Tanmay Bhat, Rohan Joshi, Ashish Shakya, Karunesh Talwar and Mehar Chumble spare no one. Politicians, Bollywood bigwigs, society hotshots…everyone is a fair game for their antics! The good news for comedy lovers is that the AIB are coming to Dubai this week with their most iconic show – The Royal Turds (yes, that’s the name!). An awards show that celebrates the worst of Bollywood, the act, through a mixture of stand-up, sketch and musical comedy, exposes the Hindi film industry like no other. If their previous shows and videos are anything to go by, be rest assured that this will be one big laughathon!
Welcome to Dubai. From your previous visits here, how would you best describe the city?
Some of us have visited Dubai before while others haven’t. The lot of us who have been here before like Rohan and Tanmay are waiting to see the expressions on people’s faces when they encounter gigantic buildings and Lamborghinis casually driving past. The city has a great vibe and is such a cultural melting pot that it’s always exciting to visit.
We hear you will be celebrating the worst of Bollywood. Who are your biggest inspirations from the industry this year?
Bollywood is a gift that keeps giving when it comes to bad things, be it acting, lyrics, dialogue or even entire movie plots. Salman Khan is always very reliable, so is Yash Raj Studios. Yo Yo Honey Singh also seems to have a personal vendetta against quality. I think as long as there is Bollywood, we will stay inspired and most importantly, have a career.
What is your opinion of Bollywood award ceremonies?
It’s an open secret that none of those award ceremonies are conducted ethically. It’s all about which star decides to show up at the event, not hurting fragile egos in an effort to maintain relationships. Thankfully nowadays at least they’re starting to recognise smaller independent filmmakers and movies that were considered “art” films. Hopefully it will change for the better.
Among leading Bollywood personalities, who, in your opinion, has a great sense of humour?
A lot of them! Imran Khan is someone we’ve worked with and he’s a total sport. Alia Bhatt was also willing to spoof her own song from Student of the Year. Even Karan Johar, from what you see from his interviews, seems very sorted and willing to take a joke. Thankfully there is a growing number of people who don’t take themselves that seriously anymore.
In these hyper-sensitive times, how do you deal with criticism from people who don’t agree with your world-view?
I don’t think there’s a lot you can do. People are entitled to their opinion like we are to ours. As long as things don’t get extremely abusive or threatening it’s fine but people have a tendency to overreact. The only thing we do is keep an open mind and hear the other side out but then decide on what we feel is right.
We love your videos on politics and politicians. Why do you think politicians have such a low tolerance for humour?
That’s because they’ve spent their whole careers feeling entitled. Instead of working for people Indian politicians feel they’re above common folk and that it automatically entitles them to more respect, perks and access.
The comedy scene in India appears to be booming. How would you compare it to the West?
It depends on what you’re comparing. India has a rich cultural history of humor. Specifically when it comes to stand up, it’s traditionally an American art form but we’ve had actors, performers, mimicry artists and stage performers from the 60s. It’s just that post globalisation, with more people having access to the internet, watching other Indians like Russell Peters making it big, English stand-up comedy has also gotten a boost. We have such a large population of urban English speakers that it was bound to happen. Just that unlike the west where the industry is 60 years old ours is only six years old. It will only become bigger.
Is there a difference in the reaction of audiences in metros vis-à-vis small towns to comedy?
The only thing that is different is their cultural context and capital. So some references that work in metros don’t work in smaller towns. Or some jokes that are considered usual in metros are too scandalous for smaller towns. In general however, English speaking Indian audiences are mostly similar.
Your It’s Your Fault video mocking the rape culture was widely appreciated. Any plans to make similar videos on issues you feel strongly about?
Most videos we make are on things we feel strongly about. The latest one we made was on the great Indian media circus which was a take on how our media blows everything out of proportion no matter how small the issue is. We made one after Sachin retired on how it would be like for Sachin fans in the future, which was a take on the BCCI controlling all of cricket for its own personal profit motive. Videos in general are satirical takes on issues that make us angry.
The Royal Turds
When: May 2, 2014
Where: The Oberoi Ballroom