Comedians Aayushi Jagad and Sumedh Natu, who’ve both worked with All India Bakchod in various capacities over the years, put out a video last night that’s been making waves on social media. It calls out AIB on its performative public feminism and explains exactly how that public feminism fails to translate into the business behind and substance of their content as well.
They make some really interesting observations about AIB’s sketches, including the fact that only two pass the Bechdel test. It also features an unexpected clip from a clearly fed-up Kaneez Surka, a regular fixture in many AIB videos, talking about how her roles at AIB are always restricted to stereotypically feminine ones. The video discusses the difference between AIB’s “regular” videos and their overtly women-centric ones, and the ways in which female characters in regular AIB sketches can be replaced with table lamps without affecting the message of the sketch at all.
It’s extremely satisfying to have all this articulated so clearly, particularly from people who’ve worked with AIB. They even begin and end their criticism with appreciation for the outfit and what it does, and correctly mention that AIB’s sketches are pioneering in many ways, and raise the baseline for other aspiring comics.
Jagaad and Natu also correctly point out that this isn’t an AIB problem or a stand-up comedy problem alone, but one that plagues the entire Indian internet. Perhaps AIB and the stand-up comedy major league in general comes under fire for gender bias and sexism because of their repeated public statements on it, and the natural assumption that their work would be saturated with meaningful feminism too.
PS: Back in 2016, TLF published a piece in response to All India Bakchod reimagining Buzzfeed India‘s gender-neutral video ‘Your Childhood in 100 Seconds’ into the heavily, heavily gendered ‘Your Adulthood in 100 Seconds’. It makes a tiny appearance in this video 🙂