Live chat: Post AIB Roast - What the law says on stand-up comedy

Updated - December 04, 2021 11:36 pm IST

Published - February 05, 2015 06:45 pm IST

The Hindu: Hello and welcome to The Hindu's live chat. Today we're going to be discussing about all the legalities surrounding doing stand up comedy in India.

Comment From Guest Was Farida jalal taken n to consent befor e making comment on her

Sudhish Kamath: Hello! Both BG and me are not from AIB and wont be able to answer that question but this is a discussion on the legalities of a form that interacts with the audience. It is more live than scripted.

Karan Talwar: Why are people getting upset on behalf of Farida Jalal? Also, jokes are meant to be taken as jokes. If people take them seriously that's a personal issue

Comment From Raj Elanjeran: Heres the thing. AIB uploaded this on youtube. There are tonnes of videos on youtube that some people may find offensive. Do we take youtube down? No, we chose to not see those videos. As simple as that

Comment From Guest: if found guilty what are the punishments AIB can face from court

Comment From Akshay: Did AIB do anything wrong ? legally ? or is just a stupid attempt by Maharashtra Govt to put a stop on AIB ?

Sudhish Kamath: I think it's not just moral policing but surrogate moral policing. If you cannot attack them as moral police, attack as the khakhi police... with the lathi and the uniform for breaking a law that is free to interpret obscenity... speaking of which Bollywood Gandu is here. Who calls himself a Gandu. Who is this offensive to? Karan, why do you call yourself that? :)

Karan Talwar: What the Maharashtra Government is doing if proxy-moral policing by using our archaic law system to trap AIB. In our country even today it is a crime to purchase or consume alcohol without a license. How many people have licenses though? It's using, or rather misusing, laws to tell people what is Ok and what is not.

Comment From Sam: If we were to take into account the cultural difference between America (where roast originated) and India, should AIB have tweaked their direction of jokes a little bit? Weren't they trying to ape the western roast this way?

Sudhish Kamath: There's no Indian roast or a Western roast. Insults are insults. Saying a roast has dirty comments is like saying porn has sex in it.

Comment From Guest: yeah that i understood...people disagree all the time with one thing or the other...but there should have been some law overshoot...otherwise why maharashtra govt got into it...

Comment From Ravi: Which sections can be imposed on them ?

Sudhish Kamath: 66A among others

Comment From Saurabh Gogate: The FWICE is issuing an apology from AIB because apparently few of the industry members felt hurt. Is it even necessary for AIB to apologise to these people? Also a guy like Russell Peters whose shows are clearly 18 are going to take place in Mumbai on 11th and 12th February. Is the Government going to stop Russell Peters also now? N Russell Peters is well known for clearly making fun of everything related to Indians!!!!

Comment From Abhijit Dey: Even if there are laws for obscenity, it shouldn't be applicable here since it was organised under a closed environment and viewers had a choice of watching it. Vulgarity can be booked under the law only if it is done publicly, where people are forced to witness such an event, as far as I think.

Comment From Guest: Is there need to obtain NO certificate for content ofany stage play?

Karan Talwar: Ravi: the sections being looked at come under acts of vulgarity in public - but what is vulgar is different for one person to another. Problem is ambiguous laws that no one truly understands! Anyone can sue anyone else if they feel sentiments have been hurt. But who the hell decides what "sentiments" are?

Comment From Guest: making fun is not in question .valugarity is

Comment From Guest: Their already show contains its for 18 . it already says its filthy.Karan Johar already announced to go out of the show if you don't like. Do you still think should there be any kind of controversy

Sudhish Kamath: There should be no controversy but maybe it has served to start a conversation and raise questions on who is allowed to control what we say.

Comment From Guest: I didn't watch the entire video but what I would like to mention one thing for sure.

Comment From Shadab: Aren't RSS and VHP associations arrange platforms where hate speeches are given, why don't the same measures taken, why two standards of Hate speech and bad speech ???

Comment From G Vishwanath: How can I watch the video now, if I wish to, just to know what all the fuss is about?

Karan Talwar: Also, in India Kavi Sammelans often indulge in vulgar material. My problem with this is - stand up comedians have been doing vulgar material for years now. AIB is being singled out because they had the Bollywood star power with them. People are using this event as a stepping stone to get their 15 mins of fame. They don't realise that they have made AIB a household name now!

Comment From Vincedee: It may have been in poor taste but no one is forcing anyone to participate

Comment From Srini: The dictionary contains profane and vulgar words. So, let's ban it! Your take on this...

Comment From Guest: Why do AIB should owe an unconditional apology??...Legally Is there any law for which language and content we should use in stand up comedy???

Comment From Prateek: Its sad to see AIB remove the videos. I know the content was not the most sophisticated one, but then it was a comedy show which was of a specific type "Roast".We all love foreign stuff, shows, we praise them, their creativity, their broad & open mindset, but when all of that is done here.. we r too embarrassed to accept it.

Comment From Atul: you said - Today we're going to be discussing about all the legalities surrounding doing stand up comedy in India. What are the legal requirements to do a standup Comedy in India ?

Sudhish Kamath: Whoa!! The stream is unstoppable with comments. Can we take one at a time please?

Comment From Rajiv: Is there any law under which AIB can be deemed as culpable? And why can't people who are issuing threats to AIB booked under a similar law?

Comment From Tom Babu: There is nothing called 'Freedom to not get offended. It cannot co-exist with 'Right to freedom of Speech' which is the most basic thing on which a Democracy function.

Comment From Sudhamshu: There were a few dark-skin based jokes which bordered on being racist. Had there been a member who was from North-East and the recently outlawed word used to make a joke on him, would it be acceptable? (if the person being made fun of had no issue with it)

Karan Talwar: One thing I want to point out to everyone: stand up comedy is about voicing the truth in a funny way. ALl of us in the business adore guys like George Carlin who broke new ground around censorship in the US. India needs this now more than ever. We've become a society where we wash dirty laundry in private and pretend in public.

Sudhish Kamath: Guys, the question is not whether it is abusive or offensive or not. Of course, the idea is to be abusive and offend but the intention is to showcase the tolerance of the person who is at the receiving end.

Comment From Vivek Yadav: now are they in trouble because they uploaded the video on utube or because they did the live show...because there are infinite videos full of fith on youtube but this live show was first of its kind in india...but all controversies started after the where exactly they did a mistake??

Sudhish Kamath: If Karan calls himself Bollywood Gandu, is he offending himself or you by using the G word?

Karan Talwar: AIB are being investigated only from a live show perspective because the government cannot control the internet. The only way they can slap fines is finding some loophole - like the script submitted did not match the actual script! People improvise on stage all the time. How the hell are we supposed to account for that?

Sudhish Kamath: If AIB calls itself All India Bakchod, why is it offensive to anyone what they call themselves?

Sudhish Kamath: Karan, how loose is your script when you go to perform?

Comment From Sudhamshu: There were a few dark-skin based jokes which bordered on being racist. Had there been a member who was from North-East and the recently outlawed word used to make a joke on him, would it be acceptable? (if the person being made fun of had no issue with it)

Sudhish Kamath: Omar, a roast is a free for all that preaches tolerance. It's like a game that says: Hit as hard as you want and see how I take it like a boss. So if you can't take it, it reflects on you.

Karan Talwar: It is very loose! If I find a "murga" in the front row I will fashion my set around him or her! Where that might take me is totally unknown. Audiences love this

Karan Talwar: Also, we perform Improvised comedy all over India. There are no scripts for this show. How am I supposed to get a license for this - given the government will now demand for scripts?

Sudhish Kamath: In some ways, you are having a funny conversation with the crowd then and the State wants to control the reactions and counter reactions?

Karan Talwar: Omar: Being racist is how we are. It's better to laugh about it than hide it under the rug. Comedy is a mirror to society just like film or art. We have to talk about these things that are taboo!

Karan Talwar: Sudhish: Exactly! The government has no business in my show unless I take my pants off!

Sudhish Kamath: Why is profanity important is a question a lot of people ask. Why not keep it clean? As Bollywood Gandu, how do you react to this?

Karan Talwar: Sudhish: That is a personal choice. There are many fine clean comedians like Anuvab Pal and Rajneesh Kapoor. Go watch them instead and ignore guys like AIB!

Sudhish Kamath: Yes, sure. There was just too much traffic, so waiting to filter. :)

Comment From jerry: Do comedians self impose any limits on their humour?

Karan Talwar: Jerry: Comedians censor themselves all the time. AIB as a group do not. It's a personal choice for comedians.

Karan Talwar: Comparing a roast to porn is the most ridiculous analogy anyone could think of. It shows frustration and lack of understanding.

Omar Rashid: There are suggestions from some readers that the AIB roast should be restricted to the internet only. what say about that?

Karan Talwar: Devendra: It's hard to tell. But from the looks of it - maybe some fines. Either way it will be a PR nightmare for the government so I think this will all vanish pretty soon. Till the next roast!

Comment From Abhishek D: I can tell you this much - if BJP Government as much as even scratches AIB, I'll never ever vote for BJP and ensure none of my friends and family ever support them

Sudhish Kamath: I hope more people think like you instead of deciding that the right is always right.

Comment From ZK: Does the roast genre itself demand profanity? Or do you think an insult could be couched in politer terms?

Sudhish Kamath: Excellent question. But if the idea is to insult, why hold back?

Comment From Gaurav Chetal: So what exactly should have prompted them to remove the video??..Why dint they fight the case??

Sudhish Kamath: Because in this case, there were third parties involved. People who were part of it for charity were being attacked. That's what AIB's statement said.

Comment From Gaurav Chetal: Will it be legally correct if a statuatory warning is given plus its "pay-per-watch"..I know its not porn but still..:P

Karan Talwar: I don't think it matter to our government who cater to sentiments of vote banks instead of us "elites"

Comment From Devendra: what are the liabilities of organisers AIB in this case?

Sudhish Kamath: Liabilities? They aren't liable till found guilty. Unfortunately, this form is new territory and would be resolved only through discussion - either through public opinion through social media, mainstream media and God forbid, courtroom debates.

Comment From Guest: Many complain that the AIB Roast is a poor imitation of the West. Is it not new enough for the Indian audience?

Karan Talwar: It is new for India. For the first time popular Bollywood stars were ripped apart. It's called Schadenfreude: we love seeing people fall flat on their face

Comment From Krishnan: what I don't get is in the past AIB made a video about saying goodbye to a political party. That time it didn't seem vulgar or ugly. I can never understand this "I will laugh about others but you can't make fun of me habit." If politicos have the right to say stuff that is vulgar to my ears, then we have the right to say stuff that is vulgar to their ears too.

Karan Talwar: The problem is people think they have the right to draw lines of whats ok and whats not for others. They don't. You don;t get to file FIRs for being offended.

Comment From Guest: I am all for Freedom of speech... dont you think in this whole controversy we are looking at who is right and who is wrong.. but what we could focus on "what is right and what is wrong." an make an attempt to come on a common ground. i feel if we try to focus on that we would get an outcome, otherwise its all just a way to get publicity...

Sudhish Kamath: Why take comedians or the subject of the roast seriously when they themselves have no issues, they are able to laugh at it and had almost forgotten about it...

Comment From Saurabh Gogate: Can the Government stop Russell Peters from doing such a show? AIB is nothing compared to Russell Peters. He is also doing stand up comedy and his videos also get uploaded on YouTube just like how AIB did. He has shows scheduled in the same location in Mumbai on 11th and 12th Feb. While AIB only bashed the film industry, Russell Peters is knowing for bashing our whole culture. So will the Government also launch an inquiry into his show?

Sudhish Kamath: They could stop his show and give him more material for his shows outside India. :)

Karan Talwar: If this government wants to start moral policing it can start with item numbers. Russell Peters has a far lower reach than that.

Comment From vivs: karan does that mean you absolve yourself of all responsibilities?vulgar has to be pushed into the audience's consciousness otherwise there's no freedom of expression, right?

Karan Talwar: NOt at all! As a performer it is my responsibility I cater my material to the audience. Many times I do clean stuff because it works better. Doing vulgar for the sake of cheap laughs may not be the best method but its certainly not illegal!

Comment From Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury: Why We are not categorising the television slots for adult contents as there is a system for movies, which may give viewer a better option, rather stopping it.

Sudhish Kamath: Apparently 11 pm is considered to be primetime now (which means even kids are awake then), so adult slot if at all will need to go late night.

Karan Talwar: USA already has done this. TV in INdia, as far as I'm concerned, is dead. There is almost 0 expression of thought and creativity because of years and years of red tape and dumbing down

Comment From G Vishwanath: Do you think this AIB issue can be compared to the Charlie Hebdo Cartoon issue?

Sudhish Kamath: The Charlie Hebdo episode was also extremely bloody and violent and ended up with the people taking offence resorting to violence and killing the cartoonists. In this case, most people had consented to being made fun of. There were a few casualties as well but all done in good humour in the spirit of a roast.

Karan Talwar: NOt until someone shows up with a gun. OK that was a joke. Don't do a morcha outside my house please.

Comment From Guest: Vishwanath: How can that be possible...charlie Hebdo cartoons were targetted (that too continuously

Comment From Pavan: A simple viewer discretion rating before everysho would simply solve the problems: both from the CFBC and these idiotic protests. We have got *far* better problems to worry about and as usual politicians are making politics to cater to their vote banks. I am ashamed

Sudhish Kamath: Yes! All of which was done in this case. There were disclaimers and the show started with a definition of what it was going to be.

Karan Talwar: Having ratings wont matter when the end game is to control what people see.

Comment From Mrinal Kapoor: I want AIB to roast our government and i can really help them out with a script of my own !!

Karan Talwar: That happens everyday on twitter whle they keep fighting with each other like little children

Comment From Guest: Do you think Censor Board should be scrapped because they are also doin gmoral policing?

Sudhish Kamath: Not just the Censor board, there seems to be additional censorship across platforms. Mob censorship by fringe groups all exploiting City Police Act by threatening a dangerous law and order situation

Comment From Atul: you said - Today we're going to be discussing about all the legalities surrounding doing stand up comedy in India. What are the legal requirements to do a standup Comedy in India - say in a bar ?

Sudhish Kamath: Technically, you should be buying a drink. For yourself and if you are feeling kind, for Karan.

Karan Talwar: As far as I know you need a performance license in some metro areas. Really depends where the bar is!

Sudhish Kamath: Unfortunately though, a performance licence is sometimes needed depending on the place you are performing and how public the event is. The police sometimes ignores crowds of less than 100 because they have given the bar an event licence. Depending on the nature of the performance, venue and size of the audience, different procedures need to be followed

Comment From Guest: What can AIB now do to defend itself

Karan Talwar: Make another kickass video that will go viral.

Comment From Damien: AIB and Hebdo are same thing but different contexts. Again, it is about telling artists to pursue their passion with a touch of conscience.

Karan Talwar: ^what he said

Comment From Guest: That video created so much uproar just because there were some celebrities involved. Frankly I could'nt watch the video from more then 2-3 mins but I am not offended by it. You don't like it, don't watch it. as simple as that

Karan Talwar: Please run for office. We need some common sense.

Comment From Nilesh: Does the IT act cover any of the "misdeeds" committed on the AIB Roast? Like the language used in jokes targetted towards Deepika Padukone and Aditi Mittal, which can I think be categorized as disrespect towards women?

Sudhish Kamath: Deepika and Aditi were aware of what's coming. The script had their consent, at least in spirit.

Karan Talwar: Yes you can criticize them for that - but you cannot file FIRs!

Comment From Aditya: It was clearly an Adult rated video on youtube. One had to sign in and confirm age. Why the fuss then?

Sudhish Kamath: Because the State believes even Adults need to be monitored. Are you planning to perform sex today? Do it quickly, before you need further licence tomorrow.

Comment From Ashish: i think question is.... "if kids n generation follows public icons...what they learn!" dont say its individual know what youtube is.... karan,arjun are humourous but spreading it was bit awkward!

Sudhish Kamath: I feel funny quoting Akshay Kumar here but even he has to sense to point out that Hindi film heroes have been taking care of parents on screen for years but he doesn't see too many people do that.

Karan Talwar: It's awkward because what happens in private was now taking place in public.

Comment From WithHeld: freedom of speech is being abused by entertainers. We all know it's about money when you do a show it will be about TRPs. Hence self-righteous positioning is not adorable.

Sudhish Kamath: In this case, it was for charity. So would you still go with that argument?

Karan Talwar: Everyone wants to be relevant! Yes the event was for charity but it was also to do something extreme on a massive scale. Again, its a personal choice whether you want to watch it or not.

Comment From Guest: My question regarding 'Freedom of speech' is if programmes like 'Roast' is allowed, then would the same context be used to allow the hate speeches spewed by certain politicians? Does it come under the same umbrella?

Sudhish Kamath: Roast is about the consent and tolerance of the person who has agreed to be the subject. The politicians agree to be Roasted, we would have truly developed as a democratic nation.

Sudhish Kamath: Also, Arnab does it sometimes without calling it a roast. He's a journalist performing stand up sitting down.

Omar Rashid: Many readers have compared the AIB roast's right to freedom of speech to the political speeches given by our leaders. Can we compare the two Karan?

Karan Talwar: That's a tricky comparison. POliticians say what they say for mileage. AIB say what they say for laughs. Either way, I'm glad we're having this discussion!!

Comment From Aditya: I appreciate The Hindu 's effort to bring this for discussion. And Some of the comments here are completely sweeping statements like the one asking for ban and another linking dipika with respect of entire women. It is Deepiki's right to allow or not allow such remarks on her.

Comment From Guest: We all use slangs in our day to day life. It is very common in colleges Offices Public transport... infact it is omnipresent. We say we should develop as a society but first we need to develop a sense of humor and try to take things in a light hearted way... there are other issues, major issues to cry for.

Sudhish Kamath: Exactly, who doesn't swear in traffic?

Karan Talwar: Cant agree more!

Comment From prateek: well all these public celebrities involved in AIB admired and followed by thousand of children in india. i think they are not supposed to do such type of activity which is openly acesses to all

Sudhish Kamath: What you want your children to watch is something you have every right to monitor. Don't ask the State to do it, please!

Comment From shashank: Guys, did you ever expect that things may turn out like they did? Did you ever think this was a slight risk?

Karan Talwar: I saw the show live. And it was like nothing I have ever seen. I myself have done 2 roasts but this was bigger because of Bollywood

Sudhish Kamath: I'm sure they anticipated trouble which is why they exercised restraint. And admitted to it too, they edited a lot of it out, some with discretion, some for quality control and some to ensure it doesn't get controversial and shocking for the sake of being shocking. I thought it was a very good call to edit out some of the kisses that happened.

Comment From Suhaas: Hate speech si without consent, Roast was with consent.

Sudhish Kamath: Exactly!! Well put.

Comment From vivs: AIB is positioning itself as the victim.when as entertainers or script writers someone claims immunity to responsiility its a little ghoulish as an idea.its power to infuence without the accountability.

Karan Talwar: Like they said - they were trying to push the envelope but the envelope pushed back. They are well aware of the repercussions.

Comment From Nilesh: I think this issue over AIB Roast points towards the fact that internet,a niche medium in India is evolving into a 'mass medium'. With increased internet penetration, internet will need laws to govern the content and a separate body like CBFC and Press Council of India.

Karan Talwar: As someone who makes a living on the internet and stage - the less the govt involves itself the better. If the act is lewd the audience will reject it.

Sudhish Kamath: Why do we need the State to control? Especially the internet whose very idea is give you freedom - the internet has given the individual power than ever before, to express, to make himself heard and to protest. A truly developed society will be able to regulate itself.

Comment From Pulkit: The American kids are turning out to be perfectly fine I believe. They didn't ban the Roast.

Comment From ZK: Couldn't a certain Mr Pandit be slapped with libel as well, for his tweet -- which, by the way, was a lot more public than the AIB video that was clearly 18 and required a sign in?

Karan Talwar: That comment was moronic and show you lack of understanding.

Omar Rashid: What do you say about the Censor Board member Ashoke Pandit's response to the show, Karan? Also readers want to know if the AIB will do more shows in the future

Karan Talwar: Of course AIB will do more shows! We have lots of shows planned over next two months in 7 cities over INdia. Pandit was juvenile - shows a lack of understanding.

Sudhish Kamath: Apparently we are running out of time. So I want to ask Karan a couple of questions.

Comment From Sibi: I see people worrying about underage viewers. I personally feel children exposed to expletive ridden truths and progressive thoughts are way better than those exposed to 'clean' retrograde thoughts! .. If a child can understand and appreciate sarcasm, it isn't that bad. Hearing expletives and using them are 2 different things

Sudhish Kamath: Karan, what would you do if you were in AIB's shoes? You know the stakes involved. A bunch of celebrities being hounded for helping out with charity projects.

Karan Talwar: I would lay low like they are. Eventually people will forget about it (just have to wait till our next scandal) and then continue doing what we're meant to do - make people laugh and push the envelope

Karan Talwar: The stakes are high yes _ i would hate Bollywood to back off from the next roast. That would be the most disheartening thing of it all.

Sudhish Kamath: How has Bollywood responded to you roasting them without consent over the years? Kamal R Khan does it too at a very different sometimes incredibly low level... would you defend his right?

Karan Talwar: KRK is a cockroach in my opinion. But that does not mean I will file a case or engage the government to pursue him. He has the right to say what he wants - even though he shouldn't. This is what I;m going to say. When I started BollywoodGandu it wasn't fashionable to make fun of celebs. Today everyone does it. That's a step in the right direction. People like Sonam Kapoor and Karan Johar follow me even though I make jokes about them. Shows you that there are people who can take a joke. These are all important things for a society like ours that, at times, can be so primitive. Can we all just lighten up and laugh about how messed up we are? To quote the joker: Why so serious?

Sudhish Kamath: Hahaha! Thanks so much for joining in Karan. Was fun having you chat with our readers.

Karan Talwar: My pleasure!

Sudhish Kamath: And sorry about the questions we couldn't answer. About a 120 of them I'm told. So the moderators picked the best one that caught their attention at the speed the questions were coming in. Thanks everyone.

The Hindu: Yes, a flood of comments! Apologies for all the comments that have gone unanswered. We will try to send it to our panelists and get them answered if possible. :)

Omar Rashid: Guys please tweet your questions to Sudhish and Karan. We are logging off soon!

Sudhish Kamath: Hahaha! Karan is at @BollywoodGandu

The Hindu: Thank you Karan and Sudhish for participating in this chat!

Sudhish Kamath: And I am @SudhishKamath

Omar Rashid: You can tweet @Mumbai_Connect if you have further queries! Our panelists will gleefully answer them.

The Hindu: And thank you readers for all the comments and feedback. Watch out for this space and expect many more discussions like this one. :)

The Hindu: Thank you and have a great evening!

Sudhish Kamath: You are also free to roast @BollywoodGandu

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.