The Hindu Lit Fest 2024 | Podcasters Kiran Manral and Shunali Shroff: too woke to be funny

In a panel discussion at the ongoing The Hindu Lit Fest 2024, Shunali Shroff and Kiran Manral talk about their podcast Not Your Aunty and how, as a society, we have taken things too far

Updated - February 14, 2024 03:56 pm IST

Published - January 26, 2024 10:31 pm IST

Kiran Manral and Shunali Shroff in conversation with Rosella Stephen at The Hindu Lit Fest on January 26

Kiran Manral and Shunali Shroff in conversation with Rosella Stephen at The Hindu Lit Fest on January 26 | Photo Credit: M. Srinath

“When my children’s friends call me aunty, it’s fine. But when someone 45-plus calls me that, it’s not fine. I’m NOT THEIR AUNTY,” says Shunali Shroff at the start of the ‘Too Woke To Be Funny panel discussion at The Hindu Lit Fest 2024. Shroff and Kiran Manral were in conversation with Rosella Stephen, editor of The Hindu Magazine and Literary Review, about their podcast Not Your Aunty. Its episodes cover a range of topics from social media influencer Orry and actor Zeenat Aman’s comeback, to body positivity debates. But no matter the topic, they take pride in not mincing their words.

For instance, Stephen asked the duo what “woke culture” means to them, Shroff stated that it is “political correctness on steroids”, something she thinks will lead us to become a society that stops having conversations. “We’ll stop talking about the important topics,” she says. “We’ll just talk about the weather, and even here, we’ll argue about what gender to ascribe it.” Manral pointed out how “hyper-woke culture” is also a bullying culture because “it comes with the threat that if you don’t subscribe to my views, I’ll cancel you”.

The Hindu Lit Fest 2024 LIVE updates

Shroff and Manral’s views ranged from the progressive to the slightly controversial. For instance, their episode on menopause, they shared, was meant to break the omerta around the topic and challenge the popular perception that ageing is a sin. On the other hand, an episode on body positivity had them using the word “fat” numerous times “to convey that it’s not okay to glorify being unhealthy and overweight”, says Manral.

Shroff stated that she lost 300 Instagram followers the day she asked why Oprah Winfrey was on Ozempic — a weight loss drug — if she was so good at “manifesting”. The podcasters also called out new trends such as children identifying as cats and dogs, and a girl in the U.K. who identifies as different pieces of furniture, all to illustrate that perhaps as a society, we’ve taken things a little too far. “Being sensitive has become a profession nowadays,” says Shroff.

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