It’s been long that body shaming jokes have been normalised when they are unabashedly cracked in comedy shows or stand-up acts. But, they continue to remain a debatable topic and many have objected to them stating that they, sometimes, get extremely below the belt and outright insulting and offensive.
Recently, actor-comedian Sumona Chakravarti shared how demeaning jokes about her lips by fellow comedians left her hurt. In the past, celebs including Archana Puran Singh, Kiku Sharda, Neha Kakkar among many others have been at the receiving end of such body shaming digs.
Addressing the larger issue and severity of the problem, we talk to some comedians and discuss if, and where a line needs to be drawn when it comes to making jokes about someone’s physical appearance.
Comedian-host Bharti Singh feels that it’s understandable that one might get offended with a certain joke. However, if that happens, one should raise a voice right then and there. “They need to make it loud and clear in the first time itself. It does not make sense to keep taking the joke and days later, get and up and express how it was disrespectful towards you. I am sure no body would dare to repeat it if your boundaries are conveyed well,” asserts Singh, who happily takes such jokes on herself.
The reason she doesn’t mind being laughed at for her weight is because she is “awareness and secure” in her space. She explains, “If someone calls me names like moti, haathi etc, I do not take it to my heart. Khaaye hain maine paraathe, aur badhaaya hai maine apna weight. That’s my choice. So why would I defend and say ye galat hai. Moreover, I have learned to take the in my stride. Somebody’s jokes cannot decides my respect or value or how I feel about myself or how the world perceives me. I am confident enough.”
Stand up comedian Anubhav Singh Bassi, on the other hand, feels that a line should be drawn when cracking such jokes. “You can’t outrightly mock anyone or pass distasteful comments. Some people might like to crack such jokes, but as a comedian, I need to be sure what I want to say on stage,” he continues, “If I have a doubt that a particular thing might hurt someone, I don’t take the risk of offending people. Why to do something jisse chaar log aakar mujhe kuch bolein ya hurt ho. Comedy is also an art to convey important points in the right way.”
Bassi further explains how jokes on body image have been done to death and as creative people, it’s necessary to rise above it. “These jokes have already been cracked end number of times. Priyadarshan ki movies me ye sab already aa chuka hai. If I want to do something better, I need to come up with newer ideas,” he notes.
While several celebs have come forward to talk about their unpleasant experiences where they were body shamed in the garb of comedy, actor and comedian Gaurav Gera feels the culture has diminished over a period of time.
“There was a time when it was too much and I always found it very toxic. But thankfully, we have internet and the whole world has become one to discuss and share their constructive opinions. And these things need to be acknowledged. One way communication of the entertainment has to stop. What the person on the other side feels should to be observed and jokes have to be developed keeping that it mind,” he states, hoping that with so much talent in our country, “I’m sure we can come up with fresh ideas and innovative humour”.
On hitting under the belt and making personal comments in the name of comedy, comedian Sunil Grover says, “I just want people to laugh and for that, I do not support making personal comments that may hurt others. If I can make people laugh without the personal remarks, then why to unnecessarily poke anyone or hurt their sentiments or trigger their insecurities.”