Alarmed By A TV Show : Patriarchy Nights With Kapil?

Posted: July 19, 2014

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Popular TV shows often influence attitudes and trends. Here is an article about Comedy Nights With Kapil, and why we must be alarmed.

Comedy Nights With Kapil is winning accolades. The show is funny, with its startling comparisons and gender stereotypes – the pushing forty Bua declaring herself to be ‘hot and sexy twaanty two years old’ and the tully Daadi.  Telly viewers are going gaga over Kapil’s show.

I seem to be an exception. Am I the only one losing my sense of humour? I don’t laugh at his jokes, especially those about his wife Manju’s family; the area I am going to focus on. I get irritated and annoyed, I don’t find them funny. Am I taking things too seriously? Am I becoming unnecessary alarmed about the voice of patriarchy in remarks against women, especially against Manju Sharma in Comedy Nights With Kapil?

Though he has been taught many times by celebs to woo his wife, Bittoo Sharma keeps on making fun of his ‘bade hoton wali bibi’ (wife with big lips). She also keeps on checking on him whenever a beautiful guest appears on the show. This part of their love and hate relationship – it’s a cliché, because there is hardly any lovely respect – is still acceptable.

The ridicule Bittoo heaps on Manju’s father, brother, uncle, fact her whole family, though, is horrible. He calls her father a beggar, a pauper, a miser, a thief. This is not banter. I am not an “angry feminist” but this is not a laughing matter. The more we take  these comments as  jokes and laugh at them, the less likely it is that the perpetrators – Kapil, his scriptwriters with this mind set – will ever take it seriously and realize the errors of their way.

It’s a comedy show. I realize Kapil is not here to sermonize, or to be  didactic.

It’s a comedy show. I realize Kapil is not here to sermonize, or to be  didactic. He is depicting the status quo of  patriarchal culture. Though the tide is changing, men continue to have the upper hand as far as making compromises and adjustments is concerned, and women keep on playing second fiddle to men in relationships. Punjabis on the whole, are jolly people always willing to enjoy life. But Bittoo Sharma is injecting chauvinistic, patriarchal, Punjabi humour into the minds of his viewers.

Cultural values are shared assumptions about what is good, right, or important. Societal norms are based on values people hold dear, and we internalize them. Bittoo Sharma is creating a sanction for the unwritten assumption that it  is all right to make fun of one’s wife’s brother, father, brother , call them names, declare them beggars, paupers, cheats, swindlers and shoplifters, to taunt one’s wife for not bringing dowry and wedding gifts.

Her father and brother are bhukkads (gluttons), who always reach uninvited at parties and devour food stealthily. Why he has so far spared Manju’s mother is a mystery.  Her uncle is a watchman. Her cousin was caught stealing jewellery. Poor Manju keeps on protesting before her Sharmajee, to  not insult her family.

In a nutshell, Manju has come from a very lowly disreputable family. People are laughing at these jokes;  impressionable ones will internalize them and conform to them. Thus, their status will change. They will become approved  socially constructed expressions.

Manju is not shown making fun of  Bittoo’s family –  because that is not an acceptable patriarchal norm. If she were to do so, she would face social disapproval because it is her duty as a wife to respect her husband’s  family. Only husbands have the prerogative to be patronizing towards their wives’ families – the families naturally dearest to all the uprooted, displaced wives.

Whether Bittoo Sharma is following the existing social reality or not, he definitely is getting a chance to shape it.

As far as literature and society are concerned who picks up from whom is a moot point. Whether Bittoo Sharma is following the existing social reality or not, he definitely is getting a chance to shape it. When we see something being repeated so many times in our drawing rooms, it becomes very easy for us to accept it.

Social norms keep on changing; agreed? Television is a powerful medium; agreed ? Kapil by following this vein of humour(?) which is very popular and acceptable in the  patriarchal mindset, is creating an informal sanction for it in the Indian psyche. Look at how Punjabi apparel – salwar kameez has been accepted by women across India. Or, how South Indian dosas and idli are now pan-Indian food. Now, do you get what I am driving at?

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  1. Sangeeta Goel -

    Incorrect. Even the wife passes sarcastic comments on Bittoo Sharma and his family.

  2. i agree with some of your thoughts.. dont like him always making fun of wifey’s family. they also show that Palak who is fat and ugly is unable to get a husband too. what they can do is add some female character who is intellectual and be as witty as Kapil, maybe a sister of Kapil who can reverse the plates. Currently, all the female chars in the show are shown as dimwitted and useless.

  3. For God’s sake, it is a comedy show! Lighten up….I’m not saying the show is funny. I find many of the”jokes” to be in poor taste. It is slapstick, vulgar and low-brow. He makes fun of the audience. Fat people, women, homosexuals, people of other races, everyone is targeted. It’s not great but it is only to elicit a few cheap laughs. I don’t think this show merits this much attention or analysis. He also makes self-deprecating references.
    Please watch stand-up comic Daniel Sloss’s TED talk on comedians and those who they “offend”.

  4. I thought I am the only one who thinks this. Definitely it is a complete no no from my side. India as a country needs to be shown love and respect to women instead of checking out other women and dreaming of marrying them as well.

  5. Finally, someone said it! Thank you! I find the humour in the show sexist and not funny at all. Moreover, I hate the way how female guests are only ever evaluated on their looks. Everything you said is spot on. I am surprised that it has characters like hot, saaxy, twaanty-two-old Bua and the drunk Daadi, the only positives. It worries me that this show is so popular. I am not so sure that we can brush it off as “only cheap comedy” because, even though it is cheap, slapstick comedy, it is popular among the masses. It doesn’t laugh at patriarchal values, it only reinforces them.

  6. I am agree with opinion of this article. But people like it, so one can read mind set of people who laughs on others being fat or ugly or poor father in law. I personally dont like the language being used to make people laugh, For me this is no-no show,

  7. It’s hilarious and it’s meant to be funny. And seriously, where does men vs women come from? Why is everything about men vs women? It’s a comedy show, and all over the world there are mostly men who are stand up comedians, and it’s not because women are not given a chance!!! I am a woman, I watch this show – and honestly, everyone is picking on each other!! The servant makes fun of Kapil Sharma (Bitto) all the time; so does the wife; so does the dadi and so do Gutthi and Pallak!! everyone makes fun of each other!!! In fact, the wife (Manju) is always making fun of how poor and low class Bitto’s family is!! So, I completely disagree with you. So seriously, don’t take it so seriously! If you don’t enjoy it, that’s your take. Millions of people (men, women, children, grandparents, etc.) love the show.

  8. Pingback: Why I Stopped Watching Comedy Nights With Kapil? | That Feminist Life

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