A few days ago I was watching the popular comedy serial “Comedy Nights with Kapil” while having dinner. Though I did not find the show particularly amusing, it did bring a smile on my face at some points.
However, what really came across to me while watching it was the sheer sexist approach that Kapil Sharma, and most comedians have in creating punch lines to make people laugh. Not to undermine the talent and hard work Sharma has put in reaching this level, but their struggle is not a justification to the kind of jokes they make. For example, in the particular episode that I was watching, Sharma was seen as making jokes on the appearance of his wife, that how even after repeated attempts in make up her face was still as ugly. Sharma then proceeded to talk about the hideous shape of her lips and her unruly smile. Although the Sharma’s impeccable timing and dialogue delivery makes us erupt into a kind laughter of pity, on a deeper introspection it is reflexive of many problematic deep seated notions.
The body of the female is always more attractive than the body of the man, because the gaze is always male. It is this gaze of man which makes women especially prone to falling prey to arbitrarily defined definitions of beauty. Conventionally, it is the men who have decided what constitutes a beautiful woman and put restraints on her movement, because the “honor” needs to be “guarded”. A beautiful woman is like a trophy that a man installs in his house and subsequently prides himself on possessing her in his social circle. Thus, the embarrassment of not having a woman beautiful enough is expressed through the nervous laughter in Sharma’s punch line. Because the first requirement of being a socially glorified woman is not work, is not intelligence, its beauty. Madhubala is referred to more as the “Marylyn Monroe” of Bollywood, than the exceptional actress in Mughal-E-Azam. Katrina Kaif might not be the best actress around, but she will continue to star across A-listers as the only thing media notices about her dresses and make up.
Sharma’s jokes on her wife’s appearance, though might appear casual at the overt level as each one of us indulges in soft humor revolving around each other’s appearances, but somewhere down inside all of us have fallen prey to capitalist construction of perfection and the need to ridicule those who don’t fall in that category.
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