Borat

Anyone out there also not quite sure how to react to Borat ? Sure it’s clever, and even funny. But it made me feel uncomfortable about ridiculing another culture in such an extreme way…


But I guess I have seen our own Mehmood do the same take but much better for years in Hindi movie.
Mehmood used to do a great take on the Tamilian culture. It used to have me in fits of laughter, till I grew up and started to feel uncomfortable about all those jokes on Tamilians or on Sikhs. Even Bollywood has stopped doing that now, thank God.
Sacha Cohen is quite bright and clever, but not a patch on the tragic/comic timing of Mehmood, for those that remember him. I wonder if Sacha would agree to do a take on an Englishman in India in the same way ?
Shekhar

18 Responses to “Borat”

  1. kedar says:

    hahahaha…dude…
    i was working the whole night and then i logged in and was reading some of your earlier blogs. i was so engrossed in jumping from one blog to another and then back to Home and my eyes were tuned to see the title ‘ Into the Void’ as the last blog entry and suddenly at one point eyes read BORAT…i was so startled. for a moment i thought there is a deadly virus on my laptop…and then the next moment i realized that its a new blog entry from you. it took another moment to actually believe that it is really a new blog entry from your side and not a virus….oops…good night…good morning…

  2. Sid Singh says:

    I haven’t seen Borat yet, but after watching Saturday Night Live for 5 seasons (now and then), I know that americans make fun of everything, including themselves. In many cases they make fun of the stereotype instead of having fun by stereotyping.
    Apparently Borat in the TV series would make fun of how americans would react to the stereotype, but in the movie this was lost.

  3. Rudra says:

    Hi Shekhar,
    It is upto us indians to do takes on Englishmen in India . I havent seen one film made by an Indian Director that has our own version of 007 let alone, a comic take on Englishmen in India. Why should you or we expect Sasha to do a take on the Englishmen for us – dont Indian directors have the spine to take up such a project ?
    By the way , the English have shown more spine to stand up to Nursultan Nazarbayev and his fundamentalist regime in Kazakhstan – read about Tony Blair making issue with him about Hindus being harassed in Kazakhstan ? – our ‘secular’ government had nothing so say diplomatically , not even a protest note – the indian government , english speaking ‘intellectuals’ – including some directors of international fame shy away from taking up such a cause.
    Anyway , comming back to Sasha – i think he is tremendous as an entertainer – he has no issues with Indians , and comparisons with Mehmood are not wise to say the least – they both belong to two different Genres .
    You cant be comparing apples and oranges – both have different flavours. Mehmood , by the way or Bollywood could never hope to be as audacious or sexually liberal in Humour as Sasha.
    Personally , my reaction to Borat , is very sure – one of celebrating liberal Humour and i actually feel it helps racial communication by drawing out biases out in a humourous way.
    Cheers,
    Rudra.

  4. ravi swami says:

    As a Tamilian I can understand being the butt of jokes, but Mehmood always did it with a touch of affection and understanding of the culture which was spot on, which is why it was funny…
    There’s an underlying aggression in Cohens work which is unsettling – as if you are always aware that there is a sharp, incisive mind at work, which can be a bit taxing after a while…but maybe that’s just the simple-minded Tamilian in me…

  5. No one can copy our very own mehmood. Any self respecting Indian who has watched any kind of Hindi movies can never forget his comic timings.

  6. Lu says:

    Borat: I have not seen the movie, nor will I see it–the character comes across the previews as flat (I agree with your comment, Sid Singh). But apart from it, I do not think that the formula of the extreme kitsch is appealing: too many naive viewers would take it literally and mimic its bad taste, and if there is no cultural foundation of beauty appreciation and respect, then you can understand its impact on the young public. What made me feel unconfortable was the commentators’ reactions to Borat’s extreme stunts.
    But, again, beauty and humor are relative concepts.

  7. heather says:

    Dear Shekhar
    If I’d had the time to see Borat, I wouldn’t have. For me, Borat is like clowns who appear energetic and funny, but who radiate hatred and meanness, emotionally. When I was a tiny kid, I saw a classic TV show in person, that had a clown as one of its live characters. I hated that clown, always, and felt guilty that I did. Many years later, the person who played the clown was arrested and convicted of child molestation.
    love, heath

  8. Neeta says:

    I haven’t seen the movie. He’s a talented comedian but I personally don’t find him very funny. Maybe because the only clips I’ve seen are of him taking people for a ride, put together with some clever editing. Apni apni pasand I guess.
    I find Johnny Lever very funny and also Raju Srivastava. Here’s is a clip of Raju doing Sindhi, Marwari and South Indian
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mobdb_mHzR4
    I was in splits!

  9. Samrat says:

    Hey Rudra,
    I don’t think that’s entirely true. Many directors have tried to do a 007 in India to varying degrees of success. And I think the point Shekhar is trying to make is that making fun of another culture is easier than making fun of your own in the extreme sense.
    Don’t think that Indians haven’t ridiculed English though. Hell, Shekhar even cast an Aussie to play a Brit in one of his films. Splits my sides everytime.

  10. Good to hear Bollywood has stopped providing amusement at the expense of Tamilian culture. I dont follow Hindi – therefore dont see Hindi films or Hindi serials. But from what i read, i understand that the small screen has found another target – the Mallu culture.
    If they are genuinely comic, guess it’d be stuffy on my part to crib. But, i honestly believe that such ethnocentric comedy is best avoided.

  11. krishna says:

    the below has been doing rounds to many maild id with no action kindly go through Mr.Shekhar Kapur on my take on education for i want EDUCATION & perhaps you can help me sir not by money or anything but by getting this in notice of your close friends like Mr.Sam Pitroda of WorldTel who also happens to be the Chairman of the Knowledge Commission. Please go through & do the needful for EDUCATION FOR HUMANITY.
    Sir my whole idea is based on the tought that when loosers of any nation can also be turned into winners then there is no stoping the devlopment of that nation. i am using the term loosers so that it kills the ego which the foremost enemy of any human race. call upon all those people immeterial of who or what they are as long as they have atleat shown intrest in IIT [does not matter if they have not taken the test] give them coaching at army base [ferry them up & down – army base for it makes them more determined, dedicate & deciplined] the coaching start from basic in the likes of 2 subject [maths + physics for aerospace engineering] & span over 5 days a week for 2 months given by ace teachers of insititution like IIIT. then an IIT test in the current pattern those who get through it join the IIT with the immediate batch to join. at the army base along with education let a healthy body also be devloped so 1 army jawan be alloted to 1 student who will devlop him in feild like cycling. swiming, driving [immeterial if they also know how for this makes 1 self relaient] Sir no doubt you are thinking about the money required well have no doubts the money will pore in – 1] sue MNC who have promised & not delivered like SAMSUNG & HP [negligent in delivering free gift worth 1500-2000Rs]
    – 2] little ammount of donation from the likes of 11 so called criceters
    – 3] donation form Azim Premji, Nandan, N R Murthy etc.,
    -4] Rope in companies like GE, Honeywell, TATA, Relaince, Infy, Wipro, IBM, Mindtree to contibute to education saying they get 1st pereferance on feild training & recrutment & inter from the IIT`s
    -5] Get mentor like Bill Gate have a talk & give them leaverage in India as the same can also be done with Google as like Microsoft [use their compitative competation for our use]
    -6] e-bay seems good but having no method to differenciate realy from pirated products in a way plays a role in encouraging piracu – give them a run for their money.
    -7] little qty of money can be obatined by blogs having creative ads [gets a average of 2laksh per month bya ads]
    -8] use tax money
    -9] offshore company like boeing can be roped in too
    -10] out treasure chest the BCCI can eradicate all the needs of money twice over & still have its coffin filled. ok we sacrifice on sports now not that we are doing awesome or something but once devloped we have more infrastructure & can devlop better sport people.
    Kindly reply immediately as i have some more idea which can devlop INDIA in a span of 5 years & lay the road to 2020. the time has come to turn dreams into reality.
    forever yours
    A Student [who if you dont heed & help to will be a DROPOUT]
    JAI HIND [give me the courage to hold my head high & say MERA BARATH MAHAN]
    PS: students can be called for by using the modes of communication. paper news etc., also kindly convert all students to CBSE mode of education in 12th even if they are state for that will lay down the inroads for further devlopment of EDUCATION, HUMANITY & OF INDIA
    “I pass through this world only once. If I can do some good work, show some kindness to others; let me do it now.”
    – Sudha Murty
    To be successful, new entrepreneurs need the right knowledge, skills, role models, mentoring and contacts. PLEASE TEACH ME TO TAKE RESPONSIBILATY SO THAT I CAN STAND UP FOR OUR RIGHTS, BE THE LIGHT THAT WILL LIGHT MY PATH I AM SORRY THAT I HAVE NOT GIVEN PROPER DETAILS BUT U CAN CONTACT ME AT educationforall@hotmail.com KINDLY HELP ME GET EDUCATED
    Sir i write this to get into the notice of the people that even as they are concentrating on education at school level there is also a higher education which is what gives you the finished product & puts our nation on the map. Sir in regard with higher education i.e, engineering the students passing out from their 12th in the year 2005 were hard done with for :-
    The students from the year 2006 onwards have been given a cooling of time of 10mins in from the CBSE for the 12th class before the exam starts wherein a student can go through the paper & make an idea as to how he/ she is going to go about solving it in a bid to obtain the maximum marks. We the students of 2005 in our 12th did not have this & had to take time from the 3hrs allotted for our exam, thereby bringing down our total time for the exam to clear the paper.
    The CBSE has started to allow spelling mistakes in the answer paper from the year 2006 onwards even when we students of 2005 had the same Latin & Greek origin names & terms in our books we were not given this comfort.
    The state in their 2nd P.U have brought down the passing marks from 35 to 27 in a bid to increase the pass percentage & this is effective only from the year 2006 onwards only which we students of 2005 had again to miss on.
    In competitive exam like the CET we the students of 2005 had negative marking so we had to curtail taking risk while from the year 2006 onwards there is going to be no negative marking so the students can take more chances & also score more then the students of 2005.
    Even the IIT has been unjust to us students of the year 2005:
    The students of the year 2005 get just 2 try at the IIT & that to both with screening, while even the year 2004 students get 3 attempts at the IIT & the students from the year 2006 are curtailed to 2 attempts but they get to take the IIT in the new format.
    The IIT screening for the year 2005 in Karanataka was held midway of the 2nd P.U with exams like maths [retest] after it & even the IIT admits that it is mainly for the CBSE as they have a upper hand but oflate that trend is changing as the State dominates at the IIT.
    Even in the past the Board of Education has been unfair to us students of the year 2005:-
    We were the last year wherein even after clearing our 10th in CBSE stream in the year 2003 were not allowed to countinue for our 12th in the same school & we were forced to leave our friends, an environment which had very much become a part of us & also had to adjust selves to new teacher, their pattern of teaching & a new system of education itself.
    What we students of the year 2005 want is Educational Justice from the IIT while giving full credits to those students who joint the IIT last year & respecting the fact that they are a notch above us but then during this 1 year from the last IIT-JEE we students have toiled & sweat our blood out to make us worthy of the IIT so all we request is for:-
    A IIT test to be held for those students who brought the registration forms for the IIT-JEE 2005 immeterial of their performance based on the new pattern test of the IIT-JEE. Those who brought their registration forms in 2005 for many of us have not been let to take the IIT again this year from our family saying that by concentrating on IIT our 1st sem marks in our proffesional courses would come down & we do not want these 1st sem marks to be taken in account as we always considered ourselves only as part of the IIT & not of the present institution.
    For proof we speed post all the material obtained mainly the booklet or the performance card [students be let to take the exam for its in their own risk & courage immerterial of their past performance] from the IIT on registaring to a body set up for this by the President or the P.M of India from where we get a new admit card for the IIT test to be held for us in a span of 3 weeks
    The President or the P.M of India can make a blog & give us students who are taking the exam the password & the username so that we can give some suggestion for the 3 week training, venue of the exam & the topics for the exam for in 3 weeks we cant go through the complete 12th standard books in detail but major parts like Calculus, mensuration, trignomentry etc., & be trained in vedic maths which will not only help us for the IIT test but also in our future life.
    The CATCH for the test
    Those students enrolling for the test will have to leave their current place of study for a leave of 3 weeks nearly a month will have them cut off from that stream of education this so that the number of students enrolling will be kept to a minimum & only the bold will enroll for the IIT is a place for the bold only like the Stock Market. If the Govt. finds it ok then those students who enroll but due to ill luck do not get through then they can be sent for a paymen seat at the NIT of their choice.
    Those students enroling on clearing the test will join the 1st sem at the IIT in a course of their choice.
    Those students clearing the test will be let to join a course of their choice but at the IIT where 1 of their relative [as in cousin, uncle, brother etc.,] has read [show proof by explaining relationship & his studyng in that IIT] & the 1st genration of a family in the IIT be sent to IIT like IIT-R. This is to improve the ranking of the IIT-R which is now placed below NIT where there are payment seat unlike in the IIT & merit should always be above payment.
    This IIT test written about above does not cause any problem for the IIT have now maintained for a long time that can accomedate quite a few more students so why not those who know the value of the IIT & are willing to risk their career, life & education for the IIT.
    This IIT test will also bring about the all around welfare of the nation as it will bring a upward surge in the Talent & Creativity Index of the nation above China as we are now beneath it & this alone can realise 2020. Also a thing to note is that only the educated & those who value education can spread the need for education around on which i will write in the blog when & if the President or the P.M of India make it acknowledging the need & importance of education & the despiration, thirst of the students of the year 2005 for it.
    PLEASE SIR HELP ME ATTAIN EDUCATION & DO NOT DEPRIVE ME OF IT I BEG YOU TO HELP US SUR SO PLASE HELP US ON LACK OF PERFORMANCE INFORM US & GIVE US A MONTH TIME IF WE DO NOT MAKE UP THEN KICK US OUT BUT PLEASE SIR HAVE A LOOK AT THE PLANS & HELP US ATTAIN EDUCATION. PLASE SIR PLEASE. WE ARE DESPERATE KINDLY HELP US.
    sir when the iit takes problem regarding intake of girl students then why not consider us as a whole wherein there might be quite a few girls but overall our courage & willingness to sacrifice everything for iit education should be considered & we should be helped thanking you. sir also the iit will no how good the new test pattern is for we are willing to be the trail run . please help us attain education. SIR IITKGP IS GOING TO START MBBS FROM 2009 & ARE ALSO LOOKING TO INCREASE THE INTAKE FROM 5500 STUDENTS PER YEAR TO 11,OOO PER YEAR SO SIR WHY DONT YOU SET THE TREND NOW. SIR LETS REMEMBER THAT WE ARE IN THE LAND WHERE SAGE DADHICHI HAD HIS HEAD BLOWN TO PARTS IN ORDER TO IMPART EDUCATION TO THE ASHWINI TWINS & SIR ALSO KINDLY REMEMBER AS I HAD WRITTEN BEFORE THIS IS MY LAST TRY AT IIT IF YOU WILL PROVIDE ME WITH IT FOR BAD PERFORMANCE IN 05 HAS RESULTED IN MY NOT BEING ABLE TO BUY THE REGISTRATION FORM THIS TIME & I AM ALSO NOT FINANCIALY INDEPENDENT & DO NOT THINK THAT YOU WOULD HAVE WANTED ME TO ROB THE MONEY NEEDED. ABOVE ALL SIR I HAVE TAKEN A WEEK+ OFF FROM MY COLLAGE MISSED LAB & GRAPHIC CLASSES & SHORT ON ATTENDANCE AS I NEEDED TIME TO CHECK THE FACTS WHICH I PRESENTED TO YOU. SO MY CAREER & LIFE IS ALREADY IN TATTERS SO ONLY YOU BY PROVIDING EDUCATION CAN HELP ME.
    SIR YOU ARE EDUCATED & KNOW THE VALUE OF EDUCATION KINDLY DO THE NEEDFULL.
    SIR IF NEED BE THE STUDENTS ALSO HAVE A TALK WITH THE PRESIDENT WHERE THEY GIVE THEIR IDEAS TO IMPROVE VARIOUS DEPARTMENT LIKE ECONOMY, RURAL EDUCATION ETC., & ONLY THOSE WHO GIVE GOOD IDEAS BE LET IN THE IIT & THE OTHERS CAN BE HELPED TO A PAYMENT SEAT IN THE NIT & AIEEE.
    IIT RUNS ON CRATIVITY INNOVATION THINKING & LOGICAL REASONING SO WHY NOT HELP US. TEST US AS I ASKED PLEASE & YOU WILL HAVE ONLY THE BEST I ASSURE YOU. KINDLY HELP. AS I HAVE SAID I RESPECT THOSE WHO GOT IN LAST YEAR ITSELF & KNOW THEY ARE ABOVE ME BUT AS THE CHANCE IS THERE LETS USE IT. EXPECTING A LOT FROM YOU SIR
    BE IN IIT OR DIE ASPIRANT OF IIT.

  12. Dayal M says:

    Hello Shekhar,
    Yes, Bollywood has stopped making fun of people… so nowadays I rarely laugh when I sit and watch a Bollywood film. Sometimes I wonder whether my fellow Indians have a sense of humour or not !
    We have much fewer comic geniuses in Bollywood than we do airbrushed, excessively metrosexual actors doing mediocre song & dance sequences, and with all the pretenses of great choreography. They make such a hue and cry about how the dancing is so important and so technically brilliant. My Dad can dance like that if he tries, bless him ! I tell them: go & f***ing watch Michael Jackson’s performance of Billie Jean in Motown, 1983. Let that be inspiration ! (pardon my French, it comes from the heart, without an apology)
    But I wonder what people would ACTUALLY find more entertaining ?! This choreographed nonsense or a comic film of the calibre of Mehmood Ali or Peter Sellers ?
    Mehmood Ali was HILARIOUS in Padosan. Humour is best I believe at the slight but inconsequential expense of another. SO I believe we in India should RESUME making fun of one another, in a spirit that can only be brotherhood.
    Contrary to your impressions, sir, I’m NOT a wingeing old man with urinary incontinence (promise !). I’m only 23, and a proud Indian who lives in London, and I feel helplessly bored every time I watch a Hindi film. Except when the pretty girls enter stage. Ahem. I truly feel Indian cinema could achieve SO much more, over and above its many glories. We need to show the world our films, and how great they can be, and I DON’T just mean to Indians living abroad, they love it already. You sir, I believe are the closest an Indian has got to an Oscar, with Elizabeth. So what do we do ??!
    Is there really such a paucity of talent and handsomeness among the rising generation of youth in India that we resort to watching the same people day in day out for each decade ??! I say no it isn’t !
    Give me a film I tell you…I’ll show them how it’s done, one day ! 😉
    Love, and happy new year !
    Ciao
    Dayal

  13. Akshay Kapur says:

    Shekhar,
    On the topic of caste and gender stereotypes, I would like to raise the issue of the goings-on in the Hindi Television industry. I am referring to the soap operas that are busy dishing out loads of terribly beaten-up saas-bahu-vamp stories. (by the way, notice how vamps are typically dark women with big green/blue eyes and tons of make-up!)
    It is true that the media reflects the culture and the mindset of the nation and that it provides what the people crave for. I live in the US where the news media is the king of all media when it comes to exploiting issues – Democrat or Republican bashing, Conservative vs Liberal, White vs Black, Free Market vs Locked Down etc. depending on the channel you flip. But in this case, there is at least a semblance that the content is intelligently crafted.
    My question is – are we Indians that dumb that our cable companies can take us for granted and throw the same trash at us that it has been doing ever since they came into inception – seems like time has stood still and nothing has changed (save for the slick packaging) from Zee TV’s Tara in the early 90’s through Ghar Ki Lakshmi Betiyan in 2007. Its amusing to hear that the folks behind the “Ghar Ki …” show claim that the initial advertising campaign that provoked the ire from the feminists, was in fact a representation of the social state of the nation and that they were doing the honorable job of speaking up. I have seen this show on and off and its pretty apparent that the media isn’t really addressing these issues but rather reinforcing them.
    Is it a fact that our audience has an insatiable appetite for such prejudiced content?
    – Akshay Kapur

  14. shekhar says:

    Akshay, From time immemorial, entertaimnent companies have blamed their product on the so called ‘mass appeal’or lowest common denominator. Yet I can remember the TV serial I acted in called Uran. I was the love interest. The serial was on the struggles and ris eof a young girl that waned to be a CBI officer and how she rose to that rank despite all the prejudices against a woman. It was made by Kavita Chowdhrey on Doordarshan at a time when the viewer did not have a choice, but now with so much choice the serilas have gone down in content and are socially backward. And yes encourage anti gender issues. I agree. But I do not blame the viewer. It is the responsibility of the producers of those serials.
    How about a serial on aids ? Many years back the Mexican goverment ran a tele nova on population control. By the end of the episodes wemon were thronging to centres to learn about contraception. The tele serial had inspired them.
    We need more stuff like that,
    Shekhar

  15. Akshay Kapur says:

    Shekhar,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I have quite a vivid recollection of Uran – its my all time my favorite, right up with Fauji!
    I believe that smart production houses need to stand up, perform some market segmentation, and realize there are smart consumers (or consumers that have potential to watch “smarter ” content). I truly believe there is a huge market opportunity out there. There are millions of individuals out there who can barely tolerate these soap operas, and would appreciate more creative content. At the end of the day, television in India commands a gigantic unparalleled viewership. (I can’t help thinking about my Marketing MBA class …)
    While we debate this topic here, I guess Ekta Kapoor is pretty busy thinking about another name starting with a ‘K’ for her next in line. Maybe its time for the other Kapur to take charge and prove there is a viable commercial opportunity – are you thinking going small screen anytime Shekhar?
    Akshay

  16. dip yadav says:

    shekharji plz mere andar ka kalakar mar raha hai. mai 24 sal ka ladka hu gujrat se, maine kai gujrati drama me kam kiya hai or telifilm me bhi so plz muje rah dikhaye or aage badhaye mai apne mata pita k sapne poore karna chahta hu

  17. Melissik says:

    One afternoon, I was in the backyard hanging the laundry when an old, tired-looking dog wandered into the yard. I could tell from his collar and well-fed belly that he had a home. But when I walked into the house, he followed me, sauntered down the hall and fell asleep in a corner. An hour later, he went to the door, and I let him out. The next day he was back. He resumed his position in the hallway and slept for an hour.
    This continued for several weeks. Curious, I pinned a note to his collar: “Every afternoon your dog comes to my house for a nap. ”
    The next day he arrived with a different note pinned to his collar: “He lives in a home with ten children – he’s trying to catch up on his sleep.”
    I cried from laughter
    Sorry, if not left a message on Rules.

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