No jokes on Shah out of fear: Cyrus

Cyrus Broacha at Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute on Saturday. 
Picture by Mayukh Sengupta

Calcutta: Cyrus Broacha, one of the most popular satirists in the country, has said he would not crack a joke on Amit Shah as he did not on Bal Thackeray when he was alive "purely, purely out of fear".

Broacha was addressing students at Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute (SRFTI) on Saturday afternoon.

Responding to a question on whether he was more politically correct now, Broacha said: "We try not to be personal. But I must say there are lots of people we haven't touched. We never touch Mahatma Gandhi. We won't touch Amit Shah. We didn't touch Bal Thackeray while he was alive. This is purely, purely out of fear. I cannot lie."

Broacha said that on "television we have to be careful. Ultimately it is a question of survival. What can you do?"

Living in India now is "almost like" living in the Soviet Union, he added. "It's almost like living in the Soviet Union and now under the present government, it is a bit like that...."

Broacha's session was on the role of humour in motivational man management. "We have to cut down a little bit on the hate that's brewing. It's now a little scary.... I just hope we take it a little laid back and easy," he said, concluding his session.

Broacha said that today "the sycophants in India are the problem more than the people". The sycophants are the ones "who go berserk and feel empowered to get angry".

He referred to his brush with Jayalalithaa, the then chief minister of Tamil Nadu. He could not go to Chennai for three years, he said.

Broacha insisted that Indians have to stop taking life so seriously and not be offended at everything. "Every comment can't be offence. Every film you make can't offend someone. Every painting, every movement, every piece of art, every conversation. There is no point living then if everything is an offence."

In his inimitable style, Broacha was equally scathing of Indian audiences. "We like laughing at others. We like watching others. We are a voyeuristic society.... We have to be able to laugh at ourselves more. That is not there.

"Especially if you are a VIP.... You can't make fun of the great man. Greatness is always susceptible. Sycophancy of India has to stop... too many sacred cows. We love the cow."

Broacha could speak his mind because in his own words "Calcutta... is the last city standing in terms of liberalism.... Bengal is the liberal face, the intellectual face of India.... So, for God's sake, let us hope nothing goes wrong in Calcutta."

Would he like to interview Mamata Banerjee, a student asked him.

"From Bombay maybe. Not from Cal. I learnt my lesson with Jayalalithaa."


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