What The Fuss: Has Kashmir Lost Its ‘Saving Grace of Humour’?

A Still from a comedy video

Kashmir humour these days looks like a race of struggling chickens crossing the road to get to the other side.

IN a bid to sound funny, many youngsters are following a mad race driven by Kashmir’s love for domino effect.

At the heart of this madness are some youthful faces whose social media broadcasts only depreciates the art of humour they tend to justify in the name of making Kashmir smile.

While one is focusing on the cultural commentaries, the other is deeply pushed into damaging the intricately knotted threads of society. Perhaps, it all looks like “sarcastic” content, instead of pulling out masses from the dark-gorge, is taking everyone on a trip down the distress lane.

In fact, there’s hardly anyone these days whose content gives a sigh of comedy-snob satisfaction. Or perhaps, it won’t be wrong to say that it looks like a race of struggling chickens crossing the road to get to the other side.

In his 1921 memoir, Cecil Earle Tyndale-Biscoe, the British missionary educationist who founded Kashmir’s grand old Tyndale Biscoe School, wrote “The Kashmiris have a virtue, a very important one – viz. the saving grace of humor”.

Even Kashmir’s veteran comedians think that humour in Kashmir is no longer a creative pursuit. But the new-age satirists disagree and call it a nebulous observation driven by the old school philosophy.

Ayash Arif

Ayash Arif with his best friend and celebrated comedian of Kashmir, Shadi Lal Kaul.

In our days, people performed as per a script. That script used to go through proper channels, following a roadmap that existed for things to be addressed. Comedy was never supposed to institutionalize discrimination or hate against anyone. It’s so disappointing to see the latent resentments used in today’s humor.

Social media content is nowhere near polished. Today, people are making satirical videos for followers and likes. Veterans never sought such ideology. They believed in ‘social message through humor’. Young content creators have even resorted to using slurs quite freely.

What lingers in today’s comedy is distress that flourishes in corners of the internet in the name of ‘humor’. Earlier, satirical content was made keeping in mind its repercussions on the targeted audience. This content lacks ideation.

Faruq Shaikh

Farooq Shaikh with late Shadi Lal during an act

There are two ways of expressing evil in a society. One is the serious mode of expression and the other is through melodrama.

In melodrama, we can express things through disciplined-satire. There are several topics which cannot be used in satire. That does not seem to be the case today.

This content is slap-stick. It gives a wrong signal to the young generation. Just see how today’s humor highlights drug issues. Instead of giving a social message, young kids are normalizing drugs through their content. Young people quickly tend to imitate things. Commercialisation of content in Kashmir has destroyed creativity.

A society is a conglomerate of different minds and ideologies. Satirical content should never pollute minds. However, this content is polluting minds. Comedy has its own timing and relevance. When people make videos out of proportion, the content loses its shine. These young kids are unaware of the fact that a stage is a score house of an artist.

Nazir Josh

Nazir Josh aka Ahed Raaz

This new satire is an extempore way of expression—whatever word comes to their mind, they say that. But, in any event, words do matter, and vulgar words never meet basic standards of human decency. It’s mainly crude and cheap humor. And as a result, this field has suffered a major blow.

It’s very easy to make content today and if these young kids follow a proper script, they can make a huge difference. Above all, satire should be used for some social message. Many among them are not able to see how disastrous slurs actually are. They’ve no idea about the satire’s grammar.

RJ Nasir

One should always keep in mind the sensitivities of a place. As someone who does satire, comedy or humor, we think that our product is the best. It’s absolutely normal to feel like that because content creators are just like that.

But then, as content creators it’s our responsibility to introspect. Content, it seems, is moving away from its traditional focus on quality, to pure distraction of likes and shares. This shift has surprisingly coerced creators to create anything and everything.

Today, a random content where the person dances like a madman is more engaging than an intricately made story. And it turns out that content creators are lured by such fame.

But, the difference is significant. There is a very thin line that, as a content creator, we need to understand. It’s our responsibility to maintain the social graphs through our content. One has to maintain a limit in his/her content.

And I think, onus also lies on viewers and consumers who need to check the modicum of decency in any content.

Rayees Mohiuddin

An artist has to change with time. For the new-age content creators and consumers, the classic comedy is obsolete. There’s a general sense that a young content creator has to shake hands with the new content—which may be right. If they fail to do so, it’s likely, at this point, that another creator will be able to build a social graph of a magnanimous size or a huge level of influence on consumers.

Due to the rising competition in Kashmir, a content creator can be easily outnumbered by other creators. But, the responsibility still lies on the shoulder of a content creator. It’s important for new-age satirists to show the evils of a society.

But since the social media platform is much bigger than the traditional stage, it’s impossible to control content today. However, as a credible person, a creator has to see whether his content will bring any reform, or does it touch anyone’s sentiment or does it raise any social issue.

Instead of showing someone in the bad light, people should focus on constructive criticism. Veterans should share experience with the younger generation. Demoralizing someone will bring nothing. There’s already a generation gap in Kashmir and the criticism will only increase.

RJ Vijdan

I don’t think, as it’s being said, that the new-age satire is misogynistic. I personally try to stay vigilant about all these things before making any video. Instagram and social media in general have given a platform to Kashmir. Many content creators juggle around South-East Asia stencil but I don’t follow any stencil. My content is purely societal. We’ve no avenues here except social media.

Before social media, we’d Doordarshan or Zoon Dab. There was a time when satire was available on Radio Kashmir. Then it transitioned to DD Kashmir. But no one among the bigwigs could sustain its quality. Where are those traditional platforms now? That demographic is struggling with its quality.

With social media’s boom, everybody has a platform. Since the virtual media platform rise, the hyper local content has boomed. This is the trend now.

I’ve never attended a drama school and I don’t realize what the method is. But, what matters is that people are entertained. Social media has made me what I’m today. I don’t agree that you need to have some kind of a sophisticated degree to step in this field. I believe that only the audience’s verdict works.

Content is of two types, one for niche and other for masses. I’ve named my character Titli because I’m targeting a mass audience. I won’t name my character Zulaikha because that’s for a niche audience.

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Zaid Bin Shabir

Zaid Bin Shabir is a special correspondent at Kashmir Observer. He tweets @Zaidbinshabir

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