What is it to be a stand up comedian in a culture that takes offence easily?
Director Jaideep Varma’s latest documentary ‘I am Offended!’, out on YouTube by Culture Machine’s Being Indian, probes this question.
It is the third documentary from Varma after ‘Leaving Home’ on Indian Ocean and ‘Baavra Mann’ on Sudhir Mishra.
Varma discovered the world of stand up comedy by chance when one of his friends invited him to shoot his show.
“I thought it would be really interesting to put it all together. It was a hobby project for me, a really enriching experience,” said the director.
The documentary is an interesting watch considering the controversy surrounding the celebrity roast of Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor by AIB. The group was forced to remove the content from YouTube and is now facing FIRs.
Varma, however, feels stand up comedy is on its way to evolve into a cultural force.
“These are very talented, very bright people who know what they are doing. I feel they are more talented than what they are putting out probably because they are still second guessing their audience. If they are given time to grow, they have the potential to develop stand up comedy as a lethal art form.”
Varma said he took it up as a side project.
“You can’t make money with documentaries rather you have to put in your own money. This is why you do it as a side project. Luckily, there were people who were ready to spend without expecting returns. I wish there was a way to monetise online releases.”
In ‘I am Offended!’, Varma has interviewed people like Vir Das, Jug Suriya, Varun Grover, Ashish Shakya, Tanmay Bhat, Sorabh Pant, Rajneesh Kapoor, Aditi Mittal, Neeti Palta, Abish Matthew, Vrajesh Hirjee, Johnny Lever, Cyrus Broacha and many more on the past, present and future of stand up comedy.