Ranjona Banerji: Kunal Vijayakar – very funny, very right!

08 Oct,2013

By Ranjona Banerji


At the outset, I take no credit for what I’m about to relate. The way events unfolded may be entirely coincidental but they are curious. A few weeks ago I tweeted that CNN-IBN’s normally excellent satirical news programme, The Week That Wasn’t now appeared to have become overtly right wing. Someone retweeted this to Kunal Vijaykar, surely one of the funniest men on Indian television and an exceptional mimic. Vijaykar replied asking what I meant and I explained that all political parties were made fun of but the BJP. There was no further communication after this exchange.


However, the next episode of The Week That Wasn’t had a little fun at Narendra Modi’s expense. The opportunity was immense – that incredible Happy Birthday to Narendraji song sung by Mallika Sherawat (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2i-OyKTTdG8). It was Sherawat though who bore the brunt of the jokes made on the show, not Modi barring a few elliptical remarks. And according to some observers, a line about Modi’s birthday cake coming from Best Bakery (which I saw) was removed in the reruns. Interestingly, I saw the line about Best Bakery doing the rounds on Twitter the day of Modi’s birthday, which was a Tuesday (September 17). The Week That Wasn’t is aired on the weekend so…


The week after that, the show struggled again to try and find something funny to say about the BJP and settled on LK Advani for some feeble attacks. The impression was this has to be done so let’s get on with it. This week too was weak and meagre at best. However the jokes about Rahul Gandhi, Mayawati, Mulayam, Manmohan Singh and sundry other people remain better than the rest. From the past, Vijaykar’s take on former president Pratibha Patil is perhaps his best, followed by his Mayawati. The last BJP person who was targeted as far as I can remember was Nitin Gadkari and he was easy pickings.


Sadly, the skit on Laloo Prasad Yadav this week, after he went to jail, was not up to standard in spite of all the excellent matter available for satire. I sense tiredness in the show’s funny bone. Perhaps it needs a rejig. Perhaps its writers need a holiday. Perhaps they need a better understanding of politics.


This is not to suggest that the show has to be fair and attack all political parties equally. It is well within its rights to be biased and support whoever it wants. In which case, it should inform us all of its intentions rather than pretend that it treats everyone equally. It does appear though that the TV18 group, after all the churning that has happened staff-wise, has become right wing. It was always evident in firstpost.com and now is visible often on TV. I’m not even alluding here to media gossip which is rife but just going by what you see on TV and read.


It is odd though that the India Today group which is often accused of being right wing and pro-BJP and RSS can come up with that excellent So Sorry series which pokes brilliant fun at everyone while The Week That Wasn’t no longer can. The So Sorry cartoon on Rahul Gandhi and the “nonsense” ordinance and Narendra Modi dreaming of become PM are two of my favourites.


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2 responses to “Ranjona Banerji: Kunal Vijayakar – very funny, very right!”

  1. Rahul says:

    ever since Independence, the mainstream news media has been a poodle of Congress and Gandhi family, did this writer ever ask any mainstream media to openly declare their love and submission to Nehru Gandhi family? But she has problems with a few satirical shows being anti congress? This writer in all probability belongs to the pro-Congress Gandhi family slave breed, who is just frustrated to see the grip on media slipping from their clan.

  2. DAra says:

    i was in splits when ‘So Sorry’ made LK Advani sing happy birthday to Narendra Modi . Looks like you missed that.