Tannishtha Chatterjee walks out of ‘Comedy Nights Bachao Taaza’

Actress Tannishtha Chatterjee, who was invited on comedy show ‘Comedy Nights Bachao Taaza’, stormed out of the show after the hosts made fun of her skin colour. She came on the show to promote her acclaimed film ‘Parched’, which released in India last week.

However, the 35-year-old actress was in for a shock when she was described as “kaali kalooti” and asked if she has been eating jamun (blackberries) since childhood as a result of which “mooh kala hai”.

Tannishtha, in a long, strongly-worded Facebook post, wrote about her frustration with the way her skin tone was made fun of.

The actress said that she was told in advance that the show follows the 'roast' or insult comedy format. She thought it would be on the lines of US TV shows like ‘Saturday Night Live’, and was actually looking forward to it.

"Then this show began. And this was an entirely novel understanding of roast that equates itself with bullying. To my utmost horror, I soon realised that the only quality they found worth roasting about in me was my skin tone. It began with 'aap ko jamun bahut pasand hoga zaroor! Kitna jamun khaya aapne bachpan se?' And went on in that direction," she wrote.

Tannishtha said that she initially tried to go along with the show, but could not tolerate the "offensive" jokes after a point.

"I could not believe I was sitting in a nationally televised comedy show in 2016 in Mumbai amid such regressive (I can't call it humour), and blatantly racist content. Though I was feeling suffocated, I decided to give it another chance, and sat through another equally offensive segment,” she added.

The Facebook post further read, "Nothing changed. I could not sit there anymore. I had to leave. When I told the organisers what I felt, they said, 'But we told you it is a roast!' I explained to them the common perception of roast and how it is different from bully. That there is no humour value in a joke about someone’s physical attributes, especially one that stems from deep prejudices."

Tannishtha said many of her friends told her not to take the jokes seriously but she argued that something which comes from deep-rooted biases and a hangover of white skin should not be made fun of.

The actress said while she had nothing personal against the show, she felt that making fun of skin tone is not roast, in a country where people don't get jobs because of their complexion, where every matrimonial advert demands a fair bride or groom and the colour bias is so strong and rooted in the caste system.

"Even considering that dark skin is a joke comes from that very deep prejudice. I tried to explain why this is not personal and it is a larger issue about what our mindset is and why cracking jokes about deep biases in our society is irresponsible," the actress wrote.

‘Comedy Nights Bachao Taaza’ is hosted by popular stand-up comedians Krushna Abhishek, Bharti Singh, Mona Singh and others.