Thursday, February 14, 2013

What actually is a SATIRE ? And what makes it effective and truly potent ?

We often think of satire as being some sort of twisted version of the reality, a parody of the 'real' thing. It won't be wrong to state that many a times we do not think of a literary or cinematic work to be having satirical content unless it consciously mocks at something : either a person, an institution or an idea. And to achieve that, many a times writers use absurd elements in their plots. And we accept that as a legitimate plot-device. Probably because we have this perception that being a satire, it has to be absurd and far from truth, and there is constantly a 'feeling' in us that 'reality' is something really dark and dirty and rough and that it is just too mature to be having any comical side to it.
So anything even remotely humorous has to be unreal and absurd.

In light of the above arguments, how refreshing it is to come across a new and revealing perspective shared by author Manu Joseph, in an interview recently, on the concept of humour and satire. This is what he had to say :

"One important thing I believe about humour is that at its core is accuracy. When you’re extremely accurate about something, it becomes funny."

So, in effect, he contends that if you are being uncompromisingly precise about something, to the fullest of detail without leaving anything, it becomes funny. Must say it is a really interesting viewpoint and sort of changes the way we 'believe' a satire or a work of comedy in general should be ! And if we think about it carefully there might be some merit in the argument too.
A classic satire such as 'Netaji Kahin' or 'Raag Darbaari' could be examples that actually lend support to the above point. In these works, the authors don't use a mocking tone throughout the narrative, to cater to our notions of what a satire should be. The tone, most of times is matter-of-fact without any conscious emphasis given on mocking. Nor is there, I doubt, any absurdity or 'unreality' included in the plots. I don't know if this is a representative sample of the genre or not but at least in these two cases the arguments of Manu Joseph seem to hold true. And effectively, it shows that life and 'reality' don't necessarily have to have a constant scowl on their faces, that they can possess a funny bone too. :)


  1. Nicely written..though not acquainted with the mentioned works but in life most of the things are funny enough to become a part of satire for it may mock someone's pain, agony, disappointment and obviously the pleasures and happy moments. You just need to make it as close to reality as possible and with the influx of media, is the limit..hooked on to the of late..

    1. @Amit Enviro : Thanks for the kind words and appreciation.
      And as far as viralfever goes, well I am hooked too.
      Also check out Key of awesome and How it should have ended channels on youtube. They are quite interesting too.