All India Bakchod
All India Bakchod (also known as AIB) was a creative agency based in India. Bakchod is Hindi slang for 'senseless fucker.' The name was derived from All India Radio. It first began as a humor/pop-culture podcast in 2012, by comedians Tanmay Bhat and Gursimran Khamba in 2012. Their friends, and contemporary comedians, Rohan Joshi and Ashish Shakya frequently guested, and the four co-founded the namesake YouTube channel in 2013 and began to make sketches. They subsequently formed a comedy company, and alongside video content, performed stand up and co-wrote shows.
All India Bakchod
|Also known as||AIB|
|Years active||2012–2019 (company on hiatus; individual members active)|
(16 March 2019)
|Total views||387.62 M|
(16 March 2019)
By early 2015, they became a creative agency and started focusing on branded content. In October 2018, Bhat and Khamba were implicated in two separate sexual harassment allegations. Both independent incidents remain allegations and no formal charges were made. In May 2019, the company dissolved and stopped operation after being on hiatus since October. As the company remains inactive, all four members continue work in the comedy circuit. Khamba was dissatisfied with the independent investigation into the allegation against him and has disassociated himself with the company. The company's social media accounts, on Twitter and Instagram, remain active; but their YouTube channel is not.
Bhat, Joshi (based in Mumbai) and Shakya (based in Navi Mumbai) entered the Mumbai stand-up circuit between 2008 and 2009. Both Bhat and Joshi contributed to JLT (aka Just Like That), a weekly youth-focused magazine published by The Times of India, which is now defunct. They frequently performed at Hamateur Night (created by Vir Das), an influential open mic show in the Mumbai circuit and Indian comedy scene. Around the same time, Khamba (a Delhi based humour blogger and comic) connected with the three on Twitter before eventually moving to Mumbai. Blue Frog and The Mumbai Comedy Store (now renamed as Canvas Laugh Club) in Lower Parel and Cafe Goa in Bandra were instrumental venues that initially helped develop their stand-up careers. Bhat, Joshi and Shakya worked at Das's company as writers for award shows like Filmfare, MTV, and Channel V.
Bhat won a Hamateur night open-mic in 2009. He graduated from doing 5-min sets at the Mumbai Comedy Store to 10 and 20 minute spots. He occasionally opened for Vir Das and worked for his company, Weirdass Comedy, as a writer. He also wrote for Hindi TV and graduated with a bachelor's degree in advertising from RD National College, Bandra, in 2010.
Joshi began doing open-mics in 2010, while working and eventually quitting a job at CNBC. Joshi also worked at Weirdass Comedy as a writer and opened for Das occasionally. He is an ACJ graduate. In 2011, Joshi and Bhat started performing improv with Vir Das, Kavi Shastri, Ashwin Mushran and Anu Menon as The Cardinal Bengans. Joshi cites Chris Rock, Louis C.K., Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Hicks as inspirations. He wrote a humor column in Mid Day between April 2012 and June 2015.
Shakya won a Hamateur night open-mic in 2010. He wrote jokes for Cyrus Broacha's show on CNN-IBN, called The Week That Wasn't and started writing a humor column for Hindustan Times in 2009. Early reviews of Shakya's shows said his content was "community based". He received a degree in electronics and telecommunications engineering from the University of Mumbai and was a writer on MTV India's show Wassup: The Voice of Youngistaan which was hosted by Ayushmann Khurrana. Shakya also worked at Weirdass Comedy.
Khamba gained popularity as a humor blogger. On May 4, 2006, while attending Delhi University, he petitioned to President APJ Abdul Kalam against increasing caste-based reservation in educational institutes and government jobs. He was part of United Students, an anti-reservation student body, along with journalist Aditya Raj Kaul. He graduated from DU with a degree in journalism in 2006. His blogs included political commentary, satirical essays and film reviews. He also contributed to Faking News and gained popularity on Twitter. He soon transitioned to stand-up, and podcasting after moving to Mumbai in 2011 to attend TISS. He graduated from TISS in 2013 and his MA dissertation was titled, Transformation of televisual spaces of Indian comedy.
All India Bakchod began as a podcast and soon after became a comedy group and company. Later, they became a creative agency. Khamba and Bhat started the podcast on SoundCloud in 2012, after Khamba enrolled at TISS and moved to Mumbai. Bhat approached Khamba after watching him perform stand-up at Zenzi, now a shuttered bar in Bandra. Initially, podcast topics included discussions on pop-culture, parody songs and interviews with contemporary comedians. Joshi and Shakya joined the podcast in its third episode. Shortly after, the four co-founded All India Bakchod as a group and company. WTF with Marc Maron and Nerdist inspired them to start podcasting. When performing or working as a quartet they were commonly referred to as AIB. As a group they started performing stand up, filming sketches, and creating branded content. In 2015, they transitioned from a comedy company to a creative agency. Apart from podcasting, stand-up, and branded content the co-founders have often worked as hosts, actors, screenwriters, and columnists. The group cited Louis C.K., Patrice O’Neal, and Chris Rock as their initial inspiration.
Sketches and spoofs
After forming the company (and cutting ties with previous employers) alongside podcasting, they started uploading sketches on YouTube in February 2013. Their first series, AIB 365, primarily used mimicry among other comedic devices. In April 2013, they created a Bollywood award-show spoof, Royal Turds, and performed it live for over a year. In September 2013, their sketch, It's Your Fault, went viral. It was a satirical take on the Indian patriarchal mindset of victim blaming. Kalki Koechlin and (former Channel [V] India VJ) Juhi Pande acted in it. During this period Karunesh Talwar (a comic and writer) and Abish Matthew (radio jockey, anchor and comic) were frequent collaborators.
In December 2014, they performed and filmed the All India Bakchod Knockout (a celebrity roast adaptation) at the NSCI Dome in Worli. Karan Johar was the host and alongside AIB, Rajeev Masand, Raghu Ram, Aditi Mittal and Abish Matthew were participants. Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor were roasted. The show was uploaded on YouTube and subsequently removed from its channel because of widespread public backlash. AIB apologized and in press release explained their decision:
Calls to action
Towards the end of 2014, after facing public backlash due to AIB Knockout, they did not upload any content for four months starting December 16, 2014. To regain public goodwill, their first upload, on April 11, 2015, was a call to action video. In it, they urged viewers to send an email to their member of parliament to support net-neutrality. In February 2017, they made a video asking people to vote in the BMC Mumbai elections.
Branded content and web series
By May 2015, they had transitioned into a creative agency and started an advertisement division called Vigyapanti. Between 2015 and 2018 they hired and contracted multiple writers to work on branded and digital content. During this period the four original members, with a writing team, created a web television show called On Air With AIB on Hotstar—Star India's digital platform. The show ran for three seasons. During this time, their YouTube videos were all branded content. In 2016 they started First Draft, a film-making workshop. In October 2017, AIB announced Gormint (fka Ministry), a political-satire series produced by Prime Video. Khamba was announced as show-runner. The show is still in production. Their annual turnover in 2017-18 was just under $1.3 million and by September 2018, had 40 employees working as writers and producers.
On October 8, 2018, Khamba and Bhat were asked to leave AIB amid their involvement and complicit behavior in separate sexual harassment allegations. Bhat was accused of ignoring complaints of sexual misconduct and harassment leveled against Utsav Chakraborty (a former company employee and frequent collaborator) and apologized on Twitter for continuing a professional relationship between AIB and him regardless. In a separate incident an unnamed woman accused Khamba of violating her consent and emotional abuse. Khamba has denied these allegations.
Subsequently, Bhat was asked to step away from the company and Khamba was put on indefinite leave. The two were also fired from various roles they individually held on other shows. The company's web television show was cancelled entirely by its network, Hotstar, mid-season. In October 2018, the company was temporarily shut down and was steering towards permanent closure. In May 2019, they issued a statement that confirmed that their entire staff was let go, Bhat's suspension was lifted (but would not be allowed to return as CEO) and that Khamba had cut all ties with the company. Bhat, Joshi, and Shakya have since re-entered the comedy circuit, and continue to be associated with the company. Khamba, dissatisfied with an independent inquiry into the allegation against him, decided to leave the company and start his comedic venture.
Tropes and collaborations
The podcast initially began with parodies of Baba Sehgal, (Paaji Fuck All Control - The Pro Boy Feticide Song), and John Lennon (Imagine There's No Channel.) Raju Srivastav, Johnny Lever, Andy Zaltzman, Anurag Kashyap, Usha Uthup, and Russell Peters were among early interviewees. AIB's first foray into YouTube consisted of short spoofs and mimicry based sketches. Their work also included parodies of popular songs, stereotypical situations, and attempted to play heavy on nostalgia. They later popularized a satirical trope template, Honest Indian..., and replicated its application for situations like religious festivals, weddings, restaurants, international travel, life as a student in an engineering college and house parties. The majority of their sketches were branded content, and included promotions for AskMe SnapDeal, Furlenco, Swiggy, Bacardi, TrulyMadly, Google Allo and OnePlus. Their podcast guests, and work collaborators, included numerous Bollywood celebrities, global and Indian comedians and filmmakers.
In May 2017, Sanjay Rajoura, a comedian and writer, criticized AIB for making fun of Dalits (a marginalized ethnic minority in India) and being racist. Later in the year, AIB's progressive outlook was critiqued. Critics said AIB's work "replicates the very models of patriarchy it seeks out to address." In February 2017, within a week of being hired as a social media writer, 22-year old, Krupa Gohil felt, "the company in general, and the four founders in particular, saw the internet’s emerging conversation about feminism as just another meme-worthy narrative to tap into." Gohil said: "[an employee] made a meme about smashing patriarchy but he didn’t even know what patriarchy meant. It was just made and shared on social media to score woke points. These were empty, token actions.”
Bishnupriya Dutt, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Another writer, Nisha Karla corroborated Gohil's sentiment on the work culture and said that in July 2017, when she was working with AIB as a writer on a contract, a male employee dropped his pants and exposed his penis. This incident was repeated by the man, for three days, and when he exposed his penis in her presence, thrice in a single day, Kalra decided to confront the person, who said his "pants were loose." After she filed a formal complaint, the man was fired after an independent inquiry.
In early 2018, contemporary comics called out the group on their unidimensional portrayal of female characters who had no agency in their work. Characters in their sketches, podcast guests and their collaborators skewed towards being almost entirely male. The group addressed the issue and said they'd "work harder to create content that's inclusive." Since 2017, they have deleted material that has drawn criticism including videos Utsav Chakraborty worked on. Bhat's work has also been criticized by Bishnupriya Dutt, a professor of arts & aesthetics at Jawaharlal Nehru University.
On Air With AIB
On Air With AIB was a web television satire show that AIB created. It was distributed by Star India's digital platform Hotstar. It aired between 2015 and 2018. It was produced by OML and was canceled in its third season (after three episodes) amid the sexual misconduct allegations against the co-founders. The opening-credit song, "Tragedy Mein Comedy" (transl. Finding Comedy in Tragedy), was written, and performed by Mumbai based MC Naezy and was produced by Delhi based production duo StunnahSezBeatz. The format was a combination of in-studio presentations (like Last Week Tonight with John Oliver), vox-pops (like The Daily Show), sketches (like Saturday Night Live) and podcast interviews. Guests on the show included contemporary comedians, actors, and filmmakers.
Gormint fka Ministry
In December 2016, a report stated that AIB was producing Amazon Prime's first Indian original fiction show, Ministry, starring Irrfan Khan. In October 2017, it was formally announced Irrfan would play the protagonist in a "political satire set in contemporary India’s corridors of power. He will play a washed up, narcissistic Bollywood actor who is unwittingly appointed as a placeholder culture minister. Despite a crippling bureaucracy, political gaffes, and a team of misfits, he yearns to be loved by the masses once again." Khamba was announced as creator and show-runner. The show was set to release in 2018.
In August 2018, Irrfan left the project due to a health issue. It was also during this period that the show was renamed Gormint. This name came after the word, gormint, gained virality through a video interview of an old lady named Qamar, a resident of Martin Quarters, Karachi. She was interviewed by a Pakistani news channel, on which she was criticizing the government, which she pronounced as gormint (ɡôr·mint). AIB attempted to profit off her fame by selling apparel referencing her entire statement—Yeh bik gayi hai gormint (transl. the government has sold out)— and renamed their show. In November 2018, after allegations of sexual misconduct against Khamba surfaced, he was fired from his role as show-runner. There have been no updates regarding the progress or release of the show since. On May 12, 2019, Khamba uploaded a photograph on social indicating the end of filming but is not associated with it apart from being credited as a writer and ex-showrunner.
Allegations of sexual misconduct
Against Tanmay Bhat
On 4 October 2018, comedian and actor Utsav Chakraborty, a former editor at Huffington Post India, former AIB employee and frequent collaborator, was accused of impropriety. The allegations against Chakraborty garnered attention online when a poet, Mahima Kukreja, accused him of sending her an unsolicited explicit image. Before publicly calling Chakraborty out on Twitter, Kukreja had previously told Bhat about Chakraborty's behavior. Bhat confronted Chakraborty, took no action, and continued a professional working relationship between Chakraborty and AIB. This incident was the genesis of the Indian #MeToo movement in 2018. On year later Chakraborty made public statements alleging that Bhat did not act as he said previously and that Chakraborty was "thrown under the bus" in an attempt to save the company and called the allegations "fabricated."
In a series of Instagram videos, Bhat issued an update on his professional, and personal, life. He said he was diagnosed with clinical depression at the end of 2018, while the company was being shut down. He said he felt "mentally checked out," and "paralyzed and unable to participate socially, online or even offline." His statement drew support, and criticism from his former colleagues, and contemporaries.
Against Gursimran Khamba
On 8 October 2018, Khamba was accused of violating consent and emotional abuse by an unknown woman. She said they, "hooked up two-three times" and continued being friends. She added that Khamba drunk called her and threatened to ruin their friendship and emotionally blackmailed her for five months. Khamba acknowledged to a certain degree of misbehavior but has rejected the notion that he violated her consent.
Regarding the statement, he said the allegation was made by a person who shared a "deep personal relationship" with him. He said the independent committee set up to look into the allegation lasted four months and was "replete with procedural lapses and did not follow principals of natural justice." He withdrew from the committee because of this. He founded a new digital content company called Light@27.
As a result of these allegations, Bhat was asked to step away from the company and Khamba was put on indefinite leave. Both were fired from their roles as judges on the Amazon show Comicstaan and all other ongoing (now former) Amazon projects. Khamba was fired from his position as show-runner on the yet to be released Amazon series Gormint. The company's web television show On Air With AIB was canceled, after three episodes, mid-third season. Chintu Ka Birthday (Chintu's Birthday), an AIB produced film (co-directed by frequent collaborators Devanshu Kumar and Satyanshu Singh, starring Vinay Pathak and Tillotama Shome) was dropped from the 2018 MAMI Mumbai Film Festival. The film was to be released on Netflix, but that was also cancelled.
At the time of dissolution, Bhat, Joshi, Shakya and Khamba each owned a 25 percent share of the company. As of March 2018, the company collectively owed the founders just over $51,000 from loans. In May 2019, AIB announced that their Youtube channel was 'dead' for the foreseeable future.
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