“The Freshers is the guilty pleasure of students of our institute – our Bollywood, our yearly dose of public celebration of mediocrity, repetition and sexism”
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that most Bollywood movies are garbage. Directors churn out the same bullshit year after year and get away with it because there is no incentive for change. The audience laps up anything that comes their way and the studios are happy as long as that continues. This works out conveniently since it keeps the entire fraternity happy – the directors who skipped film school, the actors that have come in through nepotism, the producers hoping to make a quick buck, and of course, the moviegoers waiting to catch a glimpse of Salman’s abs.
But there are some of us, most of us here in IIIT, in fact, who have had the privilege to look beyond the wall at better, greater things. Every time there is a new episode of Game of Thrones that gets leaked, DC++ comes alive with people trying to get their hands on a 1080p episode as early as possible. In addition to the ultra popular Game of Thrones, though, there’s also the LitClub holding discussion sessions on the filming techniques of Dunkirk. And there is another lesser known niche that religiously meets up once every week in order to watch a fringe movie that you and I probably have never heard of.
Theatre, like film, is a powerful form of art. Abhivyakti showcases students’ talent every year and their plays are enjoyed by the community en masse. The auditorium is filled to its maximum capacity and the participants’ talent is given its due respect and recognition.
There is no dearth of students trying their best to bring out quality art in their own ways, be it movies, theatre or simply by discussion of the same. But there is an event that takes place every year – you know what I’m talking about since it’s in the title – the Freshers, that doesn’t and hasn’t made an attempt to up the ante with respect to its content. The Freshers is the guilty pleasure of students of our institute – our Bollywood, our yearly dose of public celebration of mediocrity, repetition and sexism.
Just like Bollywood, our Freshers seems to be fascinated with the idea of a girl meeting a boy. But only more so, because ours is an engineering institute, and girls are scarce here, aren’t they? If you didn’t know about the aforementioned assertion, you certainly shall after attending a Freshers event because ‘yaha ladki hai he nahi yaar’ is perhaps the most recurring theme in every Freshers – one that all the houses partake and revel in.
Set in our very own institute, once the protagonist of the skit has finished lamenting about the lack of girls (and often the extent of their misery after arriving in IIIT), what usually follows are not-so-subtle jokes involving immature wordplay and puns about sex, masturbation, and couples on campus that only Pahlaj Nihalani would manage to overlook. I have been told that some houses have resorted to self-censorship this year because of multiple judges walking out of the event in the past, but stopping there would be missing the point.
To make it very clear, I do not think that vulgarity or the general immaturity in jokes are in themselves a problem. A guy lamenting about not having enough potential mates on campus isn’t vulgar, and no amount of self-censorship can change a skit that has a plot beginning in such a way. What is required is not self-censorship but self-reformation in a manner that can open up avenues for students to express themselves in more ways than the same, bland resort to carnal fascination. We need students to wrack their brains and come up with something more than the same rehashed plot and same unoriginal rehashed jokes. This is not for the viewers, not so that some judges can feel better about the event that they have been invited to judge, but so that the students can themselves use the Freshers as an event that genuinely pushes them to collaborate in order to come up with something new and use the event as an outlet for not just their first twenty days on campus, but for the entire span of their lives.
There are some who feel that the Freshers fits where it is, because everyone likes bakchodi (bc). Everyone likes, and wants, bc. Bc is a way to involve everyone because it’s universally liked. This is, however, an assumption that may not be based in reality. Game of Thrones, Westworld and Nolan being more popular on campus than Kya Kool Hai Hum and Salman Khan does indicate contrary to the assumption. The Freshers, in its attempt to involve everyone, alienates a large part of the community, and the participants’ expectations are quashed with the feeble skit that is eventually displayed.
As a fourth year, I consider myself very much part of the community that puts up the same Freshers every year, which makes me feel that this is my last chance to make the point that I have. Criticism from within is essential in order to reform, as opposed to criticism from outside, which leads to censorship.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that most Bollywood movies are garbage. But we cannot immediately change that. What we can change, however, is the quality and content of the events that we have in our own institute. Let’s do it!