Monday, February 8, 2016

Satire in India

How can someone be funny and serious at the same time? It is like asking me to see a respected guru in a capering clown. But, then, that is exactly what a satirist aspires to be and do. Satire seeks to make you laugh and make you think.

The point of all satire is to show up the foibles of individuals, leaders, social systems, history or even society at large in a funny – even ridiculous – light and make people think about their flaws. To be sure, not all satires are funny. Dark and serious satires do exist but the commonly understanding of satire is that it is humorous.

Satire can be primarily narrative in nature. In fact, most of Indian satirical writing is only narrative satire. Satire writing in English, I hasten to add, for it would take a brave man, indeed, to make a sweeping statement about the literature in so many languages and I am widely famed for my…err…diplomacy, shall we say?

By narrative satire, I mean that what is being said is not particularly funny, but the way it is being said is what makes it funny. If I am sharing a bed with someone who snores, and I find it difficult to sleep, I could say, “It is difficult to get to sleep when you are sharing a bed with a cement mixer running at top speed.” If it is funny at all, it is because of the metaphor for, otherwise, all I am saying is that “His snoring was so noisy that I found it difficult to sleep.”

It does seem like it is getting to be a habit, isn't it? For the rest you need to go to the blog of Tales Pensieve.


  1. What an in depth analysis and dissemination! It was indeed enlightening to understand the kinds of satirical writings, very clearly differentiated with suitable examples. Kudos Professor-in-the-making ;)

  2. A satire need not be necessarily funny always is often not observed and understood, it is sometimes even misunderstood! I remember having read Pope's Rape of the Lock in college...what a wonderful serious satire it was!
    Very nice write Suresh sir!

  3. Very informative post Suresh ! Loved it. Actually I was searching for an old post of yours , where you had differentiated different types of humor. Can you pls. share the link.

    1. Thanks Ash!

      Which one would that be? This one

      Or this one

    2. Thanks ! I had read the first one. Was discussing with my husband about the different varieties and remembered your post.And you are definitely an authority on the subject :)

    3. Authority? Me? You will ruin my reputation for pristine ignorance :)

  4. True Sureshji.
    I'm glad that satire lightens up the atmosphere :)