My Father Doesn't Know What Snapchat Is, But His Take On Tanmay Bhat Fiasco Was Spot On

03/06/2016 6:50 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:27 AM IST
An Indian newspaper shows faces of two Indian iconic figures, Sachin Tendulkar, left, and Lata Mangeshkar, right, that are seen superimposed on comedian Tanmay Bhat's face, taken from a video he posted mocking them, in Mumbai, India, Tuesday, May 31, 2016. Police in India have asked Facebook and YouTube to remove the video posted by Bhat at Snapchat video last week using the app's face swap feature to impersonate cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and singer Lata Mangeshkar and show them arguing with each other. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

On the fourth day of being in deep agony, Baba finally decided get it off his chest.

"Ei Snapchat abar ki (What is this Snapchat?)?" his voice is on the cusp of a shriek.

It takes me a few moments to process this aggression over things he calls 'chhai pash' and has decided to forever stay clear of. ('Chhai paash' in Bengali derives from 'chhai' or 'ash' and is a very satisfying word to describe 'rubbish'. In a way, it's a more assertive, gratifying and family-friendly version of 'bull-shit'.)

It then dawns on me -- of course, he is agitated. His favourite engagements of the day - reading newspapers and then watching people squabble on television - have suddenly been clouded by this unfamiliar monstrosity called 'Snapchat'. In a long, long time in his successful history of being angry, he doesn't know who to be pissed off at.

It's especially galling since everyone he has encountered virtually, seems to be be confidently angry at someone. The newspaper editorial writer, 11 panelists on an English news channel, a handful in Bengali news channels, his daughter - and inspired by her outrage, his Facebook-friendly wife too. This is unfamiliar territory for my father, the official angry-er in the family. And he won't have it this way for too long.

"Who was this boy chatting with?" he asks, possibly ready to launch his millionth tirade against what he calls 'online chatting'.

"No no, he was not chatting with anyone. He mimicked Lata Mangeshkar and Sachin Tendulkar and took a video. Some people thought he was insulting them," I explain, skipping details of Face Swap, or the relevance of Snapchat.

"Was he insulting them? Did he really ask Lata ji to die? Ooooh, why not? Good only, even I think I shouldn't have lived to see this day. What is that... DJ waale babu, gaana baja de... Eta abar gaan naki. Mone hocche keu hechki tulche (Is that even a song? It sounds like someone is hiccuping)..."

"Baba, Baba, he was joking," I interrupt, sensing his deep resentment towards the Honey Singh-ification of Hindi music rearing its intimidating head.

"Oh... who was he joking to?" he asks.

"You know, in a video, just by himself. He shared it... like, you know, I share pictures on Facebook and people can see? So that's how a lot of people saw it," I offer, congratulating myself silently on having successfully explained what the issue at hand is.

A stunned silence follows.


"I knew it! This nonsense Facebook. What if someday this Shiv Sena people come after you and file police complaint... always cracking silly jokes and posting party pictures. How many times I told you..."

"But Baba, why will they come after me?"

"Why, why can't they come after you? What has this boy done? Facebook only no?"

"No Snapchat..."

"Oi eki holo. (Those are all the same). Today they said they will break his bones. Tomorrow they will say they want to break yours, 'why have you insulted Bora Pao'? What's stopping them from saying anything!," he rails.

I am both unsurprised and agitated. After all, the only thing we have ever agreed on is the fact that roshogolla is the most over-rated sweet in the world. We carefully try not to tread the line of no understanding. So, I decide to use my most effective line of defence - that he is old and illogical.

"Bah, so all logical people went to police over a joke?"

Just when I was about to rustle up all my Delhi summer rage to point out MNS is not all 'people', this link popped up on my Twitter timeline: "Lata Mangeshkar a 'so-called singer': Doesn't 'New York Times' check its so-called facts?"


It's not a great feeling to admit it, but my social media challenged father does have a point.

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