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Louis CK and the tale of the chronic masturbator; or How to separate comedy from the comedian

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There are not many bald, schlubby single dads in their 40s who can make jokes about their ex-wife’s sad handjobs, their daughter’s vaginal rashes or their passionate enthusiasm for masturbation, and get away with it. Louis CK did. Until Thursday, 10 November 2017 — the day that laughter died.

A New York Times story detailed the accounts of five women who accused the comedian of forcing them to watch him masturbate. Following years of rumours about his sexually inappropriate behavior, these allegations hardly come as a surprise. Louis now joins Weinstein and Co as Hollywood plunges deep into a vortex of shame, disgust and gross misogyny.

With his career imploding over allegations of sexual misconduct, comedian Louis C.K. confessed Friday to masturbating in front of women and expressed remorse for wielding his influence "irresponsibly." YouTube

With his career imploding over allegations of sexual misconduct, comedian Louis C.K. confessed to masturbating in front of women and expressed remorse for wielding his influence “irresponsibly”

Meanwhile, we are left to reexamine our perceptions of a man we considered as one of the most subversive and treasured comedians of our time. Will the new-found context contaminate our experience of watching his stand-up specials or comedies?

This question is a matter of personal relativism and can only be answered when we understand why we fell in love with Louis in the first place and how much or little their misdeeds affect the way you see their body of work.

Louis learnt his craft through trial and error in the 80s and 90s. Unlike contemporaries like Jerry Seinfeld who recycled old material (despite promising they were telling us for the last time), Louis restocked every year constructing fresh material bit-by-bit much like his hero, George Carlin. This compelled him to explore new topics and poke fresh holes in the fabric of society. Carlin once said “it was the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately.” Hung entranced upon these words, Louis set out to do exactly that. With material designed intricately to horrify and provoke, he constantly pulled the audience out of their comfort zones taking them on a journey of self-discovery and cheerful nihilism. He was ready to do a show for a lot less money if it gave him complete creative control.

However, if you revisit Louis’ old material — keeping in mind the allegations — it is hard to ignore the inappropriate and suggestive nature of his bits and dialogue. They seem like comedic iterations of Louis’ real-life behaviour.

For example, in a Season 2 episode of the FX comedy Louie, he has a debate about the morality of masturbation with a spokeswoman for a group named Christians Against Masturbation.

Louis reasons: “It keeps me sane. I’m a good citizen, I’m a good father, I recycle and I masturbate. And I’m proud of it. And God’s happy. And later I’m going to masturbate and I’m going to think about you! And there’s nothing you can do about it.”

In another episode on Season 4, the notorious chronic masturbator tries to force himself on his best friend Pamela, attempting to kiss her and lift up her shirt. The caustic Pamela jokes: “This would be rape if you weren’t so stupid. God! You can’t even rape well!”

His upcoming film I Love You, Daddy is a supposed homage to Woody Allen’s Manhattan. The film is set in New York and shot in lustrous black and white. Oh but the testimonial parallels don’t end there. Louis plays a divorced TV producer who has a relationship with a much-younger actress and Chloë Grace Moretz plays a teenage girl who has a fling with a 60-something director. And it only gets worse as Louis CK adds a personal touch to it. The film also reportedly features a scene where a character pantomimes masturbation in front of others.

So, no, the allegations do not look half as shocking when you scrutinise his material.

Chloë Grace MoretzThe New York premiere of Louis C.K.’s controversial new film “I Love You, Daddy” has been canceled amid swirling controversy over the film and the comedian

Louis CK and Chloë Grace Moretz in a still from the film, I Love You, Daddy. The New York premiere of the film has been cancelled amid swirling controversy over the film and the comedian

In fact, prior to the New York Times’ expose on Thursday, the blog Gawker in 2012, Roseanne Barr in 2016 and Tig Notaro earlier this year reported similar allegations against Louis CK. Notaro even referenced it in Season 2 of her show, One Mississippi, when a female character discovers her boss masturbating as she tries to pitch him an idea for a new show.

Fame and privilege allowed Louis and Co to do as they please with a clear apathy to the suffering of defenceless victims around them. A culture of systemic misogyny has made it possible for them to harass and assault without fear of punishment. The recent scandals have brought to light the magnitude and ubiquity of sexual harassment. So, it is vital to continue this conversation in order to weed out the Harveys and Louies.

Meanwhile, there’s no reason for us to feel guilty if we continue to enjoy their work. Our laughter does not implicate us in their crimes. We should not let their misdeeds interfere with our ability to gain our own meaning from their art.

Instead, we need to continue laughing at the comedic genius of Louis CK without experiencing any sort of moral dissonance. And to do that, we must separate the comedy from the comedian.


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Namitha weds Veerandra Chowdhary in Tirupati; R Sarathkumar, Bigg Boss Tamil contestants attend

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Celebrity couple Namitha and Veerandra Chowdhary are finally hitched. In a private wedding ceremony, the actors got married early morning on Friday at the Tirupati ISKON temple, reports International Business Times.

Veerandra Chowdhary and Namitha. Facebook page of Wedding Street India

Veerandra Chowdhary and Namitha. Facebook page of Wedding Street India

As Namitha’s love affair with long time boyfriend Veerandra has been in the news for quite a time, the news of marriage was not a shocker. Both the celebrities’ fans started sharing congratulatory wishes, and pictures as soon as they hit social media. The pictures of Namitha’s mehendi, sangeet and other pre-wedding rituals went viral.

In the mehendi and sangeet pictures, Namitha is seen wearing jewellery made of flowers and a baby pink silk suit that add to her wedding glow. The couple clicked lovey-dovey selfies together that have taken the internet by storm. Veerandra looked uber happy in all the pictures donning a groom to be look in a blue kurta.

As per the same report, they tied the knot by following all the Hindu marriage rituals. There were priests present at the temple who chanted the Vedic mantras. The wedding was completed around 5.30 am after Veerandra and Namitha exchanged the final vows.

namitha wedding 2 825

Veerandra Chowdhary and Namitha. Facebook page of Wedding Street India

For the D day, initially, Namitha was seen in an electric blue sari coupled with gold jewellery. She looked absolutely flawless. Veerandra wore a sherwani with a contrast of blue and brown.

Finally, the couple stole the show in their wedding avatars as they entered the temple for the final rituals. Namitha, in a peach sari, and Veerandra, in a gorgeous sherwani, looked like the most sought after couple of this wedding season.

The wedding was attended by both the bride and groom’s friends, colleagues and relatives. R Sarathkumar, with wife Radhika, Harathi Ganesh and Shakthi were the mains among the invitees. Bigg Boss Tamil contestants also showed up for the special occasion. The couple will also host their colleagues from Kollywood at a reception party in Chennai soon.

(Also read — Zaheer Khan, Sagarika Ghatge wedding: Couple ties the knot, reception to be held on 27 November)


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Film Bazaar 2017 in Goa: A microcosm of the movie business, and haven for cinema lovers

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The Film Bazaar (held in Goa from 20 to 24 November) is a bit like the microcosm of the film world.

A National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) enterprise, The Bazaar, as it is mostly called, is a marketplace (or sorts) where films in various stages of development seek their perfect home among directors, producers, distributors, sales agents or festival programmers.

The Film Bazaar, over the last decade, has established a reputation for being a place where new voices are formed, films are realised and connections are renewed. But does that mean the most radical voices in cinema are continuously being honed in India?

Image courtesy Facebook: @NFDCIndia

Cameron Bailey, Festival Director of Toronto Film Festival, is probably someone who knows and has seen the wide range of India cinema more that most Indians. Bailey wonders if the winds of commerce that blow hard and strong in a country like India is slowly taming the most radical voices and independent styles. Rima Das’s Village Rockstars programmed at the Toronto Film festival this year was the result of the Viewing Room section from the Film Bazaar a couple of years back. That’s where the triumph of the Bazaar is; where every year there are people who leave behind the apprehensions that surround the lonely uphill struggle of a filmmaker and merge in the competition and the community created by the Film Bazaar.

Akshay Indikar is one of the five directors whose projects are a part of the Work in Progress lab this year. His first time at the Bazaar, Aranya (Forest) is a part of the Work in Progress Lab, a segment which selects 5 films at the rough-cut stage. Over the four days of the Bazaar, five directors and their films undergo extensive mentoring and honing. The lonely passion of a filmmaker, working against odds throughout the year, dissolves into a pursuit of hope and realisation.

Just like cinema brings to us stories and people we would have otherwise never met in modern societies, the Bazaar too gets together people bound by endless passion of making cinema and their unique journey, much like Indikar’s. “I come from a folk tradition, my family carries the Gondhli tradition in Maharashtra and it is only the last two generations who have houses. Traditionally we have been nomadic community,” he informs.

His film is about migration and everything that is lost in the process. I ask him what drove him to make films, and his answer comes without a thought — it was a moment etched in his memory. As a young high school student living in Pune, separated from his village and lonely in the city, Akshay decided to go to National Film Archives to watch a film. The film they were showing that day happened to be Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali and for the young student a universe of possibilities opened, a world of city and the village and the divide that lay between. And just like that a filmmaker was born.

It is a story which most of us may not know about, but within the energy of the Bazaar, it is a story that stays with you and gives you a sense of the power of cinema and the journey of a storyteller.

But the Bazaar is not just about filmmakers. It is also about spaces, and far-flung towns. Farooq Khan, Administrator of Union Territory of Lakshadweep, is in Film Bazaar for a different reason. To remind the film fraternity that the most beautiful land of ocean, light and corals lie across the islands of Lakshadweep. And he is here with the Film Federation Office with the simple objective, to encourage filmmakers to not just use Lakshadweep as a location for shoots but to look the unique life and culture of the place as a setting for a story.

A short conversation with Farooq Khan made me look at the way the Bazaar draws people from diverse places. And they all believe one thing: Cinema is larger than life, or perhaps life itself.


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Shah Rukh Khan reportedly asks for Priyanka Chopra to be replaced by Deepika Padukone in Don 3

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Since the producer of the Don franchise, Ritesh Sidhwani teased that the Don 3 might be under development; speculations on the highly anticipated third installment are rife.

Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone. Images from Facebook

Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone. Images from Facebook

The latest is that Shah Rukh Khan as asked Farhan Akhtar to rope in Deepika Padukone for Don 3, and replace Priyanka Chopra who had essayed the role of Roma in both Don and Don 2: The King Is Back, as reported by Deccan Chronicle.

The reason for this major change is being attributed to the cold vibes between Shah Rukh Khan and Priyanka Chopra who were rumoured to have been involved. In fact, social media had gone berserk when Priyanka Chopra had appeared on a US chat show wearing a leather jacket that belonged to her ex, and which was being concluded to be Shah Rukh’s jacket from old pictures, as reported by India Today.

However, it is also being said that Shah Rukh simply wants Deepika as his co-star because he considers them a hit pair with blockbusters like Om Shanti Om, Chennai Express, and Happy New Year under their belts. He wants to recreate the chemistry between the two for the box office success of Don 3, as reported by India Today.

Priyanka Chopra is busy abroad with her American projects and is currently shooting for the third season of her hit TV show Quantico. Deepika on the other hand is embroiled in a massive public storm against the release of her film Padmavati.

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