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#BringBackBLF is more important than you think

If you follow the Indian comedy scene you might have noticed a hashtag called #BringBackBLF popping up last week. For those wondering what it means, BLF stands for the ‘Better Life Foundation’, an Indian mockumentary web series released on YouTube in 2016. Following the lives of employees at the Better Life Foundation NGO, the series featured lead and cameo appearances from the biggest names in Indian comedy today, including Naveen Richard, Sumukhi Suresh, Kanan Gill, and Kenny Sebastian, among others. 

The cast of BLF: Sumukhi Suresh, Sindhu Murthy, Naveen Richard, Utsav Chakraborty, Kumar Varun, and Kanan Gill
[The cast of BLF: Sumukhi Suresh, Sindhu Murthy, Naveen Richard, Utsav Chakraborty, Kumar Varun, and Kanan Gill] via IMDb
Upon release, the five-episode show was met with positive reviews from critics and audiences alike, resulting in an equally acclaimed second season picked up by the streaming service now known as DisneyPlus Hotstar.

Clearly inspired by iconic workplace mockumentary shows like The Office and Parks and Recreation, BLF was praised for its subtle and self-aware tackling of a myriad of issues in Indian society – like the language gulf between those who do and do not know Hindi, mentalities towards the differently-abled and the infamous world of Indian bureaucracy. I could go on and on about the Michael Scott-esque lead character Neil Menon or his far more competent program head Sumukhi Chawla (think Leslie Knope with Rosa Diaz’s sunshiney attitude), but let’s get to the point. 

In 2018, a short time after BLF’s season 2 was released, Hotstar took it off of its platform. The move was seen by many as a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction to the news that one of the actors, Utsav Chakraborty, was accused of sexual misconduct. That was the year that the #MeToo movement swept through India, bringing many such instances to light and empowering survivors to tell their stories. However, Hotstar’s action also called into question its authenticity and whether it was just ‘hollow appeasement’ to appear part of the movement. #BringBackBLF was trending on Twitter, and the show creators spoke up about their opinions as well. 

Director Debbie Rao writes the name of the show on the slate
[Director Debbie Rao behind the scenes of BLF 2] via Naveen Richard
Why bring this up two years later, you may ask? Thanks to the efforts of college student Nishant Manoj, #BringBackBLF has caught the attention of the show creators a second time, and better late than never – we need to discuss the implications of Hotstar’s decision to take it down.

Objectively, it does seem as if the removal aimed to display solidarity to the victims of criminal behavior from the stars of their content. However, Vikas Bahl’s Masaan remains up on Hotstar, and Mukesh Chhabra’s Dil Bechara (understandably) received 95 million views in the first 24 hours on the same platform, despite both directors being accused in the #MeToo movement as well.

Yes,Kevin Spacey was rightly fired from House of Cards, but they were allowed to finish without him. What is more, none of the previous seasons got wantonly removed from their platform. Neither did the numerous films associated with Harvey Weinstein. Production simply went on without their accused members, and that is a choice that the BLF team was robbed of.

The show also featured a large number of women in the crew, including the director Debbie Rao, executive producer, and female leads. What is more, because of their contract, the creators do not own rights to the show that they built. This means they do not have permission to re-upload their hard work on any other platform either. 

Crew and creators of BLF behind the scenes
[Crew and creators of BLF behind the scenes] via Naveen Richard
I don’t know about you, but I was reminded about a similar spat that Taylor Swift had with Big Machine Records about owning her own content. Taylor came out on top eventually (as queens do), but what happens when you aren’t worth upwards of 300 million dollars?

Ultimately, I don’t know if DisneyPlus Hotstar will ever acknowledge or make amends for their actions. They’re a multimillion-dollar company with bigger fish to fry, so they’ll probably stop at blocking the person who restarted the hashtag (they did) and leave it at that.

Whatever happens though, hopefully, #BringBackBLF serves as a reminder about the danger of knee jerk reactions – however well-intentioned – and the importance of support for creators who have poured their hearts into their work.

The Internet TV Shows BRB Gone Viral Pop Culture

Top 9 Desi YouTube channels that you absolutely can’t miss out on

YouTube is a black hole we all gladly get sucked into. Time flies when you scroll through the videos, and a new amazing channel is sometimes the best thing you could ever find. And new finds is what I have in store for you today! I’m alllll for diversity so here’s a list of some amazing Indian youtube channels you should definitely check out, whether you are Indian or not.

P.S – I’ve tried to stick to the channels where the major language is English and, if not, uses subtitles.

1.  The Viral Fever
[Image Description : The wallpaper of the web series Permanent Roommates produced by The Viral Fever] Via Amino Apps
The Viral Fever, or TVF is that channel that started it all. One of the earliest IndianYouTube channels, it also pioneered the culture of web series in India. All of their videos are super fun, but their web series are the best out of the lot.

From the iconic Permanent Roommates to the hilarious Bachelors, their content is so refreshing and amazing.

2. Kenny Sebastian
[Image Description : A still from a stand up comedy video from Kenny Sebastian’s Youtube channel] Via Scroll
Unproblematic Desi men are a rare find, and Kenny is one of the very few. The stand up comedian focuses his content around every day desi things, and he’s relatable and his sense of humor is super clean. While his stand-ups are great, his best videos are his Chai Time comedy, which are almost like intimate, casual conversations among friends.

3. Buzzfeed India
[Image Description : A still from a video from Buzzfeed India Youtube channel] Via Youtube
Well, by Buzzfeed India, I mean Srishti, lol. All the people at the channel are great, but Srishti is the best part of the channel, hands down.

Their videos range from experiments to vlogs to satire, and their epic video, If Real Life Was Like Bigg Boss, is a must watch!

4. Film Companion
[Image Description : A still from a video from the Youtube channel Film Companion] Via Youth Ki Awaaz
Film Companion is a Desi movie lover’s heaven. From dissections to analysis to extremely candid interviews that give you a whole new perception of movie stars and filmmakers, this channel is inclusive, and dares to question the stereotypes of the Indian movie industry.

Their Tape Cast series was exceptionally creative and enlightening.

5. Kanan Gill
[Image Description : Kanan Gill is doing stand up comedy] Via DNA India
Let’s get this straight first: I have a huge crush on Kanan Gill. So does a lot of his audience, and you can’t ignore his uncanny resemblance to Andy Samberg. That being said, Kanan’s best videos are undoubtedly his satirical reviews of Bollywood movies, which don’t even spare iconic classics like Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge.

6. Filtercopy
[Image Description : A still from a Filtercopy video] Via
Filtercopy’s tagline should be relatable. If you’re South Asian, it’s guaranteed that you’ll nod along to every video. They talk about everything from middle class problems, love, friendship, family to every day things of millennial life.

Their amazing regular cast gets some exciting guests very often who spice up the content even more.

7. SNG Comedy
[Image Description : A still from a SNG Comedy video] Via Twitter
SNG Comedy is home to a variety of comedy videos. Run by a group of stand up comedians who are all brilliant in their own unique way, their weekly podcast series The Big Question is the highlight of the channel. They also have some fun sketches, my ultimate favorite being Bollywood Couples Therapy.

8. Unerase Poetry
[Image Description : A girl is reciting poetry at an Unerase Poetry show] Via Youtube
Found by the 16 year old poet Simar Singh, this bold and candid show of beautiful and evocative poetry is a must watch. Every video is honest, hard-hitting, and makes you think.

The best out of the lot are definitely Aranya Johar’s A Brown Girl’s Guide to Gender and Beauty and Simar Singh’s own Legal Rapist is gut-wrenching.

9. All India Bakchod
[Image Description : A still from a AIB satire video] Via Youtube
The people behind AIB are experts at satire. From Bollywood to real-life social issues, they deal with it all with comedy as the weapon, and they don’t refrain from calling out the problems. Their honest series are the highlight, and the podcasts and sketches deserve a special mention.

Do make sure to check out these amazing channels and content! Though it’s better not to start watching them before the days of your finals.