Who gives a shit to Jeremy Clarkson’s crap?

VIKRAM MUTHANNA writes: Recently Jeremy Clarkson, that giant of a man, the patronising British ‘chap’ who presents Topgear, a show about cars on BBC Entertainment, did a show in India where he drove all over North India in a car fitted with a toilet in the trunk!


As he put it, “Everyone who comes to India gets the trots.”

Later in the show, he stripped down to his underpants at a party he had hosted to demonstrate how to use a trouser press. But no one cared. After all, we have a very efficient and ubiquitous ironing service on every other street corner in India. But then there was no need for a strip-down demonstration.

Thank god, in his imperialistic ignorance, he did not venture down to show us how to use toilet paper.

Anyway, his supposed unsavoury comments Indians living in the UK all worked up.

For some reason, Indians abroad seem more touchy about India jokes. Is it because they love the nation they left behind, or is it really because they fear they will be perceived to be like their poorer cousins as seen on TV by their new, white country cousins?

But the fact is, Jeremy’s jokes were laced with truth.

We still have hygiene issues in tourist places and so most foreigners have tummy upsets when they come to India. Yes, our traffic is bad, in fact on the show Jeremy says as he drives, “It’s terrifying driving on Indian highways” and points out the huge trucks without lights and tractors coming from the opposite direction.

So, why are we upset with a reality check? Jeremy pointed out the same issues we complain about, albeit in a funny and cheeky sarcastic British manner.

So, is it ok when we criticise our own country but not a foreigner? But then no one in India cares, it’s more of a bother for our country cousins living abroad. Instead of getting touchy, why don’t they come back or give solutions to fix the issues Jeremy was joking about?

Speaking of jokes, every North Indian has a Madrasi joke, every South Indian has a North Indian joke and every Indian has a Sardarji joke. It seems, Sikhs are the only people in India who know how to laugh at themselves and thrive on self-deprecating humour, thus making them the quintessential jolly good fellows.

The rest of us are too busy stereotyping others who are unlike us. We cover everything from their colour, culture, food to their hygiene. And we have the arrogance to point fingers at Jeremy.

Because the Indians in the UK were upset, the Indian High Commission sent a letter to BBC “to make amends, especially to assuage the hurt sentiments of a large number of people.”

How many people? 21.

They got only 21 complaints!

Every person who watches Topgear knows not to take the show seriously except for the car reviews. Everyone knows that most of it is staged. They know that Jeremy and his boys are forever indulging in juvenile behaviour. Why then is the Indian High Commission so upset?

We would prefer if they were more concerned with the issue of why so many Indians are getting killed in the UK. And we can assure our brothers abroad it’s definitely not because the British goons think that we have bad roads, bad driving skills and bad public hygiene.

For the time being, we are glad that it has not become an issue that dominates the Indian news screens and BBC news junkies are glad that no one is asking for a ban on BBC in India. A pleasant surprise. Maybe we have moved on from being needy for the West’s approval. But then may be all the trouble makers are too busy performing their dirty tricks in Uttar Pradesh. Other reasons could be that Jeremy makes a fool of himself rather than Indians, with his sarcasm and strip show.

Times have changed. Yes, India still has a lot of poor people but it also has a lot of rich people. Yes, we have a lot of illiterates but we also have a lot of educated people and the world knows that; if not by watching TV news then at least when they lose their jobs.

The media in the West loves to mock brown people and all brown people are put into one basket, the Indian basket — no matter if you are a Pakistani, Bangladeshi or a Sri Lankan. But that is slowly changing. The West now knows most Indians, especially in the US, are educated and are in good standing.

Indians there too have tried very hard to differentiate themselves from their brown but not-so-educated cousins from the Indian sub-continent. There is nothing more insulting for an Indian in the US than being called a “Paki!” On the other hand, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans, as much as they would disagree, like to be mistaken for Indians.

When I was studying in New York, a friend of mine in a hurry crossed the road suddenly and a car had to brake hard. The driver screamed, “You stupid Paki.”

My friend was smiling. I asked him, “He just abused you and you are smiling?” To this my friend replied, “I know, but I’m just glad he said ‘stupid Paki’ and not Indian.” So Indians abroad are conscious about their identity, they don’t want to be mistaken for a Pakistani unless of course they are doing something ‘stupid.’

However, it is a fact that whenever we see a brown man being portrayed in an embarrassing manner in any foreign media, we as Indians feel awkward and cringe. That’s because we are still trying to fight off the stereotype that foreign media has portrayed of us over the years — droopy shouldered, overly apologetic and socially inept people with a funny accent. But we are no more like that.

Yet we are so sensitive that in the recent movie Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol where our legendary Bollywood icon Anil Kapoor played the role of a bumbling testosterone-packed mobile tycoon, his silly two-minute appearance made many of us cringe. We felt Anil had lost one good chance to portray that a well-educated rich Indian can be as suave as a Western playboy, but alas!

So, the West will continue to find ways to mock us. But we have to find ways to mock them too. One of the best Indian stand-up comedian named Papa CJ mocks the British in a show in England where he says, “Yours is the only country so insecure that it needs an adjective before its name — ‘Great’ Britain.”

Then he continues, “I came to England because my grandfather said the sun never sets on the British Empire, but I now see that the sun never rises on the British Empire (in reference to the gloomy British weather).”

He also says, “We both are alike, while you’ll think that there is a stupid person at the other end of the customer service telephone line, we think the same.” Papa CJ finally adds, “You may feel offended with the things I’ve said about your country, but I don’t care. After all, I’m from the land of Kamasutra and I can screw you in a 100 different ways.”

Hopefully, this incident of Jeremy Clarkson will continue to be ignored. People like Clarkson are the least of our worries. At best, we must hear his comments and better our systems and as for his humour, what can we say? It’s just like his nation’s food — bland and unpalatable.

Best ignored.

(Vikram Muthanna is managing editor of Star of Mysore, where this piece originally appeared)

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17 Responses to “Who gives a shit to Jeremy Clarkson’s crap?”

  1. harkol Says:

    Well. It is said that Gandhiji was once asked what he thought of western civilization, and Gandhi replied “it would be a good idea”.

    Now that’s giving it back to the west with humor. There is nothing wrong in generalization if it is done in light hearted humor. If people can’t have a sense of humor then it is their problem.

    Don’t know why our govt. has to jump on everything from Google to BBC!!

  2. Nastika Says:

    I have see the video. If you like British humor, you will like it.
    Actually Clarkson has done worst on TopGear in other countries. In India he seem to be a bit restrained or it was edited out.

    Coming to showcasing car & driving, other episodes were better. There is nothing challenging in Indian episode – Clarkson could have got a better story.


  3. MA Deviah Says:

    I agree fully. So much fuss over a mobile crapper. Who will object except for those who have crap for brains? Doesn’t our high commission have better work to do? I enjoy the silliness of Top Gear. Most of the time Jeremy and his buddies are making fun of themselves. And for all those who take of fence I have this to say: Get a life!

  4. FirstReality Says:

    It’s only amongst indians that the jokes on the state of the country brings more outrage than the state of the country itself.

    Author seems to be trivializing the show and anchor and thereby ignoring him. What a delusional self grandiosity! He is the highest paid anchor in Britain. If you did not like what he said, at least have the courage to say so.

  5. Gokulam 3rd Stage Says:

    The editorial standards of Star of Mysore have fallen significantly. I don’t think I have read a worse “opinion” piece, ever.

    “But then no one in India cares, it’s more of a bother for our country cousins living abroad. Instead of getting touchy, why don’t they come back or give solutions to fix the issues Jeremy was joking about?”


  6. Indu Ramesh Says:

    Very rightly written. Who cares what that huge comedian Clarkson says?

  7. Bruce Pringle Says:

    Wow! What a well crafted kick in the pants from a very mature and observant journalist. I believe that no-one will have read this article with more respect than Jeremy himself.
    I am from South Africa and I can assure you that were this “happening” to have occured here, the sky would have fallen in, all our diplomats would protest by flying off to the UK for luxurious 5-star hotel protest therapy at our expense, and Ju-Ju the Elder and Crazy Bob would go ballistic.

  8. the colonel Says:

    “It seems, Sikhs are the only people in India who know how to laugh at themselves and thrive on self-deprecating humour, thus making them the quintessential jolly good fellows.””

    So what.

    “we have bad roads, bad driving skills and bad public hygiene.”

    So What

    “So, the West will continue to find ways to mock us.”

    So What.


    “I can screw you in a 100 different ways”

  9. The Trots Says:

    Yeh, you are right, no one cares what Clarkson says… That’s why his show is sold in 198 territories worldwide, and watched by billions… = )

  10. Rahul Mirchi Says:

    What is wrong with the author of this rubbih- He calls Anil Kapoor a legendary Bollywood icon and CJ Papa as One of the best Indian stand-up comedian. The editorial standards of SoM was not high in the first place and now they seemed to have hit a nadir.

  11. peace@gmail.com Says:

    Who gives a shit to Jeremy Clarkson’s crap?

    Apparently you do Mr.Muthanna. Else why the 2-pager on the eve of sankranthi. And this gets published in “Star Of Mysore” & here.

    But then no one in India cares, it’s more of a bother for our country cousins living abroad… Really ? What a load of cowdung by jolly…

    In my humble opinion it was not Mr. Muthanna who has stripped to his underpants here. Let me make my case :

    1. All browns in the west are slotted in the “Indin Brown Basket” and the west portrays us in an embarrassing manner : As opposed to us within the desh where anyone south of Vindhyas is a Madrasi & to the ‘Madrasis’, everyone Vindhyas and above is a ‘Northie’. From mehmood to SRK in Ra(crap)One, madrasi stereotype is alive and kicking. And ofcourse, all ‘foreigners’ are goras or kallus for us desis in India and abroad?

    2. Your dear “stupid” friend tumbled into the streets of NY, gets called stupid for his actions. Per your, being called a ‘Paki’ is an insult. So he was insulted twice and he smiled like a jackass? And you bought it..

    Papa CJ’s routine is awesome. But, the question is, can we within the country take such humour when the mirror is on us? If our reactions to Gere-Shetty kissing, Nair-Hurley wedding and every other movie(that seem to hurt the sentiments of some bloody group) is any indication, the problem is not with THEM. It is us ?

    You end your sorry piece with “..this incident of Jeremy Clarkson will continue to be ignored”. So writing this and posting it in a blog is your way of getting this piece ignored?

    You had issues with the brown stereotype by the west, but deem it fit to end your argument with a stereotype ? “..It’s just like his nation’s food —bland and unpalatable…”

    I’m sorry, this has to rank among the worst pieces I have read on Churumuri. Maybe Mr. Muthanna is ushering a san-kranthi here, he does mention change/solution : At best, we must hear his comments and better our systems . Thank you for enlightening us ! If only we knew this before ..

  12. Why 'The Dirty Picture' Is More Offensive Than 'Top Gear' | Mumbai Boss Says:

    […] because the episode hurt the sentiments of a “large number of people”. (According to this column, that number is, wait for it, 21.) While I’m touched by this desire to defend the distant […]

  13. Anonymous Guy Says:

    Muthanna is right.

    Folks who complained should do something about the sanitation in India instead of complaining.

    That preventing someone from pointing out that majority of Indians defecate in public will make the problem magically go away.

    A kick in the pants is what we need.

  14. Laxmi Says:

    Very well written. I saw the episode and dont see what the fuss was all about. If anyone has watched Top Gear regularly you would not find it insulting. Jeremy has been more insulting on some of his other episodes.

  15. Scout Says:

    If only 21 people complained, doesn’t it show most Indians abroad don’t give a damn about issues like this?

  16. dude Says:

    Ignore Clarkson’s humor while the whole world watches Top Gear!
    Nice job!(sarcasm)

  17. Jim Says:

    Seen it, done it..worked there and seen the ‘Indian system’..Im sorry but it’s laughable..rich don’t give a hoot for poor, poor could improve their sitaution but choose not to..companies (and I have experienced it many times so please don’t start saying ‘you dont know’..I DO)..are very badly organised, employ too many..hide behind each other and can’t make decisions or take responsibility..and last point, I’m sorry but Indians abroad are generally employed overseas because they are cheap, for nothing else..yes some are intelligent, well educated etc. but then so are many whites, hispanics, africans…and anyway with 1.2 billion you’d expect some would be…

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