All India Bakchod (AIB), one of the most viewed YouTube channels in India, have recently found themselves in a whirlpool of sexual misconduct allegations. In October, a long-term collaborator of the group, Utsav Chakrobarty, was accused by numerous women of sexual misconduct, ranging from unwanted advances and nudes to implying a sexual trade for a feature in AIB content. Several underaged girls also came forward with similar accounts of him promising them roles in YouTube videos in exchange for sexual favors. Even though AIB did not aid any of this behavior, their acquiescence is as good as abetment.
It was confirmed by the head of their Human Resource team and one founding member, Tanmay Bhat, that the organization was aware of these accusations when they worked with Chakrobarty. With the rise of their popularity since 2013, they traveled around the world and host their own network talk show in which they provided a more liberal take on national issues. They were the “woke” face of the Indian youth, but their decision to work with a man who was known to make women uncomfortable and abuse his power revealed this image to be a farce. Their most popular video features French actress Kalki Koechlin, in a satirical rant about how rape is the woman’s fault, which also helped them garner over six million views.
Devansh, a Master’s student from India, considers this to be a financial decision, “Utsav Chakrobarty is undoubtedly funny, and because he is established, he is able to bring in more viewership for AIB. Regardless of AIB’s following, they don’t yet have the financial backing to want to give up a popular comedian.” He continued, “It’s not that they did not believe in the allegations, they just didn’t find it fiscally feasible.” He also added, “If you take these college boys and have people suddenly longing for them, they just don’t know how to handle it. They find these people coming to them and realize that they are in power here, and they have no idea what they want to do with it. They get drunk on power.”
The possibility that a safe working environment for women does not hold monetary value for a few niche comedians, is terrifying and unfortunately, irrefutable in this case. For an newly developing industry, issues like this can have severe implications and impact. This is not simply a matter of this one man and this one organization, it is a matter of power. Power, in our world, transcends any and all criteria: anybody can become famous for anything if enough people find it amusing. Allowing this, individuals who spend years working in a barely established industry, find themselves lost when they inadvertently pioneer it.