Bollywood has a messed up sense of humor and has been making us laugh at tasteless jokes for a very long time. In fact, films that thrived on offensive gags rather than witty comedies increasingly dominated the category. When it comes to humor, it takes a lot of skill to know where to strike. Slapstick comedy, which is the norm in Hindi cinema, is favored. But right now we have to turn to the dark side.

Dark comedy, a difficult genre to break into, has been largely shunned from Indian screens and audiences. And even when some directors have attempted to take the plunge, the films have rarely proven to be particularly noteworthy. However, along the way, we got to see a few movies that left us wishing our filmmakers would explore that dimension of comedy frequently.

The dark comedy subgenre, where you’re expected to laugh at lewd jokes, has nevertheless recently been gaining more attention from filmmakers. If we talk about the most recent movies, darlingswhich was produced by Alia Bhatt, made a lot of noise and stood out from the rest of the movies released this year.

The film included humor while tackling a sensitive topic – in this case, domestic violence – and did so in a way that was meant to piss off audiences. Yet that is the essence of this kind of comedy, and darlings‘ An expertly crafted story and solid performances elevated its morbid spirit to exceptional heights.

But in doing so, the film is hardly unusual. It’s a must-see film, but it’s not exactly a groundbreaking undertaking for Bollywood in this area. Before that, movies like Kaalakaandi, belly of delhi, Andhadhun, Blackmailand many more have broken through the barriers to bring ominous humor to the screen.

belly of delhi
The Indian Express

While we’re talking dark comedy, it would be a sin to overlook Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, Bollywood’s pioneering attempt at gallows humor. A glimpse of corruption in Indian politics, government, media and business was portrayed in the film directed by Kundan Shah, which was way ahead of its time. The film is considered a cult classic for its scathing and cynical depiction of the extremities of morality and ethics.

    Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro
MUBI

Even though there has been little work on this subject so far, some of it has been quite remarkable. In truth, several films deserved far more recognition than they ever earned and unfortunately got lost in the whirlwind of other films.

If we are discussing a movie like Kaalakaandi, it was a real gem that should not be overlooked. Although very few remember it, this masterpiece starring Saif Ali Khan tackles a convoluted plot while finding hilarity in the most unlikely of circumstances. It also drips with sinister humor.

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Saif has embarked on a new path distinct from the traditional projects he is known to be involved in long before we noticed him in sacred games like his reinvented avatar. Unfortunately, despite actors like Sobhita Dhulipala, Vijay Raaz and Deepak Dobriyal, the film failed to capture the attention of the audience.

The actor had already starred in other black comedies, so this was not his breakthrough. He starred in the equally excellent but lesser known film titled To be Cyrus. A dysfunctional Parsi family is the focus of Homi Adajania’s 2005 film. The film is indeed very edgy and sometimes draws the viewer into the character’s innermost thoughts. The oddly humorous film starts off slow, but once it gets to you, there’s no turning back.

To be Cyrus
News Feed

Similar to Saif Ali Khan films, Irrfan Khan Blackmail also failed to achieve popularity. The premise of the movie is very intriguing and the performance is entertaining as promised. When Dev Kaushal, played by Irrfan Khan, a toilet paper salesman, arrives home early one day to surprise his wife, he is in for the shock of his life to catch her in bed with her lover. He considers many alternatives, some of which involve killing one or both, but ultimately decides to blackmail them. And a scheme like that is designed to stir up trouble, and when a blackmail loop is set, things go haywire.

Blackmail
IMDb

With the making of the film live peepli, another bold and brilliant cinema was born. Nathadas Manikpuri, who lives in a small village, is the protagonist of this satirical story which explores the plight of Indian farmers. Due to an overdue bank loan, he risks losing his only remaining piece of land. He is advised with contempt to commit suicide to benefit from the government plan which relieves the families of deceased farmers in debt. What happens next takes you into the political and media circus as well as the deep dungeons of poverty.

live peepli
India Media Group

Years after its premiere, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro gained the appreciation it deserved, and it’s possible that other contemporary black comedies will meet the same fate. But now is the time for Indian fans and creators to show a keen interest in this genre, which has a ton of room for exploration.

It is highly likely that films of this subgenre will broaden the horizons of Bollywood due to the rise of OTT platforms. Audiences are eager to witness the diversity, and on portable screens, films that have burst into theaters will find a clean slate.