Comedy, censored


South Park finally arrives in India, with a few nips and tucks

Irreverant, dark and very, very funny - that's how one can describe South Park, the animated satire that has sparked quite a bit of controversy since it first started airing in 1997. The show which has had a successful run of 12 seasons (and counting) in the US, has finally reached Indian shores courtesy VH1, which will air the very first episode on May 11.

Sent in the fictitious American town of the same name, the show revolves around the adventures of four boys - Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman and Kenny McCormick; however it is more noted for its unrestrained use of expletives and ability to poke fun at anything from the presidential elections to religion to global warming.

"We'd been toying with the idea of getting the show to India since VH1 first started," says Ferzad Palia, VH1 India associate GM, "but we didn't feel that Indian audiences were ready for a show like this at that time. Now, however, I feel that viewers can handle the kind of humour that the show offers and that they're craving for something different."

He couldn't be more right. Ad executive Rishiraj Verma says he's only watched a few episodes of the show on the Internet but they were a good enough teaser and now he's very excited South Park has finally come to India. He says, "More than just being extremely witty and funny, the show has strong undercurrents in terms of social commentary. There's this whole new trend there, if I may call it that, of social awareness - political, environmental, everything."

India is known for being heavy-handed with censorship; so considering that the show takes pride in not just poking fun at religious figures like Jesus Christ but also in its use of profanities, will it pass unscathed in India? "Practically every other word on the show is an obscenity so I don't see how they can bleep out the words and make the show work. In fact, there's one episode called It Hits the Fan, where one particular profanity is used all the time and they have a counter running to show how many times it's used on the show. Censoring episodes like that is going to be quite a task," says Shailesh Prabhu, another fan of the show.

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