October 10, 2016


Review: 'Better Life Foundation' : A mockumentary about a struggling NGO makes smart observations about class and the patronizing attitude well-meaning privileged folks have towards the underprivileged (Dustin Silgardo, 10/10/16, Live Mint)

Ten minutes into the show, though, your focus shifts from the similarities Better Life Foundation may have to other hit shows to how it is different from the majority of Indian comedies. Indian comedians and shows tend to deal with the obvious. Jokes about how superficial big Indian weddings are or how bad the traffic in Mumbai is may gain a few laughs, but don't make us think enough to be memorable. The Better Life Foundation, which follows Neil and his NGO's struggles, is far more insightful, making observations about class, language barriers and attitudes towards the disabled, among other things, while also allowing its characters to grow and show vulnerability, so they are not mere stereotypes--all too common in Indian comedy.

Better Life Foundation is an NGO that Neil (played by Naveen Richard) starts with money he inherited from his uncle. The show pokes fun at how when the privileged, in their attempt to be progressive, try to help the underprivileged, they are often patronizing. In one scene, Neil, a Bangalorean, tries explaining in hilarious broken Hindi the concept of a health faucet to the head of the Dharavi Foundation, but the man, of course, knows the English term for it already. In another, Neil talks about how his NGO asks "normal" people to run a blindfolded marathon to raise funds for the visually impaired. [...]

Good comedy throws up observations about problems that, until mentioned by the comedian, you thought only you faced. In Better Life Foundation, one running theme is Neil's inability to replicate his own signature. It's nice to know one's not alone in feeling nervous every time a cheque or documents need to be signed. It is those kinds of observations that make Better Life Foundation one of the most interesting comedy shows to come out of India in the past few years.

As if it weren't enough to make fun of do-gooders, government and the like, they even toss in a net-neutrality scare.

Besides the conservatism what does stand out is that you see the same show in every nation in the Anglosphere/Scandinavia.

Posted by at October 10, 2016 6:16 PM