A year back if someone talked about the stars in the digital sky, AIB was clearly the 'Sirius.' From making it into Forbes' 100 in 2015 to Star India's Uday Shankar mentioning them in his introductory speech at the Ficci-Frames and their winning the 'Content Creator of the year' at 'Vdonxt Asia' 2017, the comedy collective looked like a mushrooming behemoth. October 2018, one of AIB's team, Utsav Chakraborty, was accused of harassment; #metoo was stamped on the organisation and skeletons began to pop out of their closets one after the other. Tanmay Bhatt and Gursimran Khamba were also accused, landing the entire organisation in a spot of bother.
AIB - All India Backchod - started by Tanmay Bhat, Ashish Shakya, Rohan Joshi, and Gursimran Khamba is a digital media organisation known for its podcasts, controversial roasts, and stand up performances. It had bagged a multi-crore deal to produce 'Gromint' a political comedy for Amazon Prime Video.
It looks like it has lost it all. The comedy collective updated a statement on Social Media stating that it has lost all it had - the cash, the associations etc. resulting in the 'business going to zero'.
"After the events of early October, things moved fast. Almost all of our partners hit 'freeze' on future associations, while others pulled out of active projects, effective immediately. All of this hit revenue hard" reads the letter.
"We always prided ourselves on being a hundred per cent independent, creator-owned company. We've been free to choose our own destiny and set our own content standards as a result of this independence. However, the flipside to this is that with business going to zero, the lack of revenue inflow made it impossible for us, as owners, to sustain outgoing costs," the letter went on to say.
AIB stated that with no incoming revenue and operational costs piling up, it had to make some "Hard, and unfortunately, permanent decisions." The letter also states, "We had to let our office space and the entire team go overnight. Production, creative, admin, all of it. This was particularly hard not just because making people laugh with us is a ton of fun, but because we had to say goodbye to some of the finest minds in the field; people we'd built dreams with for many years."
The two million subscribers to the channel on YouTube channel were also hit by disappointing news as the letter continued with, "The AIB YouTube channel is, for all intents and purposes, dead for the foreseeable future - there will be no new sketches anytime soon. It sucks, but it is what it is. If and when we decide to release other content on the channel (for e.g. stand-up clips), you will be the first to know."
The letter addresses the accusations of sexual harassment too, "We'd also like to state that we at AIB have had an IC and anti-harassment system in place from the start. However, we recognise that the culture at work may not have been perfect and simply put, we need to be better. To that end, we maintain that Tanmay Bhat's lapse of judgment regarding Utsav Chakraborty was egregious. As a result, even though Tanmay Bhat's suspension has been lifted, he will no longer hold the position of CEO."
With regards to Gursimran Khamba, AIB's letter stated that an External Committee (EC) was appointed to look into the allegations made against him in October. The EC comprised of two experienced senior members - a senior partner at a law firm and a diversity consultant - and its mandate was to conduct a fair investigation into the matter.
"During the course of the investigation, we were informed that Gursimran Khamba had stepped away from the process, citing issues with the procedure. The EC was unable to conclude the investigation on account of his withdrawal. Given these circumstances, Gursimran Khamba will no longer be involved in operations at AIB and will be working independent of us," states the letter.
Rohan Joshi and Ashish Shakya will continue to manage the remaining affairs at AIB, but will also be pursuing solo interests in the coming future.
"While we may not have a complete roadmap yet, we are sure of one thing going forward - we never want to stop entertaining. Making people laugh has been the great privilege of our lives and we hope to be able to keep doing that in whatever new form the future holds for us. So, once again, thank you for letting us into your world. It has been an honour," concludes the letter.
For feedback/comments, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org