Days after comedian Shyam Rangeela alleged that Star Plus refused to air his act on Akshay Kumar-starrer Great Laughter Challenge, which involved Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mimicry, ace comedian-BJP member Raju Srivastava has slammed the television channel, saying that the PM actually enjoys his imitation.
Earlier this week, Rangeela said in an interview that the GEC (General Entertainment Channel) decided to scrap his act, which also included an imitation of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and was shot more than a month ago, and asked him to re-record it. The comedian alleged that the channel “feared” that his act might offend people and they would protest against Star Plus.
Following Rangeela’s allegation, many comedians and artistses have slammed the channel. Joining these voices is Srivastava, who rose to fame after competing on the same show’s first season, titled The Great Indian Laughter Challenge, which aired in 2005.
“I want to send this message to the channel that Modi ji himself enjoys his mimicry. He told me, ‘If you wish to, you should mimic me, just take care that the crowd should be entertained.’ He believes mimicry is an art. Modi jiin fact, said that there should not be in any discrimination, that powerful people are not poked fun at, and only rest of the sections are the subject of one’s humour,” Srivastava told indianexpresa.com.
The actor, also one of the most successful stand-up comedians in the country, said that he has done imitations of a lot of politicians, in front of them, in his career and he never faced any reaistance from them. “Politicians enjoy these acts. Akhilesh Yadav (former Uttar Pradesh chief minister), in fact, asks me to mimic his father, Mulayam Yadav) and similarly LK Advani’s daughter requests me to imitate her father. So, this is sad that a channel is fearing any protest. They should not care about any pressure.”
Interestingly, Srivastava pointed out that mimicry has been a part of speeches and even election campaigns of such prolific politicians, used as a tool to attack their opponents and increase their mass appeal. “If you have listened to Raj Thackarey’s speeches, a lot of times he has mimicked Lalu Prasad Yadav, Bal Thackarey used to imitate Indira Gandhi. So, this has been there. Art should not be controlled or stopped.”
Celebrities like Vir Das, Sanjay Mishra and Piyush Mishra earlier expressed their opinion on the row.
“I honestly.dont think our leaders care if we tell absurd jokes about them. They’re just thankful we’re not telling the truth about them. Now what they really don’t like is when the joke tells the truth. And when I say they, I don’t mean the leaders, I mean their sycophants. That chamcha, businessman, goon who is two degrees of separation away from power and still thinks he has it,” Das posted on his Facebook page.
“What they don’t understand is that the comedian isn’t telling the truth. The audience that’s laughing is. That’s the real revelation. If you do stupid shit, people will laugh….with or without a comedian,” he added.
The original video of Rangeela’s act, which has got leaked after the controversy broke out, shows that he got a standing ovation from the judges, including Akshay.
Extending his support for Rangeela, Sanjay Mishra told PTI, “Yesterday, I was told about Shyam Rangeela. I haven’t seen it nor do I know what happened. But you mimic a person who has influenced you. Nobody (in India) would mimic a person from Nigeria. We should not be told what to do. We are being told since our childhood about things that we should do and should not do.”
Piyush Mishra had said, “The problem is that we have to impose restrictions. In our country the moral science is weak. But these problems should be dealt by us. Why should it come from the government?”