A show by comedian Jeeveshu Ahluwalia in the city was cancelled on Tuesday in the light of accusations of sexual misconduct and “date rape” against him that surfaced on Twitter as part of the ongoing #MeToo campaign. The show, Host to Roast, was scheduled to take place at 8 pm at Farzi Café in Sector 26. Organised by PunchLiners, tickets for the show were available on BookMyShow and Insider.
Ahluwalia is among the several personalities from the creative field who have been named on social media for alleged sexual harassment of women. The details of the incidents involving Ahluwalia were shared anonymously on Twitter. On October 7, his talent agency, Big Bad Wolf, decided to “part ways” with him and issued a statement, “In the light of allegations of misconduct, Jeeveshu Ahluwalia and Big Bad Wolf Entertainment (P) Ltd have mutually decided to part ways leaving him time to introspect and address issues.” (sic)
Soon after, social media users started inquiring whether his 10-city tour would also be cancelled. Ahluwalia has already performed in Ludhiana on October 3. Tweets and Facebook comments poured in with people asking the organisers to respond. Chandigarh resident Sumeet Gill, who had purchased tickets for the show, had tweeted in support of the MeToo campaign on Monday stating that he wanted to “boycott” the show and demanded a refund from Insider.in. “Since I am no longer interested in watching a person who indulges in #sexualharassment, I want a refund #BoycottPredatorMen #MeToo.” (sic)
Gill had even tagged Ahluwalia in his tweet. He said he got a notification that the refund was on its way in five to six days but the show had not been cancelled even till late Monday. However, on Tuesday, PunchLiners put out a statement, calling off the show. “We feel really disheartened to inform you guys that due to this unforeseen circumstance which have just come to us with the artiste Jeeveshu Ahluwalia, we have to cancel the event and all the refunds will be processed shortly from the ticketing platforms.” (sic)
Gill said he was relieved that the show had been cancelled. “To me, nothing is above a woman’s dignity. #Metoo is a movement every man of some sanity should ponder over and make the society a safer place for women.” Arjun Anand, founder of PunchLiners, told Chandigarh Newsline that the communication to the ticketing platforms was only processed on Tuesday morning. “We knew about the allegations as the manager of Big Bad Wolf informed us that they had decided to stop working with Jeeveshu. We cancelled immediately and even took numerous queries from people on the event. We sent out our emails to BookMyShow and Insider.in who must have notified the buyers in the morning.” He added that all his shows in other cities have also been cancelled and the losses would be borne by them as organisers.
The tickets will be refunded by the ticketing platforms shortly. Anand also drew flak on Facebook for replying to Jeeveshu’s public apology with people saying he came across as “sympathising” with the comedian. “I have known Jeeveshu a long time and it’s really unfortunate. But we have reached out to people through messages and tweets and tried our best to relay to our audience that we do not support Jeeveshu and the show has been cancelled,” he further stated.
As for the venue partners, Farzi Café, this is the first time they were organising such a show. It was an event solely by PunchLiners. “We were only venue partners. We got a call from the organisers informing us about the allegations and mutually decided to cancel the show immediately. We have taken this decision to uphold our no-tolerance policy against any person that compromises women’s safety,” said the management of Farzi Café.
Ahluwalia has responded to the allegations on Twitter, apologising for his behaviour. However, he has also issued the following statement on Facebook, “In the past three days, some shockingly false and sensational allegations have been made against me. While I issued a well-meaning apology, I think it is absolutely essential to emphasise that the allegations of lewd talk or comments allegedly made by me during an interview or the allegations of “date-rape” are absolutely untrue and false.” (sic)
The comedian added that he was “incapable of committing such disrespectful actions” and was a thorough professional. “I do not know the reason or motivation behind these allegations but I can certainly underline and emphasise that there is no truth in them,” (sic) Ahluwalia further stated.