The latest episode of Netflix’s Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj doesn’t seem to have struck a chord with Indians in India. While many may debate the American-Born Confused Desi’s (ABCD) political inclinations, Hasan takes digs at both major political parties — BJP and Congress.
Hasan begins the episode by acknowledging his roots and confesses that while being an Indian makes him likeable to people, it is the ‘Muslim part’ that causes people to raise eyebrows. In a montage, other desi Americans are seen discouraging him from talking about the upcoming elections. “You’re going to make millions of people angry”, “You’re a Pakistani agent”… “Talk about cricket, sneakers….” he is told.
In the 30-minute episode, made primarily for an American audience, he tries to touch upon the Kashmir issue, the recent Pulwama attack and the strikes that followed, demonetisation, unemployment and cow lynchings, among other topics. He even brings up the 2002 Gujarat riots while talking about Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and comparing him to US President Donald Trump.
Thirty minutes isn’t even enough time for one to give a crash course on Indian elections but Minhaj tries to bring everyone up to speed as to what is happening in the largest democracy in the world. We can’t say he completely succeeds on the information bit, but his jokes do land on point. Most of them at least.
While criticism of the ruling party abounds, Hasan Minhaj does little to criticise the Opposition. He recounts the 2G scam that unfolded during Manmohan Singh’s government. The episode also includes a short interview with Shashi Tharoor as, Minhaj says, nobody from the ruling party agreed to be interviewed. Minhaj claims most politicians are linked to some form of crime — either corruption or murder.
While Hasan Minhaj does try to piece together the big puzzle of Indian elections, one episode is rather insufficient to summarise the political ongoings in India. John Oliver tried it back in 2014 and while both episodes rank high on humour, you shouldn’t depend on them completely to get an overall sense of what’s happening in India.
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