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Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Vir Das to Tanmay Bhatt: Comedians who got into trouble over their standup acts

Comedians like Kunal Kamra, Munawaru Faruqui, Tanmay Bhat and Agrima Joshua have all landed in legal trouble for cracking jokes

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: November 17, 2021 5:20:53 pm
(From L to R) Comedians Vir Das, Munawar Faruqui, Kunal Kamra and Tanmay Bhat (File Photo)

Vir Das’ act, ‘I Come From Two Indias’ has landed the comedian in trouble, with two complaints – in Delhi and Mumbai – lodged against him.

The comedian’s performance at the John F Kennedy Center in Washington DC prompted a Mumbai-based lawyer to accuse him of defaming India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the United States of America. In Delhi, BJP member Aditya Jha stated, “He (Das) says in the video… ‘In India, we worship women in the day and rape them at night’. These derogatory statements against women and India are inflammatory. They were made in the US and malign the image of our country internationally. I want police to conduct an investigation.”

The Delhi and Mumbai police have, however, stated that no FIR has been filed in the respective cases. Das, meanwhile, released a statement, saying: “The video is a satire about the duality of two very separate Indias that do different things. Like any nation has light and dark, good and evil within it. None of this is a secret…”

However, Das isn’t the first stand-up comedian to end up in such a soup. Here’s a look at cases filed against some of his fellow comics:

Munawar Faruqui

On January 1, Faruqui was arrested in Indore following a complaint by Aklavya Laxman Singh Gaur of the Hind Rakshak outfit alleging that indecent remarks were made during his show about Hindu deities. Aklavya is the son of MLA and former Indore mayor Malini Laxman Singh Gaur.

Town Inspector of Tukaganj Police Station Kamlesh Sharma had told had The Indian Express they have no evidence against Faruqui directly and that he has been booked as an organiser. “There’s no evidence against him for insulting Hindu deities or Union Minister Amit Shah,” he said. He had said the two videos submitted by the complainant are of another comedian with him allegedly cracking jokes on Lord Ganesh.

Comedian Munawar Faruqui

Faruqui was granted bail by the Supreme Court in February after his plea was rejected by the Madhya Pradesh High Court and the sessions court. During the High Court hearing, Justice Rohit Arya said, “Such people must not be spared,” after a lawyer alleged that Faruqui made other objectionable statements against Lord Ram and Sita.

Recently, the Bajrang Dal forced the cancellation of two comic shows in Mumbai as Faruqui was to be a part of it.

Kunal Kamra

The Supreme Court of India had initiated contempt of court proceedings against the popular comedian over his tweets against judges and judiciary in November last year.

After receiving multiple letters of request, Attorney General K K Venugopal had granted consent for initiation of criminal contempt proceedings against Kamra, saying the comedian’s tweets were in “bad taste” and it was time that people understand that attacking the apex court brazenly would attract punishment.

Comedian Kunal Kamra

Kamra, however, had told the court in response that “tweets were not published with intention of diminishing people’s faith in the highest court of our democracy” and that “the suggestion that my tweets could shake the foundations of the most powerful court in the world is an over-estimation of my abilities”.

The affidavit filed by the comedian largely sought to colour his tweets as “jokes” and said “I believe there need be no defence for jokes”.

Agrima Joshua

Then Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had instructed the Mumbai police in July last year to take legal action against the stand-up comedian, on allegations of insulting Chhatrapati Shivaraj Maharaj

Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik had demanded “strict” action against her after an old video of Joshua surfaced online. The video is part of a sketch Joshua had performed in April 2019 at a comedy and music cafe in Khar (West). In the video, which Joshua has since deleted but is still available on various social media platforms, she jokes about speculation over the state government’s plans to build a statue of the Maratha King in the Arabian Sea.

After facing abuse online, Joshua also issued an apology on Twitter. “I am sorry for having hurt the sentiments of the many followers of the great leader Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. My heartfelt apologies to followers of the great leader, who I sincerely respect. The video has already been taken down. Please amplify.”

Tanmay Bhat

In May 2016, Mumbai police had asked Facebook and YouTube to block stand-up comedian Bhat’s video of a mock conversation with Lata Mangeshkar and Sachin Tendulkar that sparked a massive outrage with the Shiv Sena, BJP and MNS demanding action against him and AIB.

The AIB group has now disbanded.

Titled “Sachin v/s Lata Civil War”, Bhat, superimposed faces of Tendulkar and Mangeshkar to enact an argument on whether Virat Kohli is better than the Master Blaster.

In 2015, the comedian had landed in trouble after the infamous AIB Knockout, the roast of actors Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor hosted by Karan Johar. An FIR was filed against all those involved for allegedly using obscene and abusive language. The video also pulled down from YouTube.

Kiku Sharda

Kiku Sharda, a popular comedian who features on comedian Kapil Sharma’s show, was arrested in 2016 for hurting the sentiments of the followers of Dera Sacha Sauda leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

The complainant in the FIR had alleged that Sharda, while acting in a TV show, Jashn-e-Umeed, which aired on December 27 that year, mimicked the Dera chief and made fun of a scene from his movie, MSG-2.

Kapil Sharma

In September this year, an FIR was filed against The Kapil Sharma Show over an episode in which the show’s cast was shown to be drinking alcohol while performing a courtroom scene. The complainant has accused the comedy show’s producers of disrespecting the court.

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