In recent years, the biggest challenge to India’s budding stand-up network has been India’s lack of sense of humor and heightened propensity to take offense.
Here’s a look at all the comedians whose jokes (and the country’s rising wave of intolerance) landed them in trouble:
1. Munawar Faruqi
In a clear misuse of power, a group of people had Munawar Faruqui arrested in the middle of his show in Indore, alleging that his jokes insulted Hindu deities and MHA Amit Shah. However, as per an audience member, Faruqui had not even begun his set when he was arrested.
Later, the Indore police stated that there was no evidence, video or otherwise, of Munawar Faruqui hurting the sentiments of any religion. He was granted bail after a month. He was arrested along with three other people.
2. Agrima Joshua
One of Agrima Joshua’s stand-up set included a joke on the upcoming statue of Chattrapati Shivaji. Her joke did not go down well with the Shiv Sena and many Mumbaikars. Though Agrima apologized and took down the video, she was massively trolled and abused online. Moreover, a party MLA threatened to file an FIR against her, and Instagram user and YouTuber Shubham Mishra publically issued her a rape threat.
The entire Indian comedian fraternity came out in her support, calling out Mishra’s behavior.
3. Kunal Kamra
Kunal Kamra is certainly no stranger to trolling and getting complaints and threats because of his content. And, his tweets on the Supreme Court of India resulted in an FIR being filed against him for contempt of court.
4. Vir Das
Vir Das performed a poetic piece, ‘Two Indias’, at The Kennedy Centre, in the USA, during his Manic Man tour. Snippets of the poem surfaced online, following which he faced severe trolling on social media. Soon after, a police complaint was also filed against him.
Earlier, Vir Das’ Netflix show Hasmukh also landed in trouble when a lawyer filed a lawsuit asking for a permanent injunction on the show for allegedly maligning the image of lawyers. However, the Delhi Court ruled in Das’ favour, refusing to grant an interim stay on the show.
Though the comedy group has disbanded now, AIB was credited with ushering in a new age of comedy sketches and content in India.
However, when the video of the AIB Knockout (a celebrity roast event) surfaced, it led to an FIR being filed against comedians Tanmay Bhatt, Gursimran Khamba, Rohan Joshi, and Ashish Shakya for “objectionable content.”
The FIR also included 10 other people, like the show’s host director-producer Karan Johar, the participants, actors Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor, and several other guests and audience members. A total of 5 PILs were filed against AIB for the AIB Knockout.
6. Tanmay Bhatt
Comedian Tanmay Bhatt managed to offend an entire nation when he posted a series of videos on Snapchat using the face-swap filter to impersonate singer Lata Mangeshkar and cricketer Sachin Tendulkar.
Many celebrities called out Tanmay for his video on social media, while members of certain political parties issued him threats of physical harm on national TV. NCB even held a protest against him. Consequently, Bhat apologized for hurting people’s sentiments and took down the video.
Another FIR was also filed against Bhat after AIB posted a meme on their Instagram page in which Snapchat’s dog filter was used on PM Modi’s face.
7. Surleen Kaur
ISKON filed a complaint against comedian Surleen Kaur for using ‘derogatory remarks’ for ISKON, rishis, and Hindus in her stand-up set titled Kamasutra Sahi Hai. The complaint also named entertainment company Shemaroo. Shemaroo apologized and took down the video from official platforms.
No country for comedy?