Munawar Faruqui: Faruqui was taken off the stage as he was performing his act. A video that he had circulated online had allegedly offended the sentiments of the Hindu religion. In a video that went viral since Faruqui is seen trying to make peace with a man who comes up on the stage to stop his show.
Faruqui was later arrested and has only recently been released from Indore Jail on an order of the Supreme Court which granted him interim bail. Faruqio asserted that he has “full faith in the judiciary”.
Kunal Kamra: The Supreme Court of India issued a show-cause notice to Kunal Karma on the accusation that his tweets had scandalised the highest level of judiciary in India. The tweets under question include a picture of the Supreme Court wrapped in a saffron flag, tweets attacking the lawyers of the Supreme Court.
In a strong reply to the initiation of court proceedings against him, Kamra stated that his jokes should be taken as such, and says he’s “happy to take advice on comedy from the petitioners but that requires that they have a sense of humour first.”
The debate has again shifted back to the question – how diverse is the scope of contempt against the court. Is it wise to pull up comedians on allegations of attacking the court when the SC has cases pending that demand more attention?
Vir Das: 2020 has been a difficult year for this actor turned stand up comedian. He was served 13 legal notices last year alone. Das famously commented that “freedom of speech definitely exists, it just ain’t free.” Hasmukh, the latest web series of Das was allowed to release only after a High Court dismissed a plea seeking an interim stay on the streaming of web series on the allegations that it makes offensive comments to lawyers.
Vir Das is an internationally acclaimed comedian known for his intelligent wit and humour and ability to carve it all into jokes that force us to think about the social and political scenario.
Vipasha Malhotra: The comedy space has always come complementary to online trolling put into the equation a patriarchal society and a woman comedian and the situation goes worse. Malhotra received rape and death threats after she put out a parody video on the ban of TikTok.
Sexual and racist slurs were used to attack the comedian and pages with thousands of followers joined the carnage. However, the star that she is, she refused to let this bug her down and instead called out those trolling her and even put up a link on her bio encouraging her supporters to report the pages attempting to bully her.
Agrima Joshua: The comedian was made to apologise for her joke on the statue of Shivaji made a year ago. And this time, it was the Home Minister of Maharashtra, Anil Deshmukh, who took upon himself the onus of ‘saving his culture’. The cafe where Joshua had performed her piece was mobbed by angry social media activists.
All these incidents have one thing in common – the entitlement the society has come to develop. If a joke is all it takes to shake the foundation of beliefs in your religion, and institutions, it’ going to be a tough road ahead of you. Jokes are subjective and it goes right there in the meaning of the term that a joke is meant to be taken as entertainment.
A joke may make you laugh and while at the same time make me find no humour at all. And both of us are allowed to form opinions on it. But what is not okay is to demand to shut down the comedian who made a joke by putting him behind bars.
Our faith, our beliefs cannot be so vulnerable as to get offended by the opinion of a certain individual. To quote Kamra, “The suggestion that my tweets could shake the foundations of the most powerful court in the world is an overestimation of my abilities.”