No laughing matter: When comedians faced legal trouble for being funny
A police complaint has been filed against Vir Das for his comments in his 'I Come from two Indias' special
It seems that India has lost its funny bone.
Comedian Vir Das’ ‘Two Indias’ monologue delivered at the United States' Kennedy Centre has created quite a storm.
A police complaint has been filed against him for "belittling the country on foreign soil".
The complaint against Das joins a list of legal cases against comedians over issues such as hurting religious sentiments, defamation and obscenity.
Take a look at some of the prominent ones.
Let’s start with funny man Vir.
On Monday, Vir Das posted a video of his show at Washington's Kennedy Centre.
In his monologue, he talks of India in terms of its battle against COVID-19, rapes and on the farmers' protest. A short clip posted on Twitter generated much fire: "I come from an India where we worship women during the day and gang-rape them during the night."
The following day, Tuesday, he took to social media to issue a clarification, stating that his intention was to serve as a reminder that the country, despite its issues, was “great."
— Vir Das (@thevirdas) November 16, 2021
“The video is a satire about the duality of two very separate India’s that do different things. Like any nation has light and dark, good and evil within it. None of this is a secret. The video appeals for us to never forget that we are great. To never stop focusing on what makes us great.
“It ends in a gigantic patriotic round of applause for a country we all love, believe in, and are proud of. That there is more to our country than the headlines, a deep beauty. That’s the point of the video and the reason for the applause," his statement read.
However, his clarification wasn’t enough as a complaint has been filed with the Mumbai Police by high court lawyer Ashutosh Dubey.
Best known for his episode with Arnab Goswami in an airplane, Kamra was in hot water when he criticised the Supreme Court’s order granting bail to the Republic TV editor-in-chief in a 2018 abetment to suicide case.
Among his tweets, which prompted the apex court to issue a show cause notice, was "honour has left the building (Supreme Court) long back” and and “Supreme Court of the country is the most Supreme joke of the country”.
All lawyers with a spine must stop the use of the prefix “Hon’ble” while referring to the Supreme Court or its judges. Honour has left the building long back...
— Kunal Kamra (@kunalkamra88) November 11, 2020
Kamra then wrote a letter to Attorney General of India KK Venugopal, in which he stated, “My view hasn’t changed because the silence of the Supreme Court of India on matters of other’s personal liberty cannot go uncriticised. I don’t intend to retract my tweets or apologise for them.”
No lawyers, No apology, No fine, No waste of space 🙏🙏🙏 pic.twitter.com/B1U7dkVB1W
— Kunal Kamra (@kunalkamra88) November 13, 2020
The funny man from Gujarat was arrested for allegedly cracking a joke on Hindu deties and Union Home Minister Amit Shah during a show.
The complaint against him was filed by Eklavya Singh Gaur, who is the son of a BJP legislator Malini Laxman Singh Gaur. According to the complaint, the stand-up comedian made indecent remarks on the Hindu gods for a few laughs in his segment.
However, police later said that they didn’t find a video with Faruqui making such comments.
Initially, a part of the comedy collective All India Bakchod (AIB), Tanmay found himself in the dog house after he tweeted a meme of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a dog filter on Snapchat.
An FIR was registered against him under Section 500 (defamation) of the IPC and 67 of the IT Act (punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form) for the joke.
In July 2020, Agrima received rape threats and abuses and was threatened with legal action after a video of hers making jokes about Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the statue being built in his honour surfaced.
Joshua tendered an apology on Twitter and clarified that the video in question had already been taken down.
With inputs from agencies