Stand-up comedian Vir Das' act, 'I Come From Two Indias,' has landed the comedian in hot water. There have been two complaints filed against him. While one has been done in Delhi, the other one is in Mumbai.
Following his performance at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, the stand-up comic was accused by a Mumbai-based lawyer of defaming India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the United States of America. BJP member Aditya Jha, in Delhi, 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.”
It has been reported that neither the Delhi nor the Mumbai police has had any FIRs filed in the respective cases. In a statement, Das has reverted to the complaints and the social media outrage by 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…(sic).”
Das, however, is not the first stand-up comedian to find himself in such a predicament. Here are some of the lawsuits filed against some of the others in the same profession as well. Have a look:
An FIR was filed against The Kapil Sharma Show in September of this year after an episode in which the show's cast was shown drinking alcohol while performing a courtroom scene. The complainant has accused the producers of the comedy show of disrespecting the court.
Kiku Sharda, a popular comedian who appears on comedian Kapil Sharma's show, was arrested in 2016 for hurting the feelings of Dera Sacha Sauda leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh's followers. The complainant in the FIR claimed that Sharda imitated the Dera chief and made fun of a scene from his movie, ‘MSG-2’, while acting in a TV show, ‘Jashn-e-Umeed’, which aired on December 27, that year.
In May 2016, Mumbai police requested that stand-up comedian Tanmay Bhat's video of a mock conversation between Lata Mangeshkar and Sachin Tendulkar be removed from Facebook and YouTube after it sparked a massive outrage, with the Shiv Sena, BJP, and MNS demanding action against him and AIB. Bhat's video, titled ‘Sachin v/s Lata Civil War’ uses superimposed images of Tendulkar and Mangeshkar to debate whether Virat Kohli is better than the Master Blaster. In 2015, the comedian was embroiled in controversy following the infamous AIB Knockout, Karan Johar's roast of actors Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor. All those involved were charged with using obscene and abusive language, according to the FIR. The video was also taken down from social media.
In July of last year, the then-Home Minister Anil Deshmukh directed the Mumbai police to take legal action against the stand-up comedian on allegations of insulting Chhatrapati Shivaraj Maharaj. After an old video of Joshua surfaced online, Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik demanded "strict" action against her. The video is an excerpt from a sketch Joshua performed in April 2019 at a comedy and music cafe in Khar (West). She jokes about the state government's plans to build a statue of the Maratha King in the Arabian Sea in the video, which Joshua has since deleted but is still available on various social media platforms. Joshua also issued an apology on Twitter which read as, “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 (sic).”
In November of last year, the Supreme Court of India instituted contempt of court proceedings against the popular comedian for tweets critical of judges and the judiciary. After receiving multiple letters of request, Attorney General KK Venugopal granted consent for the initiation of criminal contempt proceedings against Kamra, stating that the comedian's tweets were in bad taste and that it was past time for people to understand that brazenly attacking the Supreme Court would result in punishment. Kamra, however, had told the court in his response that the “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”. There was also an affidavit that was filed by the comedian, which largely sought to colour his tweets as jokes and it read, “I believe there need be no defence for jokes.”
Faruqui was arrested in Indore on January 1st, following a complaint filed by Aklavya Laxman Singh Gaur of the Hind Rakshak outfit alleging that indecent remarks about Hindu deities were made during his show. Aklavya Gaur is the son of former Indore mayor and MLA Malini Laxman Singh Gaur. The Tukaganj Police Station's Town Inspector, Kamlesh Sharma, told The Indian Express that there is no direct evidence against Faruqui 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 had said. He had said the two videos submitted by the complainant are of another comedian with him allegedly cracking jokes on Lord Ganesh. Faruqui was granted bail by the Supreme Court in February after his pleas were denied 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. The Bajrang Dal recently forced the cancellation of two comic shows in Mumbai because Faruqui was scheduled to appear.