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The paper-tigers of the Indian comedy circus: How mocking Hindus is a free hit but other faiths is a no-go

Comedians who fancy themselves as some sort of bohemian crusaders or revolutionaries often put forth meretricious arguments that it is their freedom of artistic creativity through which they come up with such jokes.

Earlier this month, the so-called comedian Munawar Faruqui, who has an inveterate habit of mocking Hindus and their beliefs, was arrested by the Indore police for passing indecent remarks on the Hindu Gods while performing a gig. 

A complaint was filed against the comedian after which the police arrested him, along with four others for hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus. According to the complaint, Faruqui had made inappropriate remarks against Hindu gods, the Godhra incident and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. 

A similar case was filed against him in Uttar Pradesh for allegedly making objectionable comments against Hindu deities and Uttar Pradesh police team had reached Indore yesterday to take the comedian to Allahabad. The move came days after Faruqui moved the Madhya Pradesh High Court seeking bail. 

This is not the first time that Munawar has been accused of mocking Hindu deities and Hinduism. During a show in April last year, Munawar Faruqui mocked the 2002 Godhra carnage where 58 Hindus returning from Ayodhya were burnt alive by a Muslim mob. In a part of the clip that had gone viral on social media, one can hear him refer to the carnage as a fictional film ‘directed’ by Amit Shah and ‘produced’ by RSS.

The Gujarat-based stand-up comedian has also made derogatory remarks on Lord Ram and Sita in April 2020 after which a police complaint was lodged against him with the Mumbai Police. Munawar’s history suggests that he is incorrigible in making unflattering jokes and comments on Hindu Gods. 

Mocking Hindus and their faith is par for the course for the Indian stand-up comedians

Well, Munawar is not the only ‘comedian’ who has felt no compunction in humiliating Hindus and hurting their sentiments by making crude and appalling jokes on their traditions and religions. Several other ‘comedians’ have unapologetically poked fun at Hindu cultural icons and Gods under the guise of ‘freedom of artistic creativity’. 

For a long time now, mocking Hindus, Hindu Gods and Goddesses and Hinduism has become a hallmark of the Indian stand-up comedy fraternity. Compensating their otherwise bland performances with subtle and sometimes outright jibes on Hindu deities and Hinduism is par for the course for these set of unfunny comedians. 

Be it the unfunny buffoons of the East India Comedy such as Sahil Shah, Azeem Banatwalla or the vile clowns of the ‘All India Bakchod’, or the perverse jokers of the ‘Aisi Taisi Democracy’, they have shown no restraints in mocking the religion of the majority and insulting the historical figures revered by them. 

Cracking jokes at faiths other than Hinduism is a forbidden act

However, this is not the case with the Abrahamic faiths. The ‘comedians’ have regarded Hinduism and the pantheon of its Gods and Goddesses as fair game for their insulting jokes. But, the same indignity is not meted out to Christianity and Islam. The comedians have patently abstained from mocking the Abrahamic faiths. 

Even on rare occasions when the ‘comedians’ dared to mock the Abrahamic faiths, a grovelling apology followed almost immediately. The All India Bakchod, one of the pioneers of the Indian stand-up comedy, proffered an obsequious apology to the Catholic Church for jokes it made during its 20 December 2015 “roast” of Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh. 

In a note uploaded on Facebook, the group described its meeting with the meeting with Bishop Agnelo Gracias, the Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay, where the members accepted they had offended the religious sentiments of the Christians and that while they were free to make these jokes, the community, in turn, had the right to be offended by their remarks. 

Propagandist masquerading as comedian Kunal Kamra had to deactivate his Twitter account temporarily when netizens dredged up his old tweets in which he was seen mocking Muslims. According to the reports, Kamra tried to purge his offensive tweets but by then netizens had already taken screenshots of them. Only after the outrage died down, did Kamra restore his account and resume peddling filth yet again, but this time around, he remained cautious of not hurting the Muslim sentiments. 

More recently, ‘comedian’ Agrima Joshua had tendered a crawling apology for her disparaging remarks on the Shivaji Memorial in the Arabian sea. However, the apology was not directed at the people who were hurt by her remarks but to the political parties ruling Maharashtra, perhaps to mollify them and prevent them from taking any coercive action against her. 

In the video clip that had gone viral then, the comic could be heard mocking the Shiv Smarak, the memorial dedicated to the legendary Hindu monarch Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Her video sparked a massive furore, with people criticising her for insulting the Maratha icon. Joshua promptly issued a video apology to Congress, Shiv Sena and NCP, but pinned the blame on the BJP for setting off legions of trolls against her.

Woke activism of comedians dries up when it comes to mocking Abrahamic faiths

Comedians who fancy themselves as some sort of bohemian crusaders or revolutionaries often put forth meretricious arguments that it is their freedom of artistic creativity through which they come up with such jokes. At times, these comedians brand Hindus as intolerant and hateful for taking offence on jokes that are veritably bad and provocative. 

On several other occasions, ‘comedians’ try to undermine Hindus and Hinduism by linking their outrage to a political party, which is always the BJP, because it is the only party that is perceived to protect the Hindu interests. By linking it to politics, they attempt to discredit the backlash on their anti-Hindu jokes and deflect the blame on the victims. They also cite woke slogans of ‘speaking truth to power’, ‘fascism’, ‘bigotry’ and several others to justify their acts while painting the victims as oppressors. 

But when it comes to mocking Abrahamic faiths such as Christianity and Islam, all the woke activism of these so-called comedians dries up. On the contrary, the same comedians, who unabashedly mock and insult Hindu Gods and Hinduism, not only steer clear of making fun of Islam and Christianity but also have the gall of sermonising others on not hurting the sensitivity of minorities. 

In the Indian stand-up comedy fraternity, it is kosher and acceptable to continue mocking and insulting Hindus, their beliefs and their Gods but cracking jokes on Islam and Christianity is a strictly forbidden zone, one wherein there is no “artistic freedom” or “individual rights”.

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Jinit Jain
Engineer. Writer. Learner.

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