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No laughing matter — all the comedians who got into trouble for trying to be funny

Comedian Munawar Faruqui has been denied bail in a case over objectionable remarks on Hindu gods and goddesses. Here’s a look at cases against other comedians.

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New Delhi: Comedian Munawar Faruqui was denied bail by a sessions court in Indore Tuesday. The court observed that Faruqui and the show’s organiser, Nalin Yadav, had been accused of making objectionable remarks on Hindu gods and goddesses and giving them bail would create a law and order situation.

Faruqui and five others were booked on 1 January based on a complaint by Eklavya Gaud, son of BJP MLA from Indore, Malini Gaud. 

The application by the Tukoganj police station in Indore read: “During the show, inappropriate language had been used while referring to religion, society and culture. While comments were also made about the present Home Minister Amit Shah and Godhra carnage which might create social unrest.”

Faruqui’s is only the latest in a long list of legal cases against comedians over issues such as hurting religious sentiments, defamation and obscenity, among other charges, over the last few years. Here’s a look at some of the prominent cases. 

Cases against comedians 

Kunal Kamra: In December 2020, the Supreme Court issued a show cause notice to comedian Kunal Kamra on pleas seeking initiation of contempt of court proceedings against him. The apex court received many petitions against the comedian after he criticised the Supreme Court’s order granting bail to Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami in a 2018 abetment to suicide case. 

Attorney General K.K. Venugopal highlighted some of Kamra’s tweets in his letter to the court to initiate contempt proceedings.

Among them were tweets in which Kamra said “honour has left the building (Supreme Court) long back” and “Supreme Court of the country is the most Supreme joke of the country”. He also posted a picture of the SC building painted saffron, with the flag of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in the foreground. 

In its 18 December order, the top court had asked Kamra to file his reply within six weeks.

Also read: Yashraj Mukhate to Butter Khatri — these 5 pandemic discoveries helped us survive 2020

Agrima Joshua: In July 2020, comedian Agrima Joshua was at the receiving end of rape threats and abuses, and was threatened with legal action after a 2019 video of hers making jokes about the Maharashtra government’s Shivaji statue project in the Arabian Sea went viral on social media.

Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said he had instructed the state police to take legal action against the comedian. He tweeted, “I have instructed CP [Commissioner of Police] Mumbai and IG [Inspector General] Cyber to take legal action expeditiously.”

Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik also said he had written to Deshmukh demanding Joshua’s arrest.

Joshua tendered an apology on Twitter and clarified that the video in question had already been taken down.

Tanmay Bhat: In July 2017, comedian Tanmay Bhat was booked and 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) after he tweeted a meme of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a dog filter on Snapchat. The case was taken up by the Cyber Cell of the Mumbai Police.

A year before that, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) had filed an FIR against Bhat for a video he posted on multimedia messaging app Snapchat where he seemingly mocked singer Lata Mangeshkar and cricketer Sachin Tendulkar. Bhat shared the video on his Facebook page titled ‘Sachin vs Lata Civil War’. 

Mumbai Police’s Special Branch had placed a request with tech giants Google and YouTube urging them to delete the video.

Kapil Sharma: In September 2016, popular comedian Kapil Sharma tweeted that some Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials asked him to pay bribe to let him construct his office space in Mumbai. He sent out a tweet to Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying, “Ye hain aapke acche din?”

Many said his tweet was politically motivated, and the matter escalated when the MNS threatened to “shut down” Sharma’s show unless he apologised.

The comedian was booked under various sections of the Environment Act by the Versova police in Mumbai for allegedly dumping debris near mangroves behind his bungalow. It was also alleged that Sharma undertook illegal construction near the mangroves. 

Later, the Bombay High Court stayed the FIR against Sharma in the illegal construction case as the BMC decided to withdraw all litigation against him in the lower court.

Also read: Practice laughing even when alone — it helps your mind and body

Kiku Sharda: Earlier that year, in January 2016, comedian Kiku Sharda, a regular on TV show Comedy Nights with Kapil, was sent to 14 days’ judicial custody in Kaithal, Haryana, for mimicking now-convicted rapist Dera Sacha Sauda chief Ram Rahim Singh. Sharda was granted bail a day later.

The action came after he was arrested from Mumbai by the Haryana Police and booked under Section 295-A (outraging religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious belief) of the Indian Penal Code.

After getting bail, he was on his way to Delhi when he was arrested again by the Haryana Police for a second case registered against him in Fatehabad. He was supposed to be produced in a Fatehabad court but was released when the police found “nothing against him” after he joined the investigation.

AIB: The comedy group, which used to be headed by Tanmay Bhat, Gursimran Khamba, Ashish Shakya and Rohan Joshi, got into trouble over their infamous ‘roast’ (insult comedy) in 2015 featuring actors Ranveer Singh, Arjun Kapoor and director Karan Johar, among others. The collective was booked on obscenity charges. 

The Mumbai Police registered an FIR at Tardeo police station against the group and other people who were present at the show, including Singh, Kapoor, Johar, and actors Deepika Padukone and Alia Bhatt, among others.

In November 2018, the Bombay High Court reportedly directed the city police to refrain from filing a charge sheet against the celebrities in the case.

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The apologies

In many cases over the years, several comedians and associated brands have said sorry after finding themselves in a spot of bother.

In July 2020, comedians Rohan Joshi, Sahil Shah, Azeem Banatwala, Aadar Malik and others posted videos apologising for hurting people’s sentiments after old videos of their comedy sketches resurfaced with the hashtag #HinduphobicComedyIndustry. The comedians were accused of mocking Hindu gods and goddesses.

Joshi, a former member of the comedy group AIB, even quit Twitter and said the matter had moved beyond the virtual world with his number and address leaked.

In May 2020, ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) registered a police complaint against comedian Surleen Kaur and Shemaroo Entertainment for an alleged derogatory comment on Hindu religion during a stand-up act. Kaur had reportedly linked ISKCON with pornography and also made a comment on Lord Ganesh.

Following the social media uproar, Shemaroo issued an unconditional apology to ISKCON and took down the video.

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  1. ThePrint is so biased and Islamic.
    India will never become islamic country🖕.
    There are 26 islamic country in the world but not a single Hindu country.” Sanatan” Best culture in the world.
    Please ThePrint Don’t try because even trying will get you to failure 😂

  2. Just because you are a comedian doesn’t make you any progressive it’s the context that matter the most giving vulgar remark about Hindu goddess god is a sign of extremist intolerance not progressive and this type of journalism is proof that how real hindus are second class citizens in this country.

  3. “trying to be funny”
    I beg to differ, most of them were actually funny. There’s no “trying”.
    The comments on this article are a different matter.. they are “trying to make sense”

  4. Yes we should share jokes on muhammad?
    Yes because comedy is comedy.
    We should publish stories on RANGEELA RASOOL.

  5. You didn’t mention what hashtag was trending when jokes were put up by these very comedians on Abrahamic religions, wait a minute.. they wouldn’t do that cause that would mean an instant death sentence by a mob. Plus, that wouldn’t be put up here in this manner, your opinionated “report” would make it look as if they had it coming for them like what happened in Bangalore.

  6. Let’s see how they and the print take cartoons or jokes on mihamed…… Oh… That we already know….

  7. These comedian are not at fault and doesn’t deserve such punishment. They are just people making other people laugh. And earlier also such comic acts has been preformed. Politicians have always been target of comedians which is correct as well. How one can forget the cartoonist R. K. Laxman. Hasn’t he made joke about the politician?
    I feel the act of punishing them is suppression of democratic voices and these criticism should be taken to improve the act of government or any other machinery instead of punishing the critic.

  8. Ya u are right shekhar gupta, editior in cheif Of print,it is hypocracy.what is wrong in making fun of hindu god and godess,abusing pm or president or supreme court of india.right.
    Gupta please tell these @$”””:/’commedian to make a fun comment on islamic belief.
    I am sure none of them with their whole family will live to talk.hihihihohohohahaha

  9. Forget cracking jokes, let anyone of the so called comedians draw an extremely reverential free hand sketch of The Prophet and let anyone of the media houses that support these comedians publish that sketch. If these comedians are not forthcoming, let these media houses just reprint one of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. If both are not done, then you all are nothing but a bunch of fake liberals.

  10. They should be made to apologize and all thier social media accounts shoulf be banned..these people are dangerous for the society should know the difference between freedom of speech and hate speech

  11. So now, Intentionally hurting people’s religious beliefs is funny? Why didn’t Munawar crack jokes on his own religion?

    If they are so talented, why can’t they find anything else to crack jokes? This is something easily avoidable. Don’t go retard trying to project yourself as a liberal

  12. People like kunal kamra, dhruv rathee, burkha dutt and many more say many bad things about hindu gods and Goddess. And at that time no one come and said that it is wrong. And if a person make joke of hazrat mohammad they cut their throats. And they always says that muslim in india are in fear. All are doing dhong to be secular. People did not read news in the quint, the wire, NDTV, and many more and didnt search in wikipedia. And the people didn’t trust on barkha dutt, rajdeep sardesai, ravish kumar, swara bhaskar, arvind kejriwal, sonia sena, congress party, leaders, leftist and mostly those people who says that they are secular. They all are paid. If CBI will investigate the some they find some people are funded by Pakistan, islamic countries, and some foreign countries. And the main is congress party who paid these dogle peoples.
    They want to demolish the nda Or BJP mainly Narendra modi because their politics is over when Narendra modi is in power.
    These people open their mouth for torturing the government which is choosen fairly by people of india. They support muslim people and shut up their mouth when something is happened with hindu. They are the aulad of babars. They misguided the people with fake news and media like caa, NRC, farmers bill is nothing but they show in a way that thes are wrong. Javed akhtar, arunthati roy, shaamil imam shehla rashid and many more are anti national.

  13. Making fun of Islam would result in you being called COMMUNAL. And you would end up dead.

    Making fun of HINDU GODS would make you SECULAR and get support of jihadist AND ultra left wing radicals supported by journalists and proselytizers

  14. What a great piece of shit you have vomited out of your thoughts.
    Making fun of faiths is no funny thing.

    • consider these:
      1. There used to be a couple living in Himalayas. One fine day, the wife carved a statue out of clay and it started to talk, walk, eat, breathe, etc. And that creature was killed by his ILLEGITIMATE father, who later replaced his head with an elephants.
      2. That creature with elephant head now ride on a mouse, his brother on a peacock and some other random woman on a owl.

      What do you think this bullsh!t is? This should be taken seriously in any way? NO. Its sole purpose is meant to be made fun of.

      And this isn’t specific to your religion only.
      In another religion, a self-proclaimed messenger of God FLEW to heaven on a donkey.
      In another one, the God himself was portrayed as most “white” creature of Jerusalem.


  15. These comedians sometimes deliberately court controversy to stay in the headlines. Most of the controversies are needless.

  16. I did not read this ‘article’. As I know what these commies are! But to all the comedians, clowns, jokers, liberal and progressive actors, directors, serial and film producers like anurag kashyap, sushant singh, tapasi pannu, vir das, that other clown who fights with arnab goswami, kapil sharma, deepika padukon, priyanka chopra etc….I HAVE JUST ONE REQUEST. LETS PUT THIS USELESS CONTROVERSY TO REST ONCE AND FOR ALL. Just make a few comic shows on prophet muhammad! Tell a few jokes about him! Tell a few jokes about Islam! make a little fun of quran! JUST DO IT FOR A FEW MONTHS. Make some TV series with this intention. Once the communal Hindu people see how unbiased you lot are, they will understand that all of you people are REALLY PROGRESSIVE PEOPLE. You are against all kind of religious beliefs, fanaticism, and ridiculous religious practices. Once that happens, communal hindu people will feel ashamed! They will never trouble any young budding clown like this farooqui! All he has to do is make fun of the prophet for 10 minutes THAN make fun of Sikh gurus for 10 minutes THAN he can make fun of these communal hindu people’s gods for next 40 minutes. How simple is that? Is it too much to ask? Hand on your heart, WOULDN’T a true liberal start doing this right now? Huh? I am sure our clowns will get on it without further delay! then these communal hindu people will have nothing to say!

    • Correctly said.We make comedy on Hindu gods just bcoz Hindus are tolerable we don’t care if somebody make a joke on Hindu gods but I don’t think or never heard that somebody made comedy on Muslims or Islam or something related to that bcoz they can’t tolerate or media is being directioned not to mention those kind of news.

    • They already make cartoons and jokes of prophet mohammed.but the problem is then no one gets arrested and when muslims protest you guys start shouting freedom of speech.but now in your case where is the freedom of speech gone?

  17. Comedian’s should restrict themselves to funny jokes rather than joking on Hindu god and goddess. Anybody will sit quiet if target one particular community.

  18. This government ,is putting all those who speak Even A of BJP , behind the bars . Commedy is Commedy Y should one take it to the heart of not guilty ? These comedians entertain people . Make them smile .Y R they not arresting Patra , Sudhir Arnab and many more of godi media for giving all false. News? And not taking any stand against do many wrong doings ?

    • Do you find nothing offensive with “Godra train burning, directed by Amit Shah and produced by RSS?”

    • As many said let them make fun of other religions, why target only one. One of the case mentioned in article has MVA Govt of Congress, NCP taking action against person for mocking Shivaji. So don’t blame BJP alone.

    • Let these jokers make similar funy onhis own
      religion and let the world know how many hours he will be alive onthis earth….shitpeople commies psid ghulams shame onyou

    • If you want anybody arrested, feel free to report their wrongdoings to the appropriate authority.
      And your support to those jerks making people smile by hurting someone just goes to show your hatred and haughtiness towards Hindus. Your demon mind can’t realize how cruel it is to make someone smile at the cost of our sentiments. There’s one thing common, all these criminals have chosen to hurt Hindu sentiments.

      Death to you!! Rot in hell!!

    • Oh these hindus are so intolerapnt that they are filing cases in court n fighting it legally even when these so called comedians are insulting derogatorily against our Gods. Atleast they are not as peaceful as the Muslims who these comedians are afraid of mocking their holy book or their prophet. We should all learn from them how to reply peacefully. Gustakhe Rasool ki ek hi saza ,sat tan se juda. This approach is the best. Ohh and Tanmay bhat n AIB were begging n pleading to the Mumbai arch dioesse over their jokes on jesus n Christians. These hindus have become so intolerant n should now show peacefully like the most peaceful religion did to Kamlesh Tiwari or the Charlie Hebdo journalists or Samuel paty.

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