Days after comedian Munawar Faruqi was denied bail by Madhya Pradesh High Court after being arrested for hurting religious sentiments with his jokes, fellow comic Vir Das recalled an incident when one of his stand-up shows was interrupted by cops.
Das, who often receives hate on social media for his jokes and satirical comments, recently appeared on an episode of A Little Late with Lilly Singh. Recalling the time one of his jokes got him in trouble, Das said that once he was performing a set at a stadium in Delhi when he cracked a joke about former Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam. Das was answering a question by Singh about whether he himself had faced any censorship due to his jokes.
According to the comedian, someone in the audience found the joke unfunny and offensive enough to call the cops on the performer in the middle of the show.
"I’ve gotten into trouble because of jokes that I made, but I often find that the people who you are making a joke about, never have a problem," Das tells Singh, formerly YouTube's 'Wonderwoman', adding that it's usually the other people who had a problem with jokes.
He went on to tell the tale of when he met President Kalam some years later and upon interacting with him found out that Kalam had seen the joke Das had previously made and even found it funny. "That was the best moment in my career," Das said.
Das has been among the number of comedians and performing artists in India who have been vocal about their support for the 29-year-old comedian Munawar Faruqi, who has been in prison since 2 January, a day after he was detained by Indore Police. Das and others like Varun Grover have rallied behind Faruqui and termed his arrest an attack on free speech and art. A video of the incident has been going viral where Faruqui is being interrupted in the middle of his performance in Indore as he tries to explain his content to those offended by his jokes.
Following the arrest, Indore Town Inspector (Tukaganj Police Station) Kamlesh Sharma told the media that Faruqui has been booked as an organiser. “There’s no evidence against him for insulting Hindu deities or Union Minister Amit Shah,” Sharma had been quoted as saying.
Das's appearance comes a day after Kunal Kamra - another comedian under the scanner for his jokes - told the Supreme Court in a reply that judges and courts did not enjoy protection from jokes. Kamra was responding to a notice by the SC regarding petitions asking for initiation of contempt of court proceedings against the comedian.