Why so serious?: Bengaluru comedians fear backlash

Arts & Culture City

The cancelling of Munawar Faruqui’s show has made a bad situation worse for comedians.

Several comedians in the city fear performing after Munawar Faruqui’s event got cancelled in Bengaluru on Sunday.

Gaurav Purohit, a stand up comedian, believes if comedians are penalized for their jokes, the art form will die out gradually.”I do not want to face repercussions for my thoughts and my jokes, that is my fundamental right,” he said.

The repercussions comedians get for their shows scares Gaurav.. He said, ” If nobody insults me, it is not a democracy.”

On Sunday, Munawar Faruqui tweeted, “Today, the Bangalore show got cancelled (under the threats of venue vandalism). We sold 600+ tickets. A month back my team called the late Puneeth Rajkumar sir organization for charity which we were going to generate from this show in Bangalore. We are not going ahead with that. I think this is the end. My name is Munawar Faruqui and that’s been my time. You guys were a wonderful audience. Goodbye, I’m done,” he added.

Officials from his team said Munawar has not been reachable after the post. For the 12th time in two months, Munawar Faruqui’s event got cancelled, said his manager Vishesh. 

“On November 27 evening, I got a notice from the police who wanted us to cancel the show due to security reasons,” Saquib, one of the officials from his team said. Saquib then got in touch with various officials in the city, including the Deputy Commissioner of Police and Chief Minister’s Office, but he was forced to cancel the show.

“Officials from Chief Minister’s office (CMO) asked us to call off the show for Covid-19 reasons,” he said. However, the CMO has denied making any such comments.

The police officials at Ashok Nagar Police station said, “Munawar is a controversial figure. After getting several threats from local organizations in Bengaluru, we decided to send a notice suggesting that the event should be cancelled.”

Allwin, manager at Good Shepheard Auditorium, said he got the notice from the police on the same evening. “We were asked to call off the show due to security reasons. However, the notice allowed us to hold the show with due security provisions in place. It was the manager who cancelled the event,” he added.

Another comedian from Bangalore who wishes not to be named said that after several political threats on his social media, he was forced to stop performing for over a month. “Comedy is about shared experience. Humour is a strong tool of democracy. But stand-up is looked at as a corrupting influence on the youth in the country. Also, when it comes to Munawar Faruqui, his religion is definitely a factor,” he said.

Kunal Kamra, a comedian, said “The impulse of an artist, to be so calculative, a move in itself is the slow death of the art form. Laughter is beautiful, honest and most importantly spurred by spontaneity. With every passing year, I feel laughter is costing comedians more and more.”

Human rights activist Narasimha Murthy believes the Modi government is treating comedians as anti-national. Jokes are necessary. People have to laugh. Comedians should be given the freedom of their humour and jokes. One cannot hold the comedians responsible for the jokes they crack”.