The last few days have been a bumpy ride for stand-up comedians in India. The hate has spread amongst the comedians for slandering religious, cultural, and political icons. Many of them are being brutally trolled and abused online.
One such recent incident is of Rohan Joshi, a stand-up comedian, and co-founder of non-functional comedy group AIB (All India Bakchod). Net citizens have dug up old tweets of him. According to them, Rohan Joshi had tweeted abusive content against Thackeray family and Mamata Banerjee.
On receiving death threats and abuses, he took to Instagram and announced that he would be going offline. Rohan Joshi told me that his contact number and address were leaked. The trolling and bullying continued even after he deactivated his social media accounts.
Rohan Joshi is not only the one. Many stand-up comedians have alleged that their personal information has been shared online. They are also subjected to ongoing filth online. Comedian Vir Das along with other comics, took to Twitter to share their plight.
People are finding several old tweets and videos where comedians were seen as insulting politicians, Hindu deities, and historical figures of India. Several of them are surfacing all over the Internet.
Take a look at the stand-up comedians involved in such controversy:
It all started with the Agrima Joshua controversy. A video clip where she was mocking Hindu king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj went viral.
Mumbai-based comedian Agrima Joshua apologized for hurting people’s sentiments. She received a lot of hate comments and even rape threats, even after making a humble apology.
YouTuber Shubham Mishra terrorized her with rape and molestation in a video. It backfired to him after net citizens asked him to take the video down. The cybercrime police department arrested him.
However, many celebrities and fellow comedians came forward to support Agrima Joshua. Bollywood actress Swara Bhaskar posted Agrima’s videos, captioning it as ‘Journey of a Joke.’
Comedian Sumukhi Suresh and social media influencer Kusha Kapila shared on their Instagram about increasing intolerance and constant trolling.
Aadar Malik is a stand-up comedian and nephew of music composer Anu Malik. His eight-year-old video became a center of discussion.
In the video, Aadar Malik is seen cracking a joke on ‘Shiva Linga.’ Reacting to all online abuse, he said,” It (video) was taken out of context and out of time, and he has evolved since then to a better comedian.”
Soon after this incident, Aadar Malik shut all of his social media accounts.
Sahil Shah is a comedian and one of the members of East India Comedy, a comedy group.
Twitter users spotlighted one of his oldest tweets that created a fuss. The joke was on the Shiv Smarak, dedicated to Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
In his defense, he claimed that the pun was not about Chhatrapati Shivaji in particular. Sahil Shah apologized to Maharashtra’s government and said that his aim wasn’t to hurt the sentiments of people.
Comedian Alokesh Sinha was trolled for making fun of Hinduism and Hanuman Chalisa.
Ramesh Solanki, Hindutva activist, and former Shiv Sena member lodged a police complaint and alleged that making jokes on the Hindu religion has become a thing now.
Before deleting his social media, Alokesh Sinha posted a video apologizing and reassuring that it won’t happen again.
Neeti Palta is a comedian and screenwriter. She, too, has been criticized for mocking Hindu religion and Gods. Neeti’s old tweets are surfacing online.
On fearing aggressive comments, Neeti Palta has protected her Twitter account.
Sanjay Rajoura is a stand-up comedian and part of ‘Aisi Taisi Democracy,’ a comedy group.
Ramesh Solanki, Hindutva activist, and former Shiv Sena member filed a police complaint against Sanjay Rajoura. Ramesh alleged that Sanjay Rajouri passed insulting comments on Lord Shiva and Lord Ganesha.
The comedian mentioned above’s subject of comedy wasn’t cherished by the public. They think that these comedians are mocking Hindu Gods and national figures on the pretext of ‘comedy.’ Some might even call them “Anti Indian” or “Anti Hindu.”
I think the whole idea of stand-up comedy, according to these people, is not to portray political, cultural, or societal flaws hilariously. In India, religion is considered as something which should not be questioned. The veil of faith forces us Indians to believe in everyone and everything related to religion.
It is said that ‘Religion and Politics should not be mixed.’ Whom are we kidding? Just look at our country. We cannot imagine politics without religion. So how can we think of comedy without faith?
The purpose of a joke is to make you laugh and not to think about it logically.
This entire controversy will raise pertinent questions on “Freedom of speech and expression.” We are not free enough to make a satirical joke. But we are open enough to brutally troll someone, give them rape threats, and harass them mentally. We are hounding them to a level so that they could take an extreme step like suicide. After their suicide, talk about ‘Mental Health’ and ignore the fact that society is actually behind all this.
No one deserves to live or die in a constant state of worry and anxiety. In India, people only value others, especially artists, after they do something massive like suicide.
To avoid further abuse and retribution, the stand-up comedians have either deleted their twitter accounts or turned the protected feature. They are surely living in fear of people scouring their accounts and making a scene out of it. We have seen decade-old tweets coming to the limelight.
Abhijit Ganguly, a stand-up comedian, and writer questioned that attacked trolls would decide what is allowed and what is not. He further added, “How can some people decide that they are the ears (gatekeepers) of Hinduism?”
I know what should not be allowed- brainwashed people judging everything on religious grounds.