Vir Das' 'Two Indias' Ignites an Important Debate
Veer Das delivered a stage performance at the United States’ Kennedy Centre, a video of which premiered online on November 15. The content of his nearly seven-minute section is centred around India and , as expected from the present character of the country, exacerbated passions - leading to Das facing legal action for his words.
Following criticism over a video, comedian Vir Das issued a statement saying that his intention was to remind that India, despite its issues, was "great".
Das’ stand-up act 'I come from two Indias' mirrors the polarity of the monologue and has led to a fierce debate .His epilogue touches upon social issues - from gender violence to communalism, and other topics such as politics, governance, cricket, journalism and sexuality. Vir Das raked over several domestic issues before the global audience. He specifically made a reference to the controversial Lakhmipur Kheri incident that claimed the lives of 9 people, including four innocent farmers. Given that the exclusive mention of ‘Annadata’ (farmers) being run over can evoke emotions, the comedian said, “I come from an India where we take pride in being vegetarians and yet run over the farmers who grow our vegetables.” His short speech also addressed a wide range of topics- from the PM Cares fund to cricket to women's safety in India.
Unfortunately the quiet powerful monologue that was probably intended to create a positive impact, has not gone down well with viewers around the country, resulting in severe backlash. Participants on social media have been commenting on the video since it was released. Many have posted clips and pictures from his monologue, agreeing to its content. However, right wing supporters and some top politicians across the spectrum have taken a dim view of Das’s video. Aditya Jha, a spokesperson for the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), has reportedly filed a complaint against Das for supposedly ‘insulting’ the nation before an international audience. “I want Vir Das to be arrested so that no one can malign the nation like this,” he said on Wednesday.
Veer das is just another name in the list of Comedians who constantly remain in the eye of extremists for their biting political satire. Names like Kunal Kamra and Varun Grover have been harassed in various forms - from getting life and rape threats to cases being filed against them. Perhaps, it won’t be wrong to say that BJP’s ‘Bharat’ lacks a sense of humour.
Few months back a young and successful comedian of India, Munawar Faruqui was arrested for allegedly hurting religious sentiments on January 1 2021, just before he was about to start his performance at a cafe in the popular 56 Dukan locality of Indore. Eklavya Gaur, convenor of the Hind Rakshak Sangathan and son of Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Malini Gaur had filed the complaint against the 30 year old comedian after which the latter was booked under several charges.
Gaur stated that he and his associates went to see the show where the alleged indecent jokes about Hindu gods and goddesses and Union Home Minister Amit Shah were made. Munawar stayed in jail for at least two months before getting bail, which was initially rejected multiple times. Despite Munawar repeatedly apologizing and claiming his jokes were not meant to hurt anyone’s sentiments and it’s being crystal clear that the context of his jokes was distorted, the case continues.
The joke hit the hardest when it is not funny and the Government surely took the burn. The very piece narrated by Vir Das ignited the very reality of the 2 Indias. One, who is portraying sheer ignorance towards the root reality of the country and is busy infuriating. I wouldn’t really pay to go to comedy clubs when I can just switch on my news channel. The 2nd India, understands the importance of confrontation and acceptance, and were applauding in the same hall when the government was busy preparing for the UAPA charges. Freedom of speech they say! Perhaps the only man allowed to put forth “MANN KI BAAT” is the only one who has fundamental rights.