Is There No Space For Comedy In India’s Current Political Climate?

Popular shows and mainstream movies get away with making sexist and racist jokes, but when it comes to religion or politics, why can’t we take a joke?

Kunal Kamra, the stand-up comedian whose cocky, anti-establishment brand of political humour puts him in a spot quite often, has landed in yet another debate. This time MS University of Vadodara cancelled his show citing ‘Anti-National’ content. While we can laugh our heads off watching Jimmy Kimmel roast President Trump, politically charged stand-up comedy is still hard to digest in India. 

There are many popular shows and movies which get away with making sexist and racist jokes, but when it comes to religion or politics, there has to be some sort of self-censorship.

Below are some incidents when our freedom of expression was threatened: 

1. AIB’s Roast



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A first of its kind, the AIB knockout was criticized by the censor board, religious communities, political parties and the Maharashtra police. After the show, the Bollywood personalities who were a part of the show were threatened by various groups.

2. Kiku Sharda As Gurmeet Rahim Singh



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The popular comedian who gained popularity for his character Palak on a TV show, was booked for mimicking self-proclaimed godman Dera Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and ‘hurting’ the religious sentiments of his followers.

3. Tanmay Bhatt’s Snapchat video imitating Sachin Tendulkar and Lata Mangeshkar

The stand-up comic and co-founder of AIB, landed in a controversy when the Twitterverse, Bollywood celebs, politicians and general public protested against him for ‘insulting’ Sachin Tendulkar and Lata Mangeshkar.

4. Aseem Trivedi’s Cartoons against Corruption


The cartoonist was slammed with a number of lawsuits after he released cartoons that mocked corruption in the Indian government.

5. Varun Grover



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The comedian-lyricist is often surrounded by controversy while taking digs on the people in power.