9 Indian Stand-Up Comedians Who Landed In Controversies

They say laughter is the best medicine, but what happens when the jokes turn sour?
Let’s find out! Sometimes even making people laugh can land you in big trouble, and sometimes even in jail! While the country’s stand-up comedy scene has grown a lot in the last few years, many times comedians have landed into controversies for their jokes. Let’s take a look at all the times when Indian comedians were involved in huge controversies.

1.) Munawar Iqbal Faruqi

The most famous instance of a comedian landing in controversy was when Munawar Faruqi was jailed due to an FIR for his jokes.
On January 1, Faruqui was arrested in Indore following a complaint by Aklavya Laxman Singh Gaur of the Hind Rakshak outfit alleging that indecent remarks were made during his show about Hindu deities. He was arrested under various sections of the IPC such as 295- A and 269 and 188.

The case garnered significant media attention and sparked a debate about freedom of speech and artistic expression in India. He was eventually released from jail, however, still many of his shows kept getting canceled due to protests by right-wing groups.

2.) Kiku Sharda

In January 2016, Kiku Sharda who is famous for his appearances in the TV ‘Show Comedy Nights With Kapil’ was sent to 14-day judicial custody in Kaithal, Haryana for mimicking now-convicted rapist Dera Sacha Sauda chief Ram Rahim Singh. In the FIR against him, the complainant alleged that Sharda in a TV show, Jashn-e-Umeed, which aired on December 27 that year, mimicked the Dera chief Ram Rahim Singh and made fun of a scene from his movie, MSG-2. The comedian was booked under section 295 A of the Indian Penal Code.

3.) Kunal Kamra – Part 1
Kunal Kamra is also quite famous for facing legal troubles and embroiled in political controversies.  In November 2020, Attorney General K K Venugopal consented to the initiation of criminal contempt proceedings against Mr Kamra. This happened due to Kamra posting a series of tweets following the Supreme Court giving interim bail to Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami. 

Kamra, however, had told the court in response that “tweets were not published with intention of diminishing people’s faith in the highest court of our democracy” and that “the suggestion that my tweets could shake the foundations of the most powerful court in the world is an over-estimation of my abilities”.

4.) Kunal Kamra – Part 2
This happened after the famous ‘showdown’ between Arnab Goswami and Kunal Kamra on an Indigo airplane wherein, Kamra recorded a viral video from inside the flight questioning Arnab Goswami, while Arnab for a change sat silently. Kamra, therefore, was banned from flying by Indigo and other airlines for about 2-3 months. In its notice to Kamra, the airline said that the decision to ban him was taken because of his “unruly conduct” aboard the IndiGo.

5.) Agrima Joshua

As we can already see, just cracking jokes can land you in so much trouble, but sometimes reactions and hate towards a comedian can just stoop to levels unimaginable and distressing levels. This happened after a 2019 video of  Agrima Joshua, wherein she jokes about the Maharashtra government’s Shivaji statue project in the Arabian Sea, went viral on social media. Comedian Agrima Joshua was not just threatened with legal action but was at the receiving end of rape threats and abuses! In fact, the then Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had instructed the Mumbai police to take legal action against the stand-up comedian, on allegations of insulting Chhatrapati Shivaraj Maharaj. 

In the end, Joshua had to put out an apology on Twitter and clarify that the video in question was taken down.

6.) Tanmay Bhat

When it comes to controversies and backlash, Tanmay Bhatt is no stranger to it. He is famous for often being in the middle of controversies and landing in trouble. One of them happened in May 2016 when an FIR was filed against Tanmay Bhat for a video he posted on Snapchat where he seemingly mocked singer Lata Mangeshkar and cricketer Sachin Tendulkar. The video sparked major outrage among the people and Shiv Sena, BJP and MNS demanded action against him and AIB. Mumbai Police’s Special Branch had placed a request with Google and YouTube urging them to delete the video.

7.) Kapil Sharma

Kapil Sharma, the popular comedian whose show The Kapil Sharma Show is a household name and enjoyed by many, also got into trouble. This happened when in 2016 he tweeted that some Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials asked him to pay a bribe to let him construct his office space in Mumbai. He sent out a tweet to Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying, “Ye hain aapke achche din?”

After this, many said his tweet was politically motivated, and the matter escalated when the MNS threatened to “shut down” Sharma’s show unless he apologized.

8.) Vir Das
Virdas is probably India’s most famous comedian who is also able to make it big in the West. However, he also got into trouble because of his stand-up show and was embroiled in a controversy. This happened after his monologue, ‘I Come From Two Indias’  became viral. The video clip wherein he highlights contradictions that exist in India received polarized responses. In the monologue, he raises issues in our society such as women’s safety, freedom of speech, and polarizing politics. Specifically, he mentioned the paradox of worshipping women during the day and the issue of gang rape at night. After this went viral, he received criticism for his views and was trolled.

A spokesperson for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) filed a police complaint against Das for “insulting the country,” while another BJP member requested a case be filed for “hurting the feelings of nationalists.” The BJP chief minister of Madhya Pradesh even banned Das from performing in the state. 

9.) Sanjay Rajoura

Sanjay Rajoura was another comedian who landed in trouble after allegedly mocking Indian gods. Former Shiv Sena leader and RTI activist Ramesh Solanki filed a police complaint against stand-up comedian Sanjay Rajoura and the team of ‘Aisi Taisi Democracy’.

“Not just filling complaint but will make sure Sanjay and his team is legally punished for mocking Hindu Gods and Goddesses and hurting Hindu sentiments. Hindu peace-loving hai coward nahi,” Solanki wrote on Twitter. In the end, Sanjay Rajoura was forced to go offline from Twitter. 

All these controversies have shaken these Indian comedians’ career and sparked conversations about freedom of expression and a fine line of humor. Also, please don’t forget to share this article, and hope you don’t face any legal trouble anytime soon, till then adios!

Also check: 10 Most Underrated Stand-up Comedians in India

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