(Published in The Times of India: http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/shaira-mohan-)
The sheer hypocrisy of this incident is mind-boggling.
A comedien known for his praise-worthy acting and impersonations in one of India’s most widely watched comedy shows gets arrested for doing what he does best — his job.
Comedy Nights With Kapil is a show that has been around since June 2013. Not only was the show an overnight success both within India and beyond, but it put Kapil Sharma, the show’s host and actors like Kiku Sharda, Sunil Grover, Ali Asgar and many others on the map as India’s undisputed stars of entertainment.
What has made this show such a sensation?
Undoubtedly, Kapil Sharma nailed it with his personal brand of perfectly-timed, witty one-liners and Sunil Grover portraying the eccentric Gutthi had us glued to our television sets, rolling with laughter. And then there’s Kiku Sharda who stunned us with his whistle-worthy dance moves and witty comebacks to Kapil’s provocative digs.
The same Kiku Sharda who recently, as part of a scripted, routine act of impersonating a prominent figure in his hugely popular avatar as the nosy neighbour, Palak, mimicked Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the Indian spiritual leader and actor, and was arrested by the police. The complaint was lodged by a staunch supporter of Singh that has resulted in sending Sharda away in judicial custody for 14 days.
And then we argue that we are, indeed, a ‘tolerant’ nation.
Unarguably, Comedy Nights with Kapil is a show that makes playful jibes and teasing remarks that are directed not just at the celebrities and the cast on the show but also many other eminent personalities in a clearly jovial vein. The loud claps from the audience and frequent standing ovations are testament to the fact that malicious intent has never been anyone’s agenda on the show. This was also made clear by Kiku Sharda’s apology and tweet clearly stating his intentions and vindicating him of the allegations against him.
And yet Kiku Sharda sees the inside of a jail cell because India has lost its sense of humour.
Because by our own doing, we are so far deep in the clutches of religious divides and blind faith that it has hardened us towards one another to the extent that jest playfully aimed at one another can now lead to handcuffs.
Kiku Sharda came to work, just like on any other day and did his job. And India and Indians all over the world laughed out loud, just like any other day. If the actors on this show were to be arrested each time they jokingly impersonated celebrities and famous figures, the show would have been forced to close shop a long time ago. Lets not forget that it is WE, the people of India, the biggest audience of this show that accepted it for what it was and exalted it to find the success it boasts today. Section 295 A of the Indian Penal Code seems to have become a ‘hall pass’ for many to use just to stir up some unwarranted trouble.
Lets drop the hypocrisy and the unending wrath towards each other. Lets not put a man behind bars for an impersonation but rather applaud him for his skill. Lets get back that lost sense of humour and the ability to distinguish between a real insult and a harmless leg-pull. The one thing Kapil’s show has taught me and a million others is that laughter certainly is the best medicine. Even if sometimes the joke’s on you.