‘If My Surname Was ‘Khan’ or ‘Farooqui’...’: Comics React to Munawar’s Statement
Artiste Varun Grover noted that jesters like Birbal & Tenalirama would meet the same fate as Munawar Faruqui today.
Comedian Munawar Faruqui released a statement on Sunday suggesting that he might stop performing after several of his shows were cancelled due to threats from right-wing groups. The statement came after the Bengaluru Police wrote to the organisers of his show requesting that they cancel the show.
Several people including actors Swara Bhasker and Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub reacted to the news calling Munawar’s experience ‘unfair’. Fellow stand-up comedians and artistes expressed their support for Munawar Faruqui.
Satirist Arpit Sharma wrote that he knows he gets an ‘escape gate being a Hindu.’ “As an Artist, If I had ‘Khan’, ‘Farooqui’ or ‘Kappan’ as my surname, I would have had a different story altogether on Social Media. I know I get that escape gate being a Hindu. But, I always ensure that I utilise this privilege for Truth & Justice. With You Bhai - @munawar0018,” Sharma tweeted.
Comedian Kunal Kamra released a statement for journalists reaching out to him for a comment. Kamra wrote, “With every passing year I feel laughter is costing comedians more & more. It’s costing them their spontaneity and it’s costing them their impulse. I have even heard some comedians telling jokes to their lawyers & showing their video to a legal team before they release it online.”
He added, “The impulse of any artist to be calculative, a move in itself is the slow death of the art from. Laughter is beautiful, honest & most spurred by spontaneity- if a comedian is calculating what should they present to the audience for the audience to laugh at, the audience will also soon think what should they laugh on.”
Kunal Kamra concluded his statement with, “A zen master once quoted, “when you’re laughing you can never be in the past or the future”. That immense, confounding, timeless beauty of laughter is being penalised and criminalised."
"Imagine you reaching out to a comedian for a quote and comedian is not even trying to joke & is giving a serious calculated response, not a ephemeral, human reaction," Kamra added.
Varun Grover noted that dissent has always been the ‘foundational principle’ of satire and stand-up. He added that court jesters like Kabir, Tenalirama, and Birbal would have faced a fate like Munawar’s if they were born today.
Varun wrote, “The best times for comedy are also the worst times for comedy. Satire and stand-up have always been dangerous art forms because dissent is their foundational principle. But with a mix of fake news pandemic, crawling-in-the-mud mainstream media, and happy-to-look-away public and judiciary- we are always a day away from an artist being publicly lynched for their thoughts, and the lynching celebrated. (The only celebration a lot of people seem to be getting in their lives.)”
Varun called the ‘recent hounding of Munawar’ another brick in the same wall.
Referring to the ancient custom of court jesters, Varun wrote, “We come from a civilisation that had a Vidushak, a court jester in the royal halls to always tell the truth to the King, to be the conscience keeper of a society. But Kabir, Tenalirama, Birbal, Harishankar Parsai, Sharad Joshi- all would have faced the same fate if they were unfortunate enough to be born today.”
Talking about Munawar Faruqui’s statement, Varun added, “I am sad today that Munawar feels like quitting an art form he loves and is brilliant at- but am sadder that we have let our minds be manipulated enough to stay indifferent in the face of such developments. (The only vikas that’s really visible in the last few years.)”
Varun concluded with Kabir’s words “rephrased for the new era.” He wrote, “Nindak goli maariye toh distraction mil jaaye, paani sabun tel hai mehenga janta soch naa paaye.”
About Munawar, Agrima Joshua tweeted, “It's not just about him being Muslim. It's about him not being the "good Muslim". Sakhti aur Baadal Zaroori hai,” in a reference to comedian Zakir Khan’s comic style.
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