Please Don’t ‘Shut Up Ya Kunal’: Enjoying Politics Through Comedy
What is humour? A silly ‘Santa Banta’ joke or an elephant and ant joke? What’s your flavour?
I’d say some satire, a dash of criticism and simple everyday things we all relate to. Comedian Kunal Kamra’s latest podcast series ‘Shut Up Ya Kunal’ is just that. Kamra sits down and talks to young minds, from politics or otherwise, and discusses things we youngsters rant about at lunch everyday.
So far the series has had three episodes. Kamra spoke to BJP’s youth wing Vice-President Madhukeshwar Desai in the first episode (FAB), Congress’ National Spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi in the second (SO DULL) and JNU’s Umar Khalid and Kanhaiya Kumar in the third episode (AMAZE).
So here’s an insight into the three episodes of ‘Shut Up Ya Kunal’ as I saw them.
Episode 1: No Beef With the BJP
I never imagined the BJP youth wing Vice-President would be just 29. You’ll be surprised to know that the cut-off age for BJP’s youth wing is 40.
But as far as the knowledge base about our young leaders is concerned, this episode had some great moments. Kamra touched upon a host of topics like Rahul Gandhi jokes, the Sanghi troll army, the beef ban, the anti-national debate, minorities in India and even section 377.
But through the first episode, I did feel that Kamra just went on and on so much that Desai’s own take was missed. One wants to hear the interviewee talk, but Kamra’s anecdotes stretch out for longer than needed. After wading through the swordplay, there comes a priceless moment when the two are discussing the position of minorities in the country and you see the difference in perception between a seemingly neutral youngster and a youngster who is a part of the ruling party’s youth wing.
Kamra tells a story of a Muslim cab driver who was asked by a Marathi cop to go and live in Pakistan if he couldn’t speak Marathi, to which Desai’s words of wisdom are, “I would have been happy if you said an old man was being bullied.”
While Kamra stressed on the notion that we are good people, we don’t need wars and wish to better our country Desai connected issues with the sentiments of the masses and advertised the BHIM app.
Episode 2: Congress’ Official Woke Person
The second episode had a WOW factor for me since I only remembered this guest from Arnab Goswami’s Newshour debate and then the famous ‘empty chair’ on Times Now.
By now you would have guessed who the second person on ‘Shut Up Ya Kunal’ was. Yes, it was Priyanka Chaturvedi.
The Priyanka episode was a bit of a bummer as the live audiences’ reaction kept distracting me and it looked like one of Kamra’s comic acts but with a punching bag sitting right next to him. Kamra hit out at the Congress multiple times, lambasting Rahul Gandhi’s incapabilities as party Vice President, referencing the Panama Papers, and a sly allusion to ‘all the scams’ the Congress party had been mired in.
This episode was quite flat and pretty much just had some Robert Vadra jokes sprinkled here and there. I mean, yes, Vadra has a good body and one might want to know what he’s drinking (HOPE PROTEINS ONLY) but hey, get over it already now, we’ve got bigger sh*t to worry about.
Kamra manages to salvage a part of this episode by addressing how trolling for all women including Priyanka Chaturvedi begins and ends with the fact that they are women – and then rips apart sexist trolls for their lack of substance. Oh Kamra, we love how you slip in a joke that makes all of us go “Yaaassss!”. Smooth!
But like in the first episode, we didn’t get to see much of Priyanka’s views on a host of issues, especially about the change in Congress’ image after 2014.
Episode 3: Kanhaiya and Umar are “Just Students”
This is, so far, the best episode of ‘Shut Up Ya Kunal’. I loved how Kanhaiya and Umar talked about being called anti-nationals, the new definition of nationalism, about being shouted at on Indian television, the massive trolling and death threats they faced, about caste, class differences and their simple student life.
Kanhaiya Kumar steals show here and Kamra gives him the platform. The entire episode flows so easily, you end up believing that these three are just a group of old friends getting together. Umar and Kanhaiya talk about how they thought their lives were ‘set’ when they got an admission in JNU but little did they know they’ll see days when an auto-driver would refuse them a ride for being “anti-national”.
Kamra does a fab job of drawing out some juicy details and the humour hidden in Umar and Kanhaiya’s experiences. Also, quick trivia – did you know Umar Khalid and Kanhaiya didn’t know each other till they landed in jail together? That’s also when Kanhaiya got to know that Umar Khalid was in fact one person and not Umar and Khalid.
Such is the magic of this particular episode that even if you dislike them (for whatever reason) Kamra manages to pull out the intriguing anecdotes that anyone of any political leaning can enjoy. *CLAPS*
‘Shut Up Ya Kunal’ is an engaging series in the sense that it helps us, the mango people, understand these other not-so-mango people, who come with a differing point of view or experience.
Kunal Kamra gives these people a chance to tell their real stories which you might not get from a studio discussion on a news channel. What is the life of an opposition party’s spokesperson like? This is the kind of real-time, background detail political conversation is often missing, and Kunal delivers.