'No Shows, No Support': Diary of Nalin Yadav, Arrested With Munawar Faruqui

While Munawar's life still makes headlines with its own set of struggles, Nalin's story has remained on the fringes.

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Camera :Athar Rather

One evening in February 2022, at a comedy club in Gurugram, a 26-year-old man asked his rather thin audience: "Do you know me? My name is Nalin Yadav." Met with murmurs, he followed it up with the next question: "Do you know Munawar Faruqui?" A collective "yes" resonated in the club.

In all, there were six people in the audience.

"I went to prison with Munawar. He was there for 30 days, I was there for 58 days. But you don't know me. I am telling you this since grief needs to be capitalised in the times that we live in," said Nalin, as he elicited some laughs.

In January last year, a case was filed against comedians Munawar Faruqui, Nalin Yadav, and three others for 'rehearsing' jokes, allegedly about Hindu deities. Since then, Nalin's life has been marred by financial ruin, cancelled shows, and ostracism.

Munawar, Nalin, and the others were arrested a day after right-wing activists obstructed Munawar's show in Indore's Monroe Cafe last year. Nalin, who had opened the act, claims that he was arrested for "standing up for what's right."

A year later, The Quint met him at a modest house in Delhi's Chhatarpur Enclave, where he has been staying since he left Indore. The same evening, he performed a set at the comedy club in Gurugram in front of six people. Polite, funny, poignant, and desperate – this is the Nalin we met.

At his friend's house in Delhi, Nalin said, "Till date, I had only heard of a Dalit or a Muslim getting lynched. The atmosphere that was there (in Indore) that day (in 2021) was similar. Something like that was happening before me for the first time."

"Shocked" by how things unfolded on stage, Nalin stood up against the right-wing activists. A day later, along with Munawar and the three others, Nalin too was arrested.

"I stood up for the fact that this should not happen, and if it does, it shouldn't happen before me. But the repercussions you face after that destroy your hope and belief every day. You cannot understand who you did it for and which way you will head. It is not easy to speak the truth out loud," said Nalin.

An Artist Desperate for Help

Munawar's story has made the headlines several times, with news outlets keeping a tab on all the developments in the case. Recently, social media burst into a heated debate about his participation in the Kangana Ranaut reality show Lock Upp on an OTT platform. Somehow, amid all this chaos and news, Nalin's story has remained on the fringes.

At a recent performance, Nalin jokingly said, "Munawar is currently negotiating with Amazon Prime and I am having to stand here and tell you who I am!"

Since Nalin's release in February 2021, work has been scarce. Promoters who booked him in a jiffy in the past withdrew their support, and venues cancelled his shows merely hours before he was going to get on stage. At home, Nalin's 17-year-old brother holds the fort, as the siblings lost their parents a few years ago.


"The few organisers I spoke to told me that the January 2021 incident and the subsequent arrest has made them wary. They tell me I should lie low for a bit. How do I blame the organisers? They are from Indore; they have to live in the city. There's a tag attached to me now and people are scared to work with me because of that," said Nalin.

With no work and income at hand, Nalin even worked as a daily wage labourer for a month soon after his release.

"I worked at a plastic bag factory and would get Rs 250-300 a day. I quit within a month because it affected me negatively. News articles were published on this and I assumed that finally, better things will come my way," said Nalin.

That was not to be.

While some people did help him out financially, there were still no shows. "The actual help that I was looking for was a chance to perform on stage as I did earlier or a chance to record videos," said Nalin.

After losing his father at 14, Nalin lost his mother to cancer in 2020. While the family has always struggled to make ends meet, the case has made things worse for him and his 17-year-old brother.

"My brother was all alone when I was in prison. At a time when I was supposed to be looking after him, he was struggling to secure my bail. He had to quit his studies due to financial problems. After our mother passed away, we got the insurance money; we had saved it up for my brother's college fee, but we used it for my bail instead. I can't look him in the eye," said Nalin.

Who's Standing Up for Nalin Yadav After All This? 

Nalin said that he had never imagined he would have to make a fresh start after being released from prison.

"For the first few days in jail, I regretted what I did. I kept thinking that here I was, while I had a younger brother at home who I am supposed to look after. One calming thought was that once I got out, this nightmare would be over. I was wrong," said Nalin.

Over a year later, he wonders who from the industry still supports him. "I look for that and I don't find it. This breaks my heart," he said.

Despite all the struggles, Nalin finds himself returning to comedy. In his own words, "Comedy is like that bad habit I can't quit. The journey begins the day you hear the first laugh when you're on stage, it is your acceptance in society. It's tough to leave after that."

When he looks back on the "incident," Nalin recalls how he had wondered if comedians from other cities would perform in Indore after this. "That day I tried to save comedy. I didn't want the scene here to suffer. When I started doing comedy in Indore, I believed that this was an art form where we could express ourselves freely. I didn't work so hard for so many years to see this outcome," he said.

Many people advise Nalin to quit comedy and look for a routine job in another field. So far, he has fought that advice. "I know that I won't be able to take up any other job because that feeling will eat me up every day. It would have been different if I had left it myself," said Nalin.

From being paid to perform comedy sets to paying Rs 200 for a five-minute spot on the stage during an open mic, Nalin has seen quite the shift in his career. "I was doing stand-up because I enjoyed it and it paid me well, but now, I do stand-up because that is what has got me into the situation that I am in," he added.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Camera :Athar Rather
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