Hyderabad: Actor-comedian Vir Das’ ‘I come from two Indias’ monologue delivered Kennedy Centre in the United States has created quite a storm.
A spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Delhi Aditya Jha has filed a complaint accusing him of belittling the country on foreign soil.
In a six-minute monologue, Das describes two contrasting faces of the country and refers to many recent controversial topics in broad strokes. “I come from an India that has the largest working population under 30 on the planet but still listens to 75-year-old leaders with 150-year-old ideas,” he says in the viral monologue.
Jha shared a video on Twitter saying he “will not tolerate anyone insulting our nation in another country” and will fight for the arrest of the comedian.
“I will take this fight to a decisive end. I want Vir Das to be arrested so that no one can malign the nation like this,” Jha said, urging people to support his cause.
Meanwhile, Das issued clarification after receiving backlash. “There has been a sizable reaction to a video I posted on YouTube. The video is a satire about the duality of two very separate India’s that do different things. Like any nation has light and dark, good and evil within it. None of this is a secret,” the statement posted by Das read.
The 42-year-old stated that his intention was to serve as a reminder that the country, despite its issues, is “great.”
“The video appeals to us to never forget that we are great. To never stop focusing on what makes us great. It ends in a gigantic patriotic round of applause for a country we all love, believe in and are proud of. That there is more to our country than the headlines, a deep beauty. THAT’S the point of the video and the reason for the applause,” he wrote.
He also asked everyone not to be fooled by edited snippets.
“People cheer for India with hope, not hate. People clap for India with respect, not malice. You cannot sell tickets, earn applause, or represent great people with negativity, only with pride. I take pride in my country, and I carry that pride across the world. To me, a room full of people anywhere in the world, giving India an ovation is pure love,” Das wrote.
Several social media users including politicians have mocked the comedian for allegedly insulting his motherland in a foreign country.
Lawyer-politician Charu Pragya wrote, “Who is this “we” that you are talking about? Your freedom of speech doesn’t mean the slander of the male population of my country. Your generalisation is beyond shameful. You are an Indian that decided to demean India for your 15 seconds of fame!”
He received support too from Kapil Sibal and Shashi Tharoor, whose responses are in sharp variance to that of their party colleague, Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
Sibal tweeted, “None can doubt that there are two Indias. Just that we don’t want an Indian to tell the world about it. We are intolerant and hypocritical.”
Thiruvananthapuram MP and noted writer Shashi Tharoor also took to twitter to say: “A stand-up comedian who knows the real meaning of the term ‘stand up’ is not physical but moral — @thevirdas spoke for millions in this 6-minute take on the Two Indias he hails from & stands up for.”
Tharoor quoted Das’s line, “This is a joke, but it’s just not funny”, and added “Brilliant”.
These reactions were very different from that of Singhvi, who tweeted: “Generalising the evils of a few individuals and vilifying the nation as a whole in front of the world is just not done! The people who painted India in front of the west as a nation of ‘saperas’ and ‘luteras’ during colonial rule have not ceased to exist.”
Controversy’s favourite child actor Kangana Ranaut is the latest celebrity to slam Das.
On her Instagram story, she wrote, “When you generalise all Indian men as gang-rapists it gives rise and encouragement to racism and bullying against Indians all over the world…after Bengal Famine Churchill famously said, ‘These Indians breed like rabbits they are bound to die like this…’ he blamed Indians’ sex drive/fertility for the death of millions because of hunger… Such creative work targeting an entire race is soft terrorism… strict actions must be taken against such criminals @virdas.”
The complaint against Das joins a list of legal cases against comedians over issues such as defamation, hurting religious sentiments, and obscenity.
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