BENGALURU : Laughter may be the best medicine but stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra seems to be facing some bitter side effects of it. "There are other platforms for Kamra to air his views. Why do it in a public forum where it disturbs other passengers?" questions Subrahmanya Hegde, an IT professional and stand-up comedian, while reacting to the recent incident where Kamra was temporarily banned by airlines after he reportedly accosted journalist Arnab Goswami on a flight.
"Of course he has the right to exercise his freedom of speech but not at the cost of encroaching someone’s personal space," continues Subrahmanya.
This opinion is shared by Sonu Venugopal, a comedian and RJ. Recalling instances when her job too has required reaching out to celebrities, she says one has to respect the other party’s wish to not take part in an interaction. “Sometimes you just have to take the moral high ground. Giving someone a taste of their own medicine doesn’t always work,” she adds, while referring to instances where Goswami has behaved similarly.
For comedian Harshith Hegde, on the other hand, this is exactly what justifies Kamra’s behaviour on the flight. “Everyone knows Goswami is the same way on his channel, where the other person just can’t get a word in. If he’s allowed to do this on his show, what’s wrong with what Kamra did?,” explains Harshith.He adds: “Besides, he also apologised to the crew and pilots.”
While these comedians share mixed views on the incident, there seems to be consensus when it comes to the consequences of Kamra’s action: That there was no need for multiple airlines to impose temporary bans on him flying with them. “Comedians are constantly on the move for their shows and doing this takes their living away,” argues Harshith.
Agreeing that the move is not justified, Venugopal wonders why other airlines too are following suit when the alleged incident took place with IndiGo airlines only. “Airports and airplanes in India are already so chaotic, how does this one thing add to more chaos?” she says, adding that all Kamra did was take the chance he got. “But the important thing to keep in mind is consent. If you don’t get it, it’s best to just move on.”
Recently, IndiGo airlines imposed a six-month temporary ban on Kunal Kamra for allegedly heckling journalist Arnab Goswami on one of its flight, even making a video of the one-sided interaction, which now has 40,000 retweets and 129.5K likes on Twitter.
The video shows Goswami paying attention to something on his laptop as he strictly avoids Kamra’s comments and questions. Soon after, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri also issued a statement advising other airlines to also follow suit, which has now been implemented by Air India, SpiceJet and GoAir.
In a statement shared on social media, Kamra said, "Fact of the matter is that at no point was I disruptive and at no point did I not follow orders of the cabin crew or the captain. At no point did I endanger the safety of any passenger on board, the only damage I caused was to the inflated ego to the ‘journalist’ Arnab Goswami."
The pilot of the flight has also reportedly emailed the airline, stating that Kamra’s behaviour did not deserve the consequence it received.