NEW DELHI: With the Madhya Pradesh High Court rejecting the bail application of comedian Munawar Faruqui, artists and activists conceded that the space of free speech in performances was shrinking. It is not just Faruqui. The row over web series Tandav for allegedly hurting “Hindu sentiments” keep them on
Stand up comic Adel Rahman said while people attend comedy shows ‘to be able to laugh’ in the US, most people let their ego come in between at home.
“When we write a joke, we do not have any intention to hurt anyone. It is not intended to hurt any sentiments. In Munawar’s case, he did not even the joke... Artists are the mirror of the society. We will talk about what is happening in India,” said Adel.
“People sometimes say don’t do politics, don’t do religion... There are controversies if you make a joke on a state, or a stereotype. What are the topics left? Comedy is an industry. There will be different sets of artists who touch upon different topics.”
Noting that Faruqui’s being denied bail as unfair, Anasuya Vaidya, theatre director Akshara Theatre said there was a general tendency to curb artistic tendency. While established artists are facing harassment for expressing themselves, the situation was worse for struggling artists, said activists and artists.
Activist Kavita Krishnan said in the current political climate, the space for dissent was shrinking, especially for those from minority groups.
Artistic endeavours should not be censored, said actor Parvin Dabas.
“Artists have been targeted by all walks of government. This needs to stop. Freedom of speech, which is not affecting anybody, is separate from defamation. ... There is hypocrisy in political parties which need to be addressed.”