Indian comics are choking and it’s not funny

Kunal Kamra, Kenny Sebastian, Akash Banerjee, Danish Sait, UPA, BJP, Narendra Modi, Stand-up comedy, Humour, Laughter, Self-censorship
Stand-up comedians feel self-censored in the present day political environment. Image: Eunice Dhivya

In 1968, Tamil actor and political satirist Cho Ramaswamy directed a satirical play ‘Muhammad bin Tughlaq’ and played the title character. The play was a parody of India’s political situation at the time. It remains as one of his best works to date. Buoyed by its success, Ramaswamy went on to start a Tamil weekly magazine by the same name in the 1970s.

Cho was quick and spontaneous with his political wit. Over the years, he became quite vocal about the powers that be and freely expressed his views through his publication.

Cho, who died in 2016, and his magazine’s popularity was such that it attracted the attention of many, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who attended two of its annual-day celebrations.

Addressing the 47th anniversary of the publication in 2017, Modi lauded the work of Cho and said his satire made his criticism more likeable to even those he criticised.

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