Indians Trying to #BoycottKapilSharma for Parodying TV News, Where’s Your Sense of Humour Now?

Social Commentary

Indians Trying to #BoycottKapilSharma for Parodying TV News, Where’s Your Sense of Humour Now?

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

On Indian television, the most talked-about news anchor doesn’t just have viewers, he has fans. And those fans can be quite passionate, or maybe rabid, depending on whether you are with them or against them. The anchor is Republic TV’s chief Arnab Goswami, whose loud, often unpredictable rants are as much meme fodder as they are news broadcast. And while it is said that imitation is the best form of flattery, not all of Goswami’s fans will agree. A parody of Goswami played by comedian Kiku Sharda on The Kapil Sharma Show has driven the Goswami stans to rage against Kapil Sharma, Sharda, the show, as well as the channel where it is broadcast.

During the lockdown, even as other journalists spent time covering bland topics like the coronavirus pandemic, border tensions with China, farmers’ protests, and most recently, women’s safety, Goswami was serving up the spicy saga of Sushant Singh Rajput’s death by suicide. Two of his most popular rants during this period was the one where Goswami, convinced that Bollywood stars are addicted to drugs, blows his fuse screaming out “Mujhe drugs do! Mujhe drugs do!” in what he must have assumed was a faithful impression of the stars.

His second was his “Kahan hai Salman?” rant, where he raged and raved at a Salman Khan who wasn’t even in his studio or on his panel. Both episodes were faithfully parodied by Sharda on The Kapil Sharma Show, directly linking his character of a dangerously unethical and inept journalist to Goswami’s real-life persona.

Even a harmless send-up like the one by Sharda seemed to ruffle the feathers of Goswami’s supporters. #BoycottKapilSharmaShow began trending along with clips of the show. Sharma’s show has landed in hot water in the past for insensitive jokes, including one where the script mocked an actress’ dark complexion for laughs, but this might be the first time that somebody took this comedy show seriously enough to call for a boycott.

When will India learn to take a joke?