MUMBAI: Comedian Tanmay Bhat is in trouble once again, this time over a video in which he mimics cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and singer Lata Mangeshkar.
Mumbai police commissioner Datta Padsalgikar on Monday ordered an enquiry against Bhat after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Ashish Shelar lodged a complaint. Bhat has been accused of ‘ insulting’ Tendulkar and Mangeshkar in the video, which he shared on Facebook and Snapchat, a photo-and video-sharing platform, on May 26. The video, titled ‘Sachin vs Lata Civil War’, went viral on Facebook and was uploaded to YouTube by various people.
The police have also written to Facebook and Google, which owns YouTube, asking them to take down the video.
Although the police chief has ordered an enquiry against Bhat, lawyers told HT that there can be no case against the comedian unless Tendulkar or Mangeshkar lodge a formal complaint with the police. Advocate Abad Ponda said, “It is a basic principle that a defamation complaint has to be filed by the aggrieved person – in a magistrate court if they are seeking criminal action and in a civil court if they want monetary compensation. The police cannot investigate defamation cases on their own.” The special branch of t he Mumbai police will conduct the enquiry against Bhat. This will be the second time the comedian has landed in trouble over allegedly offensive jokes. In February 2015, he and other members of comedy troupe All India Bakchod were booked for causing offence during a ‘roast’ of Bollywood celebrities at the National Sports Club of India (NSCI), Worli. The police later dropped the investigation on the orders of a court.
The current controversy is over a two-minute video in which Bhat plays both Tendulkar and Mangeshkar – with their faces morphed onto his – in a fictional conversation between the two. Imitating Lata, Bhat says cricketer Virat Kohli is better than Tendulkar. To this, the comedian – now playing Tendulkar – tells the singer, “You are 5,000 years old, please stay the **** out of this.”
The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) lodged complaints against Bhat at Shivaji Park police station and Bandra Kurla Complex police station. Sanjay Khopkar, vice president, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), who filed the complaint at Shivaji Park, said, “Bharat Ratnas Sachin Tendulkar and Lata Mangeshkar have been insulted by Tanmay Bhat and we demand his immediate arrest.”
The MNS also threatened Bhat with assault. Ameya Khopkar, president of MNS Chitrapat Sena, the party’s cultural wing, said, “Apologies won’t do, these people should be caught on the road and beaten up. We will protest and he won’t be able to come out on the road. We won’t let his shows happen anymore.”