Clips of US show by Vir Das spark row, complaint filed in Delhi

At an event at the John F Kennedy Centre for Performing Arts on November 13, Das contrasted the “two Indias” he hailed from, taking on issues such as women’s safety, Covid-19, pollution and the farmer’s protest
The satirist uploaded a 6 minute 53 second video clip of his monologue on his YouTube channel on November 15, sparking a political row. (HT Archive)
The satirist uploaded a 6 minute 53 second video clip of his monologue on his YouTube channel on November 15, sparking a political row. (HT Archive)
Updated on Nov 18, 2021 12:45 AM IST
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A roughly seven-minute monologue by comedian Vir Das at an event in the United States sparked a controversy in India on Wednesday with a storm of criticism and a police complaint filed against him for allegedly insulting the country.

At an event at the John F Kennedy Centre for Performing Arts on November 13, Das contrasted the “two Indias” he hailed from, taking on issues such as women’s safety, Covid-19, pollution and the farmer’s protest.

The satirist uploaded a 6 minute 53 second video clip of his monologue on his YouTube channel on November 15, sparking a political row.

Aditya Jha, a spokesperson of the Delhi unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), filed a complaint with the Delhi Police against Das for allegedly “insulting the country” in his monologue. Delhi Police is yet to file an FIR in the case.

“There is enough evidence in the speech to show that he has insulted the country. He has made perverted comments about women in India among other topics. He talks about raping women at night. Police said they were busy in a crime review meeting today. I will follow up the status of my complaint again tomorrow (Thursday),” said Jha.

Deputy commissioner of police (New Delhi) Deepak Yadav said, “We are looking into the complaint.”

Mumbai BJP secretary Vivekanand Gupta also wrote an email to Delhi Police seeking registration of an FIR against Das, “for hurting the feelings of nationalists

In the video, Das spoke about “two Indias”, taking digs at the “duality of the citizens” “I come from an India where we worship women during the day and gang rape them at night,” Das told the packed Washington, DC venue.

As controversy swirled over his comments, Das clarified his stand. “The video is a satire about the duality of two very separate India’s that do different things. Like any nation has light and dark, good and evil within it. None of this is a secret. The video appeals for us to never forget that we are great. To never stop focusing on what makes us great...Please do not be fooled by edited excerpts... I take pride in my country and I carry that pride across the world...”

“It ends in a gigantic patriotic round of applause for a country we all love, believe in and are proud of. That there is more to our country than the headlines, a deep beauty. That’s the point of the video and the reason for the applause.”

He found backing from Trinamool Congress member Mahua Moitra as well as Congress leaders Kapil Sibal and Shashi Tharoor.

Sibal said that none can doubt that there are two Indias. “…Just that we don’t want an Indian to tell the world about it. We are intolerant and hypocritical,” he said. Tharoor praised Das as a stand-up comedian who knew the real meaning of the term “stand up” was not physical but moral.

Moitra thanked Das for speaking truth about “Two Indias”. “Reactions also from 2 Indias - one having a laugh & other filing complaints with police!” she tweeted.

But Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi hit out at Das, saying that “generalising the evils of a few individuals and vilifying the nation as a whole in front of the world is just not done”.

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Tuesday, December 07, 2021