In a country like India, where taking offence is a national pastime, how political can the comic scene be? Is it okay to make jokes on politicians and their politics, or is everyone too scared of Jaya Bachchan?
We sent email questionnaires to India’s leading comics and satirist to get answers to these questions. We also asked them to rate themselves on our liberal-conservative scale.
Next on our series is Anandeshwar Dwivedi. One of the brains behind The Viral Fever’s creative team, Anand plays “Lleo” on the web series, “The Permanent Roommates”. The show was the third most-watched long-form web series on YouTube in 2014. Apart from that, he also features in various video sketches of TVF.
How political is comedy in India?
Comedy in India is not very political, especially mainstream comedy. Maybe it is because of the fear of political establishments or lack of political awareness. But I believe that most content creators try and avoid taking any political stand on purpose due to a fear of backlash.
We do not have a John Oliver. However, some comedians like the late Jaspal Bhatti did very strong political and social satire for mainstream entertainment. The recent ban [that was later revoked] on sites like CollegeHumor and so on put all content creators under a lot of pressure.
How important is it for comedy to be political?
It’s not necessary for a comedian to be political. Comedians like Raju Shrivastava and Jerry Seinfeld have proven that.
We know there is a large number of liberal comics (writers and performers) in India. But are there any conservative comics in the country? If yes, please name a few.
Not to my knowledge.
Where would you place yourself on our liberal–conservative scale?
While doing comedy, I keep it as liberal as I can. Being conservative would make certain things sacred for you and as a content creator, I believe, either everything is sacred or nothing is. However, that does come with a certain sense of responsibility. I am a 0. Liberal to the extent of offending the conservatives.