“We had voted you in to do a good job in politics. But you have taken over our job”: stand-up comic Kunal Kamra recounts an encounter with a politician at an airport, who had asked him to stay away from taking digs at the ruling party during his shows.
Kamra pulls no punches, be it in front of a mike or on social media, where he is followed by millions of young Indians. While his list of admirers have only grown since getting on to YouTube in 2017, Kamra is often on the receiving end of violent threats. Earlier this year, one of his shows – scheduled to be held in Gujarat’s Surat – was cancelled after a few fringe elements threatened to disrupt it.
Mumbai-based Kamra’s sketches weren’t as politically loaded during his early days as a performer. But the journalist Gauri Lankesh’s brutal murder and the suicide of Rohith Vemula, the PhD scholar from the University of Hyderabad, changed Kamra’s approach.
Kamra’s memes, often taking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, and compromised journalists, have got a fan following of their own. Kamra shows his serious side in his own talk show, where he picks the brains of politicians, actors, and journalists over such themes as fascism, the right to dissent and online propaganda.
Kamra and fellow stand-up comic Varun Grover have been active participants during the ongoing protests against the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens.
Read all the articles in the Art of Resistance series here.