Some of the world's top leaders and entertainers have been where Sachin Tendulkar and Lata Mangeshkar are today. Of course, neither of the two has personally responded to Tanmay Bhat's comic act on video, but to many people, including the Mumbai police, the routine is no less than a violation of the criminal code.
What the people overreacting to the episode may not know, or remember: no lawsuits or FIRs were filed when other celebrities around the world were made fun of. Comedians have long earned a living making fun of politicians and presidents. The All India Bakchod, of which Bhat is a member, made a music video titled Thank you, Dear Congress for making so many faux pas and allowing so many jokes at their expense.
Take US President Barack Obama, who was called the "coolest President ever" by Jerry Seinfeld on his show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. He has been frequently impersonated on the comic sketch Key & Peele. Here is one of their most popular episodes, lampooning a young Obama in his college years.
Comedians Keegan Michael-Key and Jordan Peele were later invited to the White House and Key would later go on to become Obama's "anger translator".
Obama tipped his hat later to all his comic impersonators by putting in his own funny act, laughing at himself at the 2016 White House Correspondent's Dinner.
Admittedly, though, Obama's predecessor George Bush didn't take so kindly to people who made fun of him. Here is Stephen Colbert's roast of the man from the 2006 White House Correspondents' Dinner, with an unsuspecting Bush turning from awkward smiles to genuine discomfort.
The tradition of mocking the head of state goes back much earlier. In the 1970s and 1980s, actress and comedian Janet Brown rose to fame impersonating the "Iron Lady" Margaret Thatcher.
The field of sports has plenty of good-natured – and sometimes downright malicious – comic impersonation. Novak Djokovic, for instance, first earned (or lost, depending on where you stand) fans when videos of him imitating his fellow players became popular on YouTube. Both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were the butt of his comic acts. In fact, the backlash against these initial videos was so strong that some suggest that it's the reason that Djokovic still hasn't received the support that Nadal and Federer have, not to mention the icy off-court relationship between him and the Swiss.
Things even got awkward at an exhibition match between Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer when Sampras began imitating Agassi's duckwalk. Agassi's response? To empty out his pockets and saying he has no money (referring to Sampras's reputation of being a poor tipper). Sampras wasn't amused and aimed his next serve directly at his rival prompting Federer to comment, "Man, this rivalry is intense."
Nadal eventually learnt to take a joke and asked Djokovic to imitate him at the Rome Masters awards ceremony in 2009. Here is popular tennis impersonator Josh Berry meeting Nadal in a video titled Rafael Nadal meets Rafael Nadal?
Nor have world-famous musicians baulked at being parodied. "Weird Al" Yankovic, the popular singer-songwriter of parody songs, has made numerous cover versions of hits. Although American copyright law doesn't require him to get permission, Yankovic normally asks anyway, and says that only two to three per cent of artists turn him down.
Michael Jackson was a noted fan and granted permission to have parody versions of Beat it and Bad which became Eat it and Fat. But Yankovic didn't receive permission to make Black or White into Snack All Night because Jackson felt the message of his song was too important to be made fun of.
What rejuvenated his career was his version of Nirvana's classic Smells Like Teen Spirit. Yankovic remembers Kurt Cobain asking, "It's not gonna be about food, is it?" Yankovic said, "No, it'll be about how no one can understand your lyrics." The band members found the final video hysterical and Dave Grohl, their drummer, felt the band had finally made it.
Tendulkar has not yet commented on the video. Mangeshkar told Spotboye.com, "I have not seen the video, neither do I have any inclination to do so. I will not comment about it." About Bhat she added, "By the way, I don’t know who is Tanmay Bhat."
Censor Board Chief Pahlaj Nihalani demonstrated his usual restraint and told NDTV, "Tanmay Bhat is a repeat offender, he deserves no freedom. He should not get bail and should be booked under MCOCA." The Mumbai police has sought the advice of legal experts and will contact Google and Facebook to get the video removed. It'll be worth waiting to see who has the last laugh.