Stand-up comics in India are easy targets when it comes to misplaced outrage, asinine threats and intimidation. From bigwigs like All India Bakchod, which offended many different outfits with its “roast”, to Kunal Kamra, whose views on demonetisation and BJP have earned him targeted harassment (the latter's landlady asked him to vacate her flat over "political issues coming up"). The latest victim of offended sensibilities, 29-year-old Rahul Subramanian, has been met with consequences that are in equal parts strange, ludicrous and infuriating.
29-year-old Rahul Subramanian, who rose to fame in 2015 after he and comedian Kumar Varun won the YouTube Comedy Hunt with their channel “Random Chikibum”, has since been a regular face on several AIB videos and the stand-up circuit.
Recently, Subramanian’s stand-up special, Kal Main Udega, was released on Amazon Prime. The problem began with one fairly harmless bit in which Subramanian made fun of disc jockeys or DJs. The act lasts little more than four minutes, and contains generic jokes on DJs — but in India, that is enough to anger all members of the profession.
The wrath of the DJs came in the form of social media outrage, comments, expletives and in-person threats. Not only was he attacked with abuse on mail and in comments, he was also threatened by a group of DJs who landed up at a venue where Subramanian was performing.
“I was performing in Gurgaon and I was informed that there were some people waiting for me outside the venue, one of them being a guy who had apparently threatened to beat me up if he ever met me (of course after a handshake and a couple of drinks),” he wrote on Facebook.
Things have only got worse since.
According to the Indian Express, organisers of the Pune Comedy Festival, held from March 30 to April 1, cancelled Subramanian’s act. The comedy fest that included industry stalwarts like Zakir Khan, Atul Khatri, Kanan Gill, Sumukhi Suresh and Abish Matthew, informed the audience that Subramanian’s act was cancelled because of “security concerns”.
Avinash Agarwal, the master franchisee of The Classic Rock Coffee Co explained to the crowd, “Many of you are aware of the threat from DJs that he received. We were forced to cancel his performance owing to security concerns and to avoid any disruption to this event,” adding that he was disappointed with the state of affairs.
In a recent interview with Film Companion, Subramanian said, “If I say something that’s stupid because I’m not well informed enough, I don’t mind learning it the hard way. I don’t want to write keeping guidelines or rules in mind.”
Whatever he had on his mind when he said this, it was definitely not getting harassed by a motley bunch of humourless disc jockeys who could not stand a stand-up comic proclaiming “I hate DJs”.