It was around noon on Friday, 19 August, when a video surfaced on social media where T Raja Singh, the BJP MLA from Goshamahal in Hyderabad, was seen surrounded by the police as he tried to get past them.
The police said he had been arrested, the move coming a day ahead of a performance by stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui in the city.
Singh had, after all, threatened to burn the stage where Faruqui was going to perform.
In the end, no unwarranted event occurred when Faruqui performed in Hyderabad on Saturday.
The security arrangements made by the Telangana Police, coordinating both with Hyderabad Commissionerate and the Cyberabad Commissionerate, ensured that.
And as things would have it, the show turned out to be a tepid affair as well.
The audience, who waited for hours in line to get into the venue, were expecting that Faruqui would crack jokes about the situation in which he had arrived in Hyderabad. They were disappointed.
No political jokes
Munawar made a lot of jokes on the stage at the Shilpa Kala Vedika in Madhapur on Saturday, but seemed cautious.
Thank you Hyderbad ❤️ ki public for your love.
— munawar faruqui (@munawar0018) August 21, 2022
“I risked my life to come here,” said Faruqui, while telling the audience that he was not going to crack political or religious jokes.
“In this political climate, where he has been threatened every day by politicians and by the general public, we were expecting him to talk at least a little bit about politics. Most of his jokes revolved around the Muslim identity, Muslim marriages, and family,” an audience member told South First on condition of anonymity.
“He could have cracked one or two jokes about politics. There was not a moment where we felt like he had targeted any politician or community. His past record, where he spoke about political parties and a community… This time, he didn’t even try to touch that line,” said Mohammed Ismail, a resident of Falaknuma.
Ismail added that he was not Kunal Kamra, Varun Grover, or Vir Das, who could make political jokes easily.
“They have their own security. In the US, comedians on late-night shows always make fun of politicians, and hold them accountable for their wrongdoing. Here, we can’t expect anyone to make such jokes in any politician’s name. In India, they will be put behind the bars. That’s the disappointment while attending Munawar’s show,” he said.
Umar Javed, who attended the show, told South First that the crowd was expecting Faruqui to make political jokes, “but we also have to understand the scenario where we all support free speech, he could have said it, but there are chances that someone would record what he was saying”.
No one in Hyderabad would file any complaint, but somewhere in Uttar Pradesh there would be an FIR against him for these jokes, explained Javed.
“I think we have lost his political side because of the fear the present political climate puts upon us,” said Javed
Nevertheless, the audience seemed happy with the overall performance.
“Him not making any political jokes is something I thought might change my opinion towards him. But at the end of the day, he is a comedian and not an activist. So as long as his jokes are funny, he has done his job. He really excels at that. His comic timing is something very few had. I think he does crack a few political jokes here and there, maybe a bit subtly because our community and society is itself very political,” said a Twitter user with the handle ChandlerFaruqui told South First.