04/02/2015 8:36 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:24 AM IST

AIB Comedians, Facing Police Probe For 'Obscenity', Pull Out Viral Videos Of Bollywood Roast From YouTube


Facing a government probe for allegedly using ‘vulgar’ language during a show in Mumbai, India’s top comedians were forced to pull out a series of videos from YouTube last night, sparking a debate online on the threats to freedom of expression challenging artists in India.

Following their initial tweet about taking the video down, the comedy group has just followed it up with a detailed note on Twitter, claiming that no one forced them to take the video down. They also added to this saying that the AIB Knockout was their attempt to "bring a Roast format to a country where celebrities aren't often known to laugh at themselves." They have also thanked their supporters for standing by them saying "you guys make the struggle worth it."

This was their initial tweet:

A mass of tweets started pouring in, expressing solidarity with the comedians.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said his government would act against the organisers of show AIB Knockout if it had violated any law.

"If the programme was vulgar and was in violation of law, then action will be taken against the organisers," Fadnavis told reporters in Kolhapur.

The AIB Knockout, a roast featuring actors Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh, hosted by filmmaker Karan Johar and organised by AIB in December 2014 at Worli in south-central Mumbai went viral after the group released three videos on YouTube.

The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena had threatened to stop films of Johar, Kapoor and Singh from releasing in the state unless they tendered an "unconditional apology" for participating in the controversial show.

Amey Khopkar, President of the MNS film wing, said the organisers of the AIB Knockout too must tender unconditional apology. He also demanded that the state government should ban such programmes from being organised.

Maharashtra Culture Minister Vinod Tawde said the government did not intend to do any "moral policing."

"On #AIBRoast, will only enquire if the AIB had taken appropriate certificate. No moral policing... if they are allowed by law, I can't stop them," Tawde tweeted.

Tawde had told reporters that "officials of the Culture Department will examine the (AIB show) videos for the content. If found vulgar, an action will be initiated."

According to a written complaint by Akhilesh Tiwari, president of Brahman Ekta Seva Sanstha in Mumbai, filed at Sakinaka police station, Johar, Singh and Kapoor, along with other performers, had allegedly passed abusive and offensive remarks against one another and at the audience.

Opposition Leader in Maharashtra Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde also demanded a criminal case against the producers, organisers and actors.

"A criminal case should be immediately registered against the producers, organisers and actors for the offensive language used in the 'AIB Knockout' comedy show," Munde told reporters here. Mumbai Police have also initiated an inquiry.

Johar had to say this:

The support for AIB:

(With inputs from agencies)