In a rapidly-escalating controversy, the Mumbai Police today wrote to YouTube and Facebook asking them to block a Snapchat video posted by comedian Tanmay Bhat on May 26, mimicking singer Lala Mangeshkar and cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, after a complaint was filed against him following a backlash.
"The Mumbai police is in the process of getting the transcript, upon which a legal opinion will be sought, we have written to YouTube and Facebook to block the video," Sangramsinh Nishandar, PRO, Mumbai Police, said.
The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party have both filed police complaints against Bhat. Shalini Thackeray, spokesperson for the MNS, said Bhat should be prosecuted for the video. "You cannot pass off anything as humour, especially about people who made us proud," referring to Mangeshkar and Tendulkar, both of whom have been awarded the Bharat Ratn, India's highest civilian award.
Chitra Wagh of the Nationalist Congress Party said just asking for forgiveness wasn't enough, and called for Bhat's arrest.
Bhat enacted an imaginary conversation between Tendulkar and Mangeshkar in the video titled "Sachin vs Lata Civil War", mimicking the voices of both, and cracked jokes, several of them at the 86-year-old singing legend's appearance. A massive outcry followed the video with fans of both legends holding the view that the comedian, who was in the hot waters last year for a roast of Bollywood celebrities that had to be taken offline, had gone too far and insulted two legends who have made the country proud.
An active debate is also raging online about what is off limits for comedy, with actor Anupam Kher calling the video disgusting.
Raj Thackeray's MNS has also threatened to beat Bhat up. Shiv Sena has also asked Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to take action against AIB and Bhat.
Despite Bhat's disclaimer -- "I make such nonsense on my Snapchat" -- the video has ruffled the feathers of many even within the entertainment industry.
Kher and Riteish Deshmukh tweeted out their displeasure.
Am absolutely shocked. Disrespect is not cool and neither is it funny. https://t.co/ymYPi9hxuv— Riteish Deshmukh (@Riteishd) May 28, 2016
However, Bhat had some support from comedians.
"We're a nation of trigger happy outragers with a lot of free time and an internet connection. I think after a while someone will figure out how to monetise offence and then it will become a legitimate industry," comedian Daniel Fernandes wrote for Firstpost.
The comedy collective, seen as the pioneers of Internet age standup, have tackled sticky issues in the past and have a huge following online. They recently schooled those who say they do not believe in feminism.