Comedian Kunal Kamra: ‘What I did was an act of resistance’

Comedian speaks to Al Jazeera after he was banned by Indian airlines for heckling pro-gov’t presenter Arnab Goswami.

An Indian stand-up comedian, who recently faced a flight ban for confronting a pro-government TV presenter, told Al Jazeera he does not regret his actions.

“When you get a chance like this, if you do not confront him and try to tell him that what he’s doing is really causing damage … I wanted to actually genuinely have a good conversation with him … and then I did exactly what a Republic TV journalist would do, I pointed my camera, I shot it and I put it up,” Kunal Kamra told Al Jazeera in Doha.

Kamra, 30, was slapped with a flight ban by four Indian airlines after he berated anchor and journalist Arnab Goswami on board a plane during which he asked the senior journalist if he was “a coward or a nationalist”.

Goswami, the head of India’s Republic TV, is known for shouting at his guests on live TV. The 46-year-old journalist has even called for war against India’s neighbour, Pakistan.

Kamra has used his edgy humour to criticise government policies but he insists he is bipartisan and does not favour any Indian political party.

He has often lampooned Rahul Gandhi, leader of the opposition Congress party, during his shows.

The comedian has more than 900,000 followers on Twitter and has used his handle to express his anti-establishment views, while millions watch his YouTube show Shut Up Ya Kunal, which he started in 2017.

Has he emerged as the poster boy of free speech in India?

“I am uncomfortable with the idea of poster boy. I speak from the heart. I do not take the responsibility of being an alternate media. I am still an artist deeply rooted in the art form,” he told Al Jazeera.

“Fighting the establishment is my side profession.”

Al Jazeera’s Saif Khalid and Sorin Furcoi spoke to Kamra in Doha while he was visiting the Qatari capital for his show

Source: Al Jazeera