Indian comedian faces backlash for video mocking celebrities

NEW DELHI (AP) — Police in India have asked Facebook and YouTube to remove a video posted by a comedian that mocks a legendary Indian singer and a cricket player.

Comedian Tanmay Bhat posted a Snapchat video last week using the app’s face swap feature to impersonate cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and singer Lata Mangeshkar and show them arguing with each other.

The expletive- and rant-laden video has Tendulkar telling the 86-year-old singer that she is “5,000 years old” and should die after she says another cricketer is better than he is.

The 43-year-old cricketer retired from the sport in 2013 but still enjoys a demi-god-like status. Mangeshkar is arguably India’s most famous singer, having given her voice to thousands of Bollywood songs in a career that has spanned more than six decades.

Neither celebrity has commented on the video or the angry response it prompted.

Several rightwing political groups and several actors suggested that Bhat be arrested for the disrespect he showed to national legends. A member of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party complained to the police Monday. However, the video could still be viewed on YouTube late Tuesday.

A senior Mumbai police official, Sangramsingh Nishandar, told the Press Trust of India news agency that they were investigating the matter and consulting legal experts.

Bhat is a member of the popular comedy collective All India Bakchod, which claims to push the boundaries of humor in a country where such jokes are often deemed disrespectful.

Last year the group received similar censure after it hosted a roast that was deemed vulgar because of expletives used in several of the jokes. Earlier this year another comedian was briefly arrested after he made fun of a religious leader.

Bhat has found several supporters among the storm of criticism.

Actress Sonam Kapoor tweeted “Don’t you guys think there are issues that are more important than @thetanmay snapchat jokes??? I’m in shock with this over reaction!”

Bhat himself simply tweeted, “Please pay me @Snapchat.”

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