If you see a lot of Kunal Kamra in the next few weeks, it’s because everything he’s doing seems to be riling up people in the run up to the upcoming General Election. Between campaigning for former JNU students’ union president and CPI candidate from Bihar’s Begusarai Lok Sabha seat, Kanhaiya Kumar, and Kamra’s own ongoing ‘Don’t Vote For Modi’ spoof campaign on social media, he’s on everyone’s radar.
It started on 11 April with a post on Instagram comprising a series of images featuring the comedian in some of Mumbai’s most famous spots, holding a sign with the words “Don’t Vote For Modi”. The accompanying caption read: “I’m not using your nationality or your religion to make my point, all I’m saying is #DontVoteForModi.”
On 14 April, Kunal Kamra started releasing a series of iconic and topical images with the same line Photoshopped into all of them: Don’t Vote For Modi. There was a Game of Thrones poster, there was the photo of the black hole, and one of the famous Phiroze Jeejeebhoy Towers, home of the Bombay Stock Exchange, with the stock ticker reading “Don’t Vote for Modi”.
Bhakts are gonna bhakt all the same, but this really upset the BSE, who on Friday expressed their deep disappointment and threatened Kamra with legal action for the unauthorised use of BSE building photos for “nefarious activities”.
Kamra was quick to respond with his own disappointment at the BSE:
“I was overestimating the common sense of people who have no context to the BSE or what they would do,” Kamra said when we reached out to him. “I think maybe it was a little bit irresponsible on my part. Ideally, if I do something like this it has to be a [more] obvious Photoshop job and a very obvious joke in the picture itself. So it’s a good learning for me.” Kamra explained that the photographs spread like wildfire within politically sensitive circles as though they were real, and people started to assume that the BSE had actually carried the message on its ticker. “At least by design I was not trying to propagate fake news, but if it’s gone like that, I’m sorry for it,” Kamra said.
The next day, he was still at it, but this time it was the New York Stock Exchange, and a more direct disclaimer: