It’s a risky job, being a comedian in a country full of the perpetually offended. In recent years, we’ve seen comedians face online abuse and threats as well as legal action for offending one community or other, whether its the followers of a specific political party, DJs or motorbike enthusiasts. Now the legal community has also decided to get in on the action.
According to a report on legal news website BarAndBench, Delhi-based advocates Abhishek Bhardwaj and Hardik Vashisth have sent a legal notice to Netflix India objecting to certain allegedly disparaging comments made against lawyers in an episode of the Vir Das-starring webseries Hasmukh. The duo have asked the makers of the show to remove the content they find offensive and tender an unconditional apology, or face criminal and civil proceedings over the same.
“The said statements are highly defamatory and brings disrepute to law profession in the eye of general public,” reads the notice.
To be more specific, the two lawyers have objected to Vir Das’s character – a small-town comedian with a side gig as a murderer – referring to lawyers as “thieves, scoundrels, goons” and even “rapists” during episode 4 of the show’s debut season. “The said statements are highly defamatory and brings disrepute to law profession in the eye of general public,” reads the notice. “Said statements are towards causing utmost damage to legal profession and impugn the image of lawyers in the eyes of millions of viewers/subscribers who visit the streaming website.”
Bhardwaj and Vashisth also imply that this is just the latest example of lawyers being targeted by content creators. The notice points out that the legal profession has been the subject of malicious and “ill-fated” attempts by media houses, movies, TV shows etc to portray the profession and the legal system in a bad light by making such “derogatory comments” in the guise of comedy.
It will be interesting to see if Netflix – already under pressure from the government to self-censor its content – stands by the show or if it gives in to the threat of legal action. DeadAnt reached out to Vir Das and Netflix India, but both parties declined to comment. We will update this article if that changes.