The creators of Netflix’s new murder comedy Hasmukh can breathe a sigh of relief, as the Delhi High Court dismissed a plea for an interim injunction against the show on Tuesday. The plea was a part of the petition filed against the show —starring and co-written by Vir Das— by two Delhi High Court lawyers who claimed that the series maligned the legal profession.
The Court observed that the “very essence of democracy is that a creative artist is given the liberty to project the picture of the society in a manner he perceives”, as it dismissed the plea for an interim ban. “One of the prime forms of exposing the ills of the society is by portraying a satirical picture of the same,” said Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva in the order. “Stand-up comedians perform that very purpose. In their portrayal, they use satire and exaggerate the ills to an extent that it becomes a ridicule.”
The case revolves around episode 4 of the season, in which the protagonist — a small-town comedian with a side gig in murder— refers to lawyers as “thieves, scoundrels, goons” and even “rapists.” According to the legal notice sent by the two complainants to the creators of Hasmukh, quoted in an article on legal website BarAndBench, the statements were claimed to be “highly defamatory” and aimed at “causing utmost damage to legal profession and impugn the image of lawyers in the eyes of millions of viewers/subscribers…”
A very relieved Vir Das took to social media yesterday to thank the High Court for “their support.” In his statement, he also claimed that the show had become the subject of “close to 10 legal notices,” a lawsuit, as well as down-voting campaigns on IMDB organised by political pages.
“Fair game,” the statement continued. “As artists we are taught to accept feedback humbly, and I do so knowing that my work always has, and will polarise people. But if we can accept that these actions go a little beyond feedback, I hope I’ve earned the right to respectfully respond. I have spent a decade of my life trying to make this country laugh. I certainly haven’t always succeeded, but I have heard enough laughter and seen enough happy people to know that comedy, of all genres, does more good than harm. Offence is taken, not given.”
The main petition seeking a permanent ban on the airing of the show is still pending, and has been listed for hearing in July.