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Munawar Faruqui On Being In ‘Lock Upp’ With Kangana Ranaut

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After quite a tumultuous 2021, Munawar Faruqui finds himself behind bars again, this time for a TV show. Faruqui is a participant on Lock Upp, a new reality television show hosted by Kangana Ranaut. Modelled on Bigg Boss, the show will put celebrities in prison-like conditions and subject them to humiliation from Ranaut.

Faruqui was arrested and jailed for 37 days in January 2021 for allegedly “hurting religious sentiments” during a show in Indore, and has tweeted criticism of Ranaut in the past, so fans were surprised at this unlikely collaboration. DeadAnt caught up with Faruqui to talk about Lock Upp and the obstacles in his path back to the comedy stage.

What made you think this show was a good idea?

In the initial stage I didn’t know who was going to host the show and all but slowly you learn more about the show and it gets interesting. I mean, even now there’s a lot of details about the show that I found out in the promo. We don’t know what will happen later on in the show… so it definitely is exciting. And it’s different. Sometimes you’re in a zone where you feel like you want to do something different for a little while. Even we don’t even know what happens in the show. We know as much as you know about it.

Did you interact with Kangana Ranaut at all?

No, not even with the other contestants.

There’s been a lot of debate on, where else, social media about your decision to do go on this show. There are your supporters who are saying that with all your shows getting cancelled, what other choice do you have? And there is the criticism, people are calling you a sellout, and feeling betrayed because this is not what they supported you for. Would you like to address this?

Now that’s the show format and they thought they should take me. They offered and I’m doing it. There’s nothing insensitive about it. It would’ve been insensitive for me if I myself felt bad about being offered a spot on the show and I’m offended like “my trauma has returned because you’ve offered me this show.” So I’m the one who can get offended by this decision. If I myself am not feeling offended, agar teli ka hi tel nahin jal raha (if an oil merchant’s oil doesn’t burn), then I don’t think anyone else should have a problem with it… It’s like chill, it’s a reality show and production is someone else’s. The person you’re talking about, it’s not their show, the production is someone else’s. Just because my ideas and opinions don’t match with someone else doesn’t mean that I leave my work.

So did you take this on because shows are getting cancelled and you had no other option?

That’s not the reason, that can’t be the reason, but these things happen for small-small reasons. Work has to be done. Whatever work becomes available, you have to do it. I don’t want to do illegal work. I don’t want to do anything wrong, you understand? And is it an injustice to work on this show? It’s not injustice, right? It’s a normal thing. So why are you putting so much pressure on one person’s shoulders? Don’t make me feel like you voted for me, like you made me win an election and made me the prime minister. Don’t make me feel that.

You supported me during an injustice, thank you so much for that, I really appreciate that. And stand against every injustice just like that. You’re doing the right thing if you stand against injustice. But if I do something wrong, something cruel, then don’t support me, speak against me. Even now I know they love me, they like me, they like my personality… so they’re upset with the show I’m going on, they’re not upset with me. I think even if they’re a little hurt, then yaar they’re hurt because they love me, so I respect that. It’s okay, they’ll understand, very quickly.

Since you haven’t seen what the final show looks like, what are you most nervous about?

I don’t know anything. I don’t get nervous about anything. It’s like I’m going, I don’t know what will happen over there—good, bad, I don’t know. But I’m not nervous.

What are you hoping the show will do for you?

No, I’m not doing this with any hope or expectation. It’s just that there’s a big platform that has an audience, who has a reach and I’m going to be there 24/7. So I have a chance to entertain the audience and yeah, have fun!

What about standup? Are you managing to perform live at all?

They’re allowing me to do it in some places. I’ve done a few shows. Even if I put up a show, they threaten the organisers and I don’t want to be in the news for that thing again and again. So I’m avoiding putting shows. It’s ready, I have three hours—two different shows 1.5 hours each—so I have that. Let’s see.

A quick message for your fans—those who are cheering for you and those that are saying “bhai, tu kya kar raha hai?”

I’ll just say you followed or subscribed to Munawar Faruqui for some things and that’s what you’ll get.

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