Another week, another police complaint against a standup comic. This time it’s a petrol pump owner in Rajasthan’s Sriganganar who has filed a complaint against comedian Shyam Rangeela, for a video shot at the pump in which he imitates Narendra Modi and mocks the rising fuel prices. Released online on 16 February, the video has already racked up almost 2 million views on YouTube and over 860,000 views on Twitter.
Rangeela adopts Modi’s signature rhetorical flourishes in the video, as he celebrates the ‘achievement’ of petrol prices touching 100 rupees. “Bhaiyon behenon, azad Bharat ke itihas mein aaj tak aisi koi sarkar nahin aayi thi jo petrol ko uski asli keemat dila paye (Brothers and sisters, no government in the history of free India till today has been able to get petrol its real value),” he says. “Petrol ko uska haq humne dilaya (We gave petrol its rights back).”
Three days later, petrol pump owner Surendra Agarwal filed the complaint at Sadar police station, apparently under extreme pressure from the company that supplies him petrol and diesel, according to Siasat Daily. He claimed that Rangeela had identified himself as a journalist and only taken permission for a photograph, not a video.
In response, Rangeela released another video on Saturday addressing the FIR. He explained that he had taken the appropriate permissions from Agarwal before shooting the video. Rangeela also claimed that the owner told him that his supply of petrol has been stopped and received threats that the pump’s license might be cancelled.
Rangeela also offered to apologise to the petrol pump owner for causing any trouble, but refused to apologise for the content of the video. “If the petrol pump owner has faced—or will face—problems because of my video, then I will apologise for that,” he said in conclusion. “But I cannot apologise for making the video, and nor can I delete it.”