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Laughing Matters: Comedy and Free Speech in India

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Photo of Bhakthi Puvanenthiran, Daniel Fernandes, Neeti Palta and Sapan Verma

Bhakthi Puvanenthiran, Daniel Fernandes, Neeti Palta and Sapan Verma

‘This is EIC Outrage, where we talk about issues … and hope to not get assassinated’. That’s how comedian Sapan Verma chose to introduce one episode of his popular Outrage East India Comedy YouTube series.

India’s comedy scene is currently enjoying a moment; it’s a space of seemingly unpoliced free expression within a conservative culture and an environment of tightening media censorship. Stand-up comedy is where many of the sharpest Indian voices are commenting on social issues as they find humour in subjects as diverse as Bollywood, terrorism, Tinder, feminism, international cricket, youth suicide and Game of Thrones.

As part of the 2017 Melbourne International Comedy Festival, some of the brightest stars of Indian comedy, including Daniel Fernandes, Neeti Palta and Sapan Verma, performed in Australia. In this panel discussion, the three talk stand-up, censorship and how comedy might change the world with Bhakthi Puvanenthiran.

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