Now, Kumar Vishwas jibe at Kerala nurses
Malini Nair,TNN | Jan 21, 2014, 04.41 AM IST
The leader, who is set to challenge Rahul Gandhi in Amethi, stars in a 23 minute Youtube clip where the audience is in splits over his profiling: “Pehle jab aadmi bimar padhta tha bechara purush to jata tha haspatal mein toh tassali rakhta tha. Pehle narsein jo thee Keral se aati thi, kaali peeli si. Toh moonh se ‘sister’ nikalta tha. Andar se aavaz nikalti thi ki ‘Allah, sister hi ho!’ Bahut saari ladkiyan profile pe photo lagati hi nahi, ki pata nahin kya ho jaye. Ab aaj kal to nurse bhi north India ki aane lagi, ekdum bilkul shandar (Earlier men were comfortable with nurses because they came only from Kerala. They were dark so the men were happy to call them ‘sister’ and no more. Many of these girls wouldn’t even put up their profile photos. Now there are north Indian nurses, absolutely glamorous.)”
Kumar Vishwas’s own channel on Youtube has been scrubbed clean of the politically incorrect follies of his earlier life as an entertainer but helpful souls have dredged them and floated them on cyberspace, reinforcing his image as a crude humourist. Over the last few days, he has just managed to apologise his way through an earlier video where he holds a fawning NRI audience entranced with mindless cracks about nagging women and their spendthrift ways, transgenders, and Shoaib Mallik. Then there was the one that offended Muslims with references about Muharram.
The massive nursing community from Kerala is not amused. A majority of nurses in India come from the state and are known for their professionalism and courage to travel anywhere for work. “We don’t look at the skin colour of those we serve in hospitals. The two Kottayam nurses who died saving eight patients at AMRI hospital in Kolkata two years ago weren’t looking for dark or fair patients. Caricaturing a community given to service is crass,” says Jasminsha, who heads the association which says it is suing Vishwas for his remarks and planning an open letter to AAP leader and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Vishwas, who is doing intensive campaigning for AAP in Amethi, wasn’t available for comment. In his defence, AAP leaders have said that it is a two-year old video and should be seen in the light of the fact that he was playing to the gallery. “He was a bard and in a lot of these videos he is trying to raise a laugh. If it is objectionable he should be censured. Remember that this is a party of men and women from diverse backgrounds and upbringing, not all of whom are sensitized to gender or other issues. They need to be asked to watch carefully for comments that can be abrasive,” says Kamal Mitra Chenoy, former CPI member who just joined AAP.
Till not very long ago, gags like these would be passed off with a laugh. Community and gender stereotyping was a standard tool in trade of a lot of comic poets such as Surendra Sharma. ‘South Indians‘ with bootpolish on their faces, exaggerated gestures and buffoonish accents always made for great funny interludes. But times have changed as Euphoria band leader Palash Sen realized to his shock when he made off-hand remarks about women at Mood Indigo recently. And if you are a leader looking to become a suave public figure, some topics can be a landmine.
That Vishwas was not an aspiring politician on the national stage two years ago doesn’t pacify his critics. Nor the argument that they need to lighten up. “You can’t be one man as a poet and another as a politician. We aren’t talking of his last life. These videos show his mentality and that he has been consistently offensive in his use of humour about Muslims, transgenders and now this,” says lawyer Kamayani Bali Mahabal, whose online forum kractivist.org hosted the video a couple of days ago.
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