Laughter challenger: Munawar Faruqui finds humour in life against all odds

Munawar Faruqui has been entertaining audiences with his satire routines for over a year. Photo: Special Arrangement/THE HINDU

Munawar Faruqui has been entertaining audiences with his satire routines for over a year. Photo: Special Arrangement/THE HINDU

The year began on a serious note for stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui, when he was arrested for allegedly offending religious sensibilities, along with five others, just before he was about to begin his act at a café in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. Munawar spent 37 days in jail until the Supreme Court granted him interim bail on February 5.

While the comedian in him does see the absurdity in the situation — “they caught me even before I said anything,” — the 27-year-old YouTube sensation is astute enough to not discuss the matter further as it is sub judice.

“I don’t want to revisit this experience ever again in my life, and I wouldn’t want to send my worst enemies to jail. But I don’t really want to talk about it, especially on social media,” he says over a video conference call from his home in Mumbai.

Munawar got back to work barely a fortnight after his ordeal, releasing a music video titled Aazmaish featuring rapper Nazz, which earned over a million views online.

“Quitting comedy was never an option, mainly because I didn’t want to prove my detractors right,” says Munawar. “I was hurt by this whole false narrative that they had started about my ‘guilt’ that would have got confirmed, if I gave in to the pressure.”

In April, he started a new YouTube channel called Munawar Faruqui 2.0 that already has over 50,000 subscribers. (His first official channel has over 10,80,000 subscribers with 57,594,259 views for his monthly video releases).

It is hard to believe that Munawar has been on the comedy scene only since January 2020. His first ticketed show opened in Mumbai in February last year, to rave reviews. His sidelong look at society and politics is sharp and funny, with unexpected depth. “Comedy is essentially saying what you feel, especially about things that you see daily,” he says. “Sometimes a joke can highlight a major truth.”

When he is not penning his biting satirical comedy routines, Munawar indulges in his other passions: Urdu poetry and rap music. “Music is the world’s best art form. A song can convey in minutes, what a story can take four hours to narrate,” he says.

A resident of Dongri in Mumbai, the comedian is originally from Junagadh in Gujarat. After a tumultuous time in their hometown, his father, a driver, shifted the family (Munawar and his three sisters) to Mumbai in 2007, to make a fresh start.

“My father fell sick and was bed-ridden from 2008, so I had to take charge from the age of 17. I worked at a utensil store from 2007, while attending school. I taught myself English and Hindi from the newspapers that my boss used to buy, and by watching films,” he says.

Becoming a stand-up comedian wasn’t easy, though. Struggling with rejections, Munawar released his first video on YouTube on January 24, 2020 titled Politics in India , that marked his breakthrough moment.

“Last year has been testing. I lost my father in February, but also got my first shows in Mumbai, the same month,” he says.”There have been days I’d be crying in the green room just before being called up to the stage.”

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Printable version | May 20, 2022 12:12:31 pm |