On Wednesday, June 23, Kunal Kamra made his way through yet another controversy when he turned "an enormously popular comedian" columnist for The New York Times and published an opinion piece on the Indian government's failed attempt at saving its citizens during the pandemic.

The six-minute video titled "Modi Caused a Covid Massacre," according to the NYTimes Youtube page, accuses the nation's leadership, especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi, of putting political vanity before "common sense" and opening the door to a devastating resurgence of coronavirus infections that have devastated the country.

Kamra, who went on to flaunt the new feather in his cap on his Twitter handle, fell victim to yet another set of abusive trolls. While some appreciated his courage to speak against the government on an international medium, others wondered if he was worthy enough of sharing his one-sided views there.

Kunal Kamra
Kunal KamraTwitter

Netizens speak up after Kamra's stint

Kavita Krishnan, Secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association and a member of the politburo of the Communist Party of India shared, "Brilliant, thank you for saying this Kunal on behalf of millions of Indians."

Deeksha Negi of The Frustrated Indian, a media platform that wrote, "What's more disgusting apart from the writer's regular Modi-Hate, biased opinions and fallacies, is that NYT called Kunal Kamra a stand up comedian, that too a popular one! But let that sink in."

While Telegraph India praised Kamra's opinion piece, especially the parts where he speaks of how the Modi government botched up vaccine rollouts, supported election rallies in West Bengal and declared India COVID-free in January, OpIndia criticized Kamra as an "unknown idiot propped up on international platforms and made famous as a reward for toeing Congress line."

Kamra's journey, through comic and controversy

But controversies and 'being in news' isn't new to the 32-year-old Kamra who began his career as a stand-up comedian at Mumbai's Canvas Laugh Club in 2013.

Kunal Kamra
Kunal KamraTwitter

The year 2017 can be called Kamra's year for he allegedly became famous by getting death threats for his satirical take on Indian hyper-nationalism and demonetization. According to Livemint who called Kamra, an accidental revolutionary back in 2018, "Kunal Kamra's first-ever stand-up clip landed on YouTube a year ago. He started receiving death threats within 10 days. The 8-minute clip, Patriotism & the Government, revolved around the now-viral punchline, "Siachen mein hamaare jawaan lad rahe hain," a zinger that pokes fun at the hyper-nationalist Indian who invokes the army as a defence for the government's shortcomings."

In the same year, his podcast Shut Up Ya Kunal went on to feature one-on-one interviews with political figures, student leaders and elected MLAs, grabbing much attention from politics and religion-hungry nation. Kavita Krishnan who supported Kamra's views in the NYTimes was also one of the candidates on his talk show.

In 2018, Kamra who dropped out of college to work in the field of advertising and later to comedy, took to his Facebook account then to share that he was asked to vacate his Mumbai house due to his political commentary. In his long post that was also partially an advertisement looking for a new home began with, "As a comedian having a political opinion comes at a cost. Perhaps, you are thinking 'What is the big deal in making fun of people in power?'…But there are consequences" and ended with, "I'm looking for a 1 BHK in Shivaji Park. Lemme know if anyone knows of anything available!"

Kamra managed to lay low for two years until 2020 where he resurfaced with yet another controversy; this time he chose to extend an open, mid-air invitation to news anchor Arnab Goswami for a debate. This mid-air "heckle" was considered an infiltration of privacy and forced Indian airlines to ban him from flying with them.

Arnab Goswami and Kunal Kamra
Arnab Goswami and Kunal Kamra

In November 2020, Kamra went on to criticize the Supreme court on his Twitter handle for granting interim bail to Arnab Goswami in an abetment to suicide case. According to an NDTV report, Attorney General KK Venugopal gave his consent to eight people who wanted to sue Kunal Kamra for criminal contempt. The report quoted the Attorney General, "It is time that people understand attacking the Supreme Court unjustifiably and brazenly will lead to punishment" and wrote that the comedian's tweets were not only in bad taste but "clearly crossed the line between humour and contempt" as per AG KK Venugopal.