What Pranesh Gautam’s arrest means in the long run?

Let’s face it – meme pages like Meme Nepal, Routine of Nepal Bandha are exactly not our favourite – while their meme content (except their racist, homophobic, and sexist posts) are funny at times, our concern was with the way they approached news and current affairs, and the increasing dependence of Nepali youth on such outlets. Their content, a short update on current developments either work towards evoking pride through nationalism, promote populist ideas, and are ridiculously short, therefore not portraying a complete picture. Our criticism is that, collectively, these pages inhibit critical thinking.

Nevertheless, it does not necessarily mean you prevent them from disseminating content – unless their actions are illegal.

Recently, that has happened, and a voice (Aawaaj) needs to be raised.

On May 22, Pranesh Gautam in association with Meme Nepal released a video review of popular Nepali film Bir Bikram 2. Taking a satirical approach, he criticises the film left, center, and right, going to the extent of saying ‘the film should not have been made’. Gautam criticises the director, the lead actor, basically everything about the movie.

Naturally, the director, Milan Chams took offence. He went to the police and booked the page (Meme Nepal) and the content producer (Gautam) – the video was taken down. On Friday, June 7th, two arrests were made under the Electronic Transactions Act, Pranesh Gautam and Aadarsh Mishra. Although released, the reason for their arrests has not been made clear – perhaps the director said he was defamed.

The arrest was picked up by several media outlets, and subsequently netizens started expressing solidarity – #freedomofexpression, silence of the #filmindustry, #policebullying, being a few.

However, the damage has been done. In Nepal, we do not like run-ins with the police, especially the youth. For future video movie reviewers, this incident has proven an example – it has instilled a fear in their minds. The police will interfere, legal cases be filed, our family be involved. For most parents who will probably have to fund the legal battle, the case will be a nuisance, and we will be discouraged. The trend which would have picked up if he hadn’t been booked, has been killed before taking off. We will have to resort to conventional articles on mainstream media, something which the youth do not associate with as much as satirical videos.

Therefore, in the long run, the damage has already been done, and probably impossible to rectify. Too bad, ain’t it?.

Watch the video here: 

Note: We haven’t watched the movie, therefore reserve our opinions on it. 

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