Stand-up Comedian Vir Das on life before during and after lockdown

Vir Das as we know him, is an exceptional stand-up comedian, fearless funny and scathing. In his new feature-film for Netflix entitled Hasmukh Vir plays a bad stand comedian

Photo courtesy: Facebook/Vir Das
Photo courtesy: Facebook/Vir Das
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Subhash K Jha

Vir Das as we know him, is an exceptional stand-up comedian, fearless funny and scathing. In his new feature-film for Netflix entitled Hasmukh Vir plays a bad stand comedian.

I wonder how difficult is it for a good stand-up comedian to play a bad one?

Vir laughs, “Good and bad are relative terms.But yes, playing a stand-up who is opposite to what I am, was tough. I knew Hasmukh had to be intentionally different from me. He had to crack bad jokes , cringy pati-patni jokes that I don’t crack. It was difficult to write those because I don’t belong to that very small wedding-entertainment belt in Uttar Pradesh.

What was really really important, was to not play him smart. Even if Hasmukh was anywhere near to what I am people would not believe I was Hasmukh. Then it would have been just Vir Das playing Vir Das which is why I made sure I went into a diametrically opposite direction to who I am.Writing cringy material was not easy for me.”

Hasmukh gets a creative stimulus from killing people.What is Vir Das’ big turn-on ? “Well, like Hasmukh it is the belt, though I don’t use it to kill people. But I’ve worn the same belt from the age of 21, that’s for 19 years now. That belt has followed me from theatre to stand-up comedy to films. I also listen to a particular piece of music before I go on stage. And during that time when I go on stage and the audience is screaming my name I think of my mother, father wife and bulldog. I feel reminding yourself of the fact that you are what you are because of the people in your life, keeps you rooted and humble on stage and endears you to the audience.”

Vir is known to be a fearless commentator on socio-political issues. He feels he isn’t alone on his endeavour to tell it like it is. “ But because I am a small fish in the public eye I get some attention.I am not saying something others are not. I have been brought up in a family where we were encouraged to ask questions about governance, knowledge and just about anything under the sky. My opinions get emphasized on the social media. And they find their way into my stand-up comedy. I think the basis of comedy is that two people can disagree and still laugh about it under the same roof.I’ve been doing this for ten years.”

Vir shares an easy relationship with his creativity. “I let my art do all the talking. I sometimes feel the art I put out is smarter than me because of the people I get to collaborate with.As you do this longer and longer you may not get better or funnier, but you are certainly able to access your emotions better. The material in your art becomes more liberated because you know who you are.”

Vir is currently enjoying his lockdown period. “I’ve been a circus performer for the past decade, travelling seven months a year. So I’ve never had this kind of time at home.So it’s nice to have this pause. So far I’ve been regurgitating output for the past decade now I’ve time to ingest content. And I had really been ignoring the digital platform. So far I had done some stand-up on Netflix. But never played the YouTube or the Instagram game. I am just taking time off to put up some uplifting feel good content on those two platforms.”

For the lockdown entertainment seekers Vir has daily treat. “I set up a show on zoom every night where I work way my backward through the day.It’s a 90-minute daily show with tickets sold and the proceeds going to various charities and causes, like Helpage, migrant workers, children with cancer.”

Vir feel the lockdown is the best thing that could have happened to contain the virus. “Absolutely I feel our central government and state ministers have done a really good job. Every country is marching to its own beat in this Corona crisis. India too is doing its own thing and the Government decided in the lockdown at the right time.But I would love to see more testing kits and better relief packages.”

Vir’s future projects? “Well I was going to be doing world tour that got postponed for until Corona calms down.Then I’ve a romcom that I look forward to shooting and an American show in development starring me. My company Weirdass Productions where I am creative director is producing two shows that I am not even in .One is a Punjabi comedy and the other is an all-women’s comedy. I am excited about being both a content creator and an artiste.”

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