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'I've been a circus performer for the past decade'

By SUBHASH K JHA
Last updated on: May 16, 2020 17:11 IST
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For the lockdown entertainment seekers, Vir Das has a 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.'

Photograph: Kind courtesy Vir Das/Instagram

How difficult is it for a good stand-up comedian to play a bad one?

Vir Das, who does that in his Web series Hasmukh answers with a laugh.

"Good and bad are relative terms," he tells Subhash K Jha.

"But yes, playing a stand-up who is the opposite to what I am, was tough. I knew Hasmukh had to be intentionally different from me. He had to crack bad jokes pati-patni jokes that I don't crack."

"It was difficult to write those because I don't belong to that small wedding-entertainment belt in Uttar Pradesh. What was really, really, important was to not play him smart," says Vir.

"Even if Hasmukh was anywhere near 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's 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 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."

IMAGE: Vir Das, left, with Ranvir Sheorey, centre, and Inaamulhaq in Hasmukh, currently streaming on Netflix. Photograph: Kind courtesy Vir Das/Instagram

Vir is known to be a fearless commentator on socio-political issues.

He feels he is not 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 emphasised on 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 10 years."

Vir shares an easy relationship with his creativity.

"I let my art do all the talking," he says.

"Sometimes, I feel the art I put out is smarter than me because of the people I get to collaborate with. As you do this longer, you may not get better or funnier but you can certainly access your emotions better."

"The material in your art becomes more liberated because you know who you are."

 

Vir is enjoying the lockdown.

"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 have 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 Instagram game. I am taking time off to put up some uplifting feelgood content on those two platforms."

For the lockdown entertainment seekers, Vir has a 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."

"I was going to be going on a world tour, but that got postponed for until this (outbreak) calms down. Then I have 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 a content creator and an artiste."

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