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Stand-up Comedian Vir Das On Life Before During & After Lockdown

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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.”

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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.”

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 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  feelgood  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.”

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Vir feel  the lockdown   is  the  best thing that coud 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.”