Free Press Journal

Up, close & funny… with Vir Das


He sets the stage ablaze when he holds that microphone to jibe, leaving everyone in splits all the time. PRATISHTHA MALHOTRA chats up with Vir Das about his upcoming festival which is right around the corner and his upcoming releases in this year. 

Everyone is always excited when you get on stage to start with your quips. Now that your festival is right here, tell us something about it.

n The domestic market is in that phase where there is a lot more supply than there is demand. There are a lot of comedians but not enough people to go and see them. So for me the challenge is always, how do you give people something new because it is still the same hundred people in the comedy market and you have seen them x number of times and those hundred people don’t generate content as fast as I do. So it is about creating new concepts and this year we are doing a tribute to Johny Lever, which is really cool. To me, he is the original pioneer of Indian stand up. Anupam Kher, Vijay Raaz, Rajpal (Yadav), Suresh, myself, Kunal Roy Kapoor, maybe Boman (Irani), Vinay Pathak, Ranveer Shourie…all the Bollywood’s funny men are getting together to pay tribute to Johny Lever. Apart from that, there is my new show Unbelievablish which is basically about telling lies. So it is my sitting on stage and telling lies for two hours.

Comedy in India is a niche topic and especially when it comes to the English comedy with a bit of a twang as if we talk about films in that category there are not many. So how do you maintain a balance over all of it?

n For me it was always clear if I am going to act it will be in Hindi and in Hindi movies and if I want to do comedy, I want to do it in English. That allows you to kind if be centre stage in both of them. In English comedy I am in a leading position and when it comes to Hindi, the films that I am doing and the films which are releasing there are ensembles or you are doing a lead role but atleast you’re doing comedy which people would understand. So my next comedy, ‘Mastizaade’, is as commercial and as massy as I am ever going to get so that’s the balance. I think the language balance really helps me out when I am tackling both audiences. I was very clear about it, because what were the options for acting in English. A ‘Delhi Belly’ is made once every fifteen years and I have no interest in going to America and playing some waiter or a terrorist in those films. Even before I left to study acting I knew I would come back and act over here.

You and Kunal Roy Kapoor share a very close equation. You’ve done films together and now coming up with this stand up…

n Its good ya, we are both notoriously busy but we try and find time to do something or the other together each year. He just had ‘Action Jackson’ and now I’ll see him at the festival.

We just got to talking with Kunal the other day about comics in India not getting their due. A best comic film is also never going to get an award for The Best Film of the year…

n Ya, but I think you should not get into this professional if that is something you do not understand. That is like being a funeral director and saying that you only meet me at the wake…. (Smile) I mean you have signed up only for something like this. People not taking you seriously is the biggest compliment they can pay you. I pick applauds, laughter, rewards, cash over awards any day.

What about your upcoming projects?

n Next up is ‘Mastizaade’, which is like I said, completely out of my zone. I have joined the university of Milap Zaveri and it’s me Sunny Leone and Tusshar Kapoor. I am kind of a new comer in that space and this is something Tusshar has already done. But it is a really sweet love story between Sunny and me. It is kind of an American pie space. After that I have a film called 1984 with Soha Ali Khan, which is based on the Punjab riots which is again completely out of my zone. That is probably the toughest thing I have done yet. After that I have ‘Santa And Banta: The Movie’, which is Boman (Irani) and I and it is a sweet kind of family film. Then I am playing the Punjabi munda in the Punjabi Gujarati love story in the Bora brothers film called ‘Khanna Patel’.

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