WRITTEN BY SHREY JAIN
‘Vir Das for India’ is a Netflix stand up special that revolves around the diverse and intriguing country of India. From the Vedas to Vasco Da Gama, Vir Das celebrates the history of this country in the most unique and amusing way. Keeping every little detail in mind while efficiently spreading his content over 75 minutes, Vir Das’s take on Indian history is not one you can find in your textbooks.
Firstly, he really stepped outside the box and broke the conventions of the traditional stand-up show. There is no real stage and the audience isn’t far below him. He performs the special seated on a few stairs that lead up to an old blue door, in the midst of darkness. At the audience’s eye level accompanied by a matka chai in a black auditorium, Vir Das had me captivated from the very beginning. As the show is being performed in India, the audience mostly consists of Indians. However, a certain area in the audience has been specially designated for the NRI. Time and again, Das directly addresses them to explain a few Indian references while utilising them to enhance his set.
Das uses self-deprecating humour, audience interaction and commentary to evoke laughter from his audience. He can also be described as a daring comedian, especially after this special. This is because one cannot have a set about India without talking about the country’s politics which is a controversial subject. Nonetheless, Vir Das does this while simultaneously cultivating a comedic piece. However, it is important to note that some of his jokes could trigger several individuals. Another predominant aspect of his style involves intellectual humour. This does not necessarily include jokes that might be hard to understand, but requires the audience or viewers to make relations with several other references. Thus, for this show, a fair understanding of Indian history, political affairs and the diverse culture, is necessary.
As a comedian, Das times his multifaceted jokes beautifully, while making his piece decorated and impactful. Through this special, Vir Das compellingly conveys to the audience what it truly means to be desi. ‘For India’ is like his love letter to the country; a letter of appreciation for what the country has given him. This ranges from laughs for his special, to moments of overwhelming pride. He had me absolutely mesmerised throughout, and makes it a point to remind everyone of India’s moments of achievement and hence, the moments we should celebrate. All in all, this special is well rounded and full of unexpected punches. Unsung landmarks. Unappreciated battles. Undeniably good biscuits. Vir Das’s special is a journey of excellence and a must watch.
Trigger warnings: Profanity