Who are you? What defines you? Do you love your country? What do you love about your country? It does seem like we’re all questioning what being an Indian is all about and what are those things we like to tell about this land we live in. Vir Das volunteers to take a stab at it in his latest Netflix special Vir Das: For India.
Vir pours his heart out when it comes to talking about India. In a loosely knit set, he somehow manages to throw light on a whole lot of politics in the most subtle manner possible. And while you sit there watching his one and a half-hour long set, you’re bound to tell yourself at least once, “God, I wish he wasn’t this safe.”
What one might find a little amusing is how the audience comprises of Indians and non-Indians and every now and then Vir takes a moment to explain the joke and put some context in for those who don’t really know what he’s talking about. But I kid you not, even with the context explained, I am pretty sure they won’t get the joke.
This ‘demarcation plus explain the joke’ format is quite a hit and miss and ends up spoiling the flow of his otherwise ‘smart’ set.
Vir talks about everything Indian possible. It’s almost like he’s giving a crash course on what India is all about. He talks about Parle-G, Chyawanprash, Jungle Book, Old Monk, arranged marriages, Gandhi, the British, East India Company, mandir-masjid...and I can go on and on and on. I am hoping you see the problem here.
Yes, those are a lot of topics to tackle and he goes from one to another with no segues and half-an-hour into the special, you might want to take a break because of the overload of information.
There’s a part where Vir Das tries to coincide a joke about Indian names in The Jungle Book and PM Modi. “Has anyone met a Mowgli?” he asks, “Anybody met a Narendra Mowgli?” Vir asks again. And that whole bit will have you cracking.
But if I may, you know when stand-up comics are playing on relatability and they go all out with juxtapositions and setting up a joke and then comes the final big laugh. That doesn’t quite happen here.
Vir Das’s set is a like a roller coaster with its highs and lows but neither leave you completely exhilarated with laughter or a “oh my god, what a joke!” moment.
But do I have a favourite moment that I might want to go back and watch once in a while?
*Joke Spoiler Alert*
In a beautiful manner, Das points out how in India we just have to respect the elders, because you can’t question that and truly, there’s nothing like an open-minded aged person. We know that. He talks about how old people are rigid and then throw a tantrum. They’ll go to a Chinese restaurant and ask for an omelette and WILL get it.
And then comes the beautiful part.
We have the youngest population in the world with some of the oldest political leaders, and that’s how they rule us.
“I will have hatred.”
“But we are a free country with human rights.”
“But we don’t do that.”