I first heard the name Vir Das when my dad told me a video of his had gone viral on Whatsapp. Here we go, I thought, expecting some jokes that only Indian uncles and aunties would find funny. But my dad made me and my sister sit down, put on the TV and said that we should all pay attention to this comedian’s set. I never could have anticipated the performance that Das displayed in the Kennedy Centre. The viral video, ‘Come From Two India’s’, now has over 5 million views, but that number does nothing to express the controversy that the video stirred up. After Das’ comedic commentary on India, nationalism and his frustration with its duality, the backlash he received resulted in more than four legal cases, accusations of ‘terrorism’ and death threats.
‘Vir Das: Wanted’ tells the story after ‘Two India’s’ was released with some additional stories about freedom, growing up and being brown. From the flight back home after his controversial set, the recovery and the hate, Das manages to make even the darkest moments of his story into something that can make us all smile. In fact, for most of the set, the audience couldn’t stop laughing― sometimes out of discomfort (the good kind, that makes you laugh and think at the same time), sometimes at Das’ hilarious performance. But as the best comedians do, Das’ experience was apparent and the audience felt like they were in great hands.
The whole show was unapologetically political and wasted no time in cutting to the core of India’s best and worst parts. When my sister and I first watched ‘Come From Two India’s’, we joked about him being in trouble when he returned to India because we knew the controversy it would spark: but seeing how real and personal that trouble became for him and his family really hit home. His words really make you check your privilege as Indian diaspora and the freedom that comes with living in Britain.
Growing up in a predominantly white area of England, I’ve never had the privilege of experiencing an audience full of people who have the same experience as you, that look like you, that just get it― maybe that’s what made this show so exceptionally special beyond Das’ incredible performance. I certainly will be recommending this show to everyone, and if you’d like to cry-laugh to Das’ political commentary, I would recommend it to you too.
For tickets and more information visit edfringe.com
'Vir Das: Wanted' at HOME, Manchester