The monologue by comedian Vir Das performed at the John F Kennedy Centre in Washington DC has made the headlines. Vir Das who is famous for his humorous standup performances and witty personality is now facing criticism after his latest video ‘I come from 2 Indias’. The video has sparked debates and hate comments, once again across the nation, activating the ‘positivity gang’.
What did the monologue narrate?
The monologue “I come from 2 Indias” is a humorous satire. It talks about the current disparities in the nation that are often ignored or ‘you-know-who’ won’t like it. The monologue has unveiled many political errors and social problems that exist in the land. All of it with a pinch of humour. It narrated the two perspectives, one that we see and believe and one that we are made to believe, one that is true and one that sounds good. Dividing us into 2 Indias, where one is a veil and the other one is the devastating truth.
The satire called attention to Rape Culture, Patriarchy, Twitter Harassment, Farmer Issues, Political Errors, Vaccination Controversy, Brain Drain and the widely celebrated Religious Conflicts. What seems amusing is that the monologue also talked about the public backlash which would happen after it. And as predicted, is happening.
The monologue proved to be true in the comment section of the video and social media handles. Some people deeply understood the satire and appreciated it whereas the other halves found the monologue disgracing the image of India and did not shy away in expressing the same on the internet. The video started getting viral and #StandUpForIndia, #VirDasInsultsHindus and #VirDas went trending on Twitter. Following the trend another popular trend of FIRs started and several FIRs were lodged against the Comic in Delhi and Mumbai.
The actress Kangna Ranaut who is a familiar face in such controversies called the monologue ‘Soft Terrorism’ and shared her outrage on social media. Later she brought up a screenshot of an old Tweet of Vir Das. Sharing which she wrote, “Example of creepy Indian man, who is good for nothing so he sells his sleaze for a living to equally creepy and sexist-racist audience.”
Vir Das and his controversial standups
Vir Das and his standups are familiar to the public backlash. Most of his standups contained casteist or sexist remarks and strong language. In one of his performances, while making jokes about ex-Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh; Mayawati, he crossed the limit and made jokes about the minister’s appearance and how he thinks ‘she looks like a man’. The stand up was problematic on several levels. Not only this, numerous times Vir Das has crossed the threshold into unacceptable but even then no serious actions were taken against him.
Making a humorous satire about the nation’s working was something new by the comic. Analysing if it were wrong or not is a different discussion altogether but enthusiasts demanding action against him for his previous standups, right after the release of his recent video should be the topic of discussion. Unfortunately, comments on nations working way more than misogyny and casteist remarks in the balance of our society.
Contrast is also seen in the opinion of political leaders after the release of the video. Where on one side Congress MP Shashi Tharoor celebrated the comic’s words and tweeted about the same. He wrote “A stand-up comedian who knows the real meaning of the term “stand up” is not physical but moral — @thevirdas spoke for millions in this 6-minute take on the Two Indias he hails from & stands up for,” Tharoor tweeted on Tuesday. However, Congress politician Abhishek Manu Singhvi did not share Tharoor’s sentiments and criticised him for “vilifying the nation“.
On the contrary, BJP spokesperson Aditya Jha lodged a complaint accusing Vir Das of ‘vilifying nation on the foreign soil’. Mr Jha later released a video statement talking about the same. Kapil Sibbal, a Congress minister supported the monologue but reflected dislike at its oration on the foreign soil.
Did the monologue prove true?
“I come from an India who is going to watch this and say-
This isn’t standup comedy. Where is the goddamn joke?
And yet I come from an India
That will watch this and know there is a gigantic joke
It just isn’t funny.“
Vir Das’ monologue that talked about the problems of the nation is not only a satire on the nation but on all of us who reside in one of those Indias and call ourselves Indians, proudly. The people who have lodged complaints based on ‘vilifying on foreign soil’ at the comic do not acknowledge that if it were in India, he would have been booked under sedition or UAPA the very next moment. If we study closely, on the part of Vir Das this wasn’t the bold move to read in Washington DC but rather a smart move to save his life.
Following the backlash, Vir Das issued his statement on Twitter where he explained that the monologue is a satire and he takes pride in living in the country. He also urged the people not to share and watch the edited versions of the video.
After 75 years of independence, sadly India is not the dream of Tagore. Sadly the Mind is not without Fear and the Head is not held High. This issue is not about Vir Das, this is about every voice that is raised to mend the differences but gets booked under ‘instigating differences’. Looking forward to the day where the house is booked and not the comic. And we the people of a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic, republic point out the wrong, freely in our land and not on foreign soil.
Surely, Vir Das has made derogatory remarks in his past performances. Remarks against women along with strong language. He was wrong at places and deserves backlash for the same. But the recent monologue holds no connections with the previous ones. The monologue is more like an independent word and not just words by a comic who has a bad record.
Syed Taqui Haider is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Malaika M Khan