Vir Das is a name familiar to Indians, whether it’s through his stand-up, his work in Bollywood, or due to the police complaints against him for his infamous Two Indias routine. Like the show’s title suggests (as does the montage of audio clips from Indian news channels that play on the sound system before his entry), Das takes to the stage to discuss his experience of being a man wanted – not due to passion but for an alleged ‘crime’ – by certain conservative sects of India.
Das is an Indian comic speaking of his life and work in India, but balances his material perfectly for those from a different cultural background. He reaches out to fellow South Asians but also translates any Hindi or cultural codes he uses for an international audience. There is not a single dull moment in the show. Combining compelling storytelling – especially a spoken-word segment on the power of the microphone – with planned and improvised humour that is met with hoots and thunderous applause, Das keeps the audience hanging on to his every word.
This highly personal, autobiographical show is interspersed with enjoyable volleying with the audience. He ‘warms up’ the stage for the first ten minutes, allowing late entries while riffing with them, but never in a cruel manner. His confidence and familiarity with being onstage are evident as he shifts from sitting on a stool, utilising the mic stand and animatedly walking around the space. Even the timing of his sips of water adds to the emphatic pauses and punchlines.
The Fringe provides one of the best international platforms to learn about other cultures and ways of life through art. Das’s struggle as a comic with the freedom to express his love for his country while also frankly sharing the concerns facing its people is in fact universal. You won’t want to miss this one, even if it’s just for the most mind-bending ending to a comedic show you will watch all Fringe.