Vir Das On His Award Nomination & Social Media Backlash

PUBLISHED ON: November 22, 2021 | Duration: 11 min, 23 sec

Vir Das has bagged an International Emmy nomination for his Netflix show Vir Das for India. The popular standup comedian spoke to NDTV's Rohit Khilnani in New York about his nomination & the backlash that he got post his Washington DC gig.

Here's the full transcript of the interview:

NDTV: Hello and welcome to NDTV. I am Rohit Khilnani. This is an interview you cannot miss. Vir Das it's good to see you in New York.

Vir Das: It's good to be here for the Emmys.

NDTV: Big congratulations for the international Emmy nomination, very well deserved and you continue to make us proud.

Vir Das: Thank you.

NDTV:: Vir, if I scan through social media in India, you seem to be the most wanted person.

Vir Das:For jokes. I guess. Yes, I don't know if that's true or that's not.

NDTV: Right. You got a lot of feedback for the show you did at the Kennedy Centre. It's an epic place where you gave a momentous performance, a lot of people. What's the kind of feedback that you have received so far?

Vir Das: As an artist you receive all kinds of feedback. But this is when millions of people from the country and everywhere, just a humbling amount of love. So that is an amazing thing that I didn't expect.

NDTV: Right. And along with love come hate comes as well. There's been a lot of that. Now that you see both the sides, is there anything different you would have done?

Vir Das: About the performance?

NDTV: Yes, about the things you have said.

Vir Das: I think laughter is a celebration. And when laughter and applause fill up a room that's a moment of pride. And I think that any Indian who has a sense of humor or understands satire or watches my entire video knows that that's what happened in that room.

NDTV: Right. You know you said that watch it in totality and don't watch excerpts, that's something. So, were you expecting, because if you say these things, if you say lines, like you know, if you mention we run over farmer's; if you mention we gang rape women in India...

Vir Das:... along with the good side ...

NDTV: ...along with the good side and the bad side, and you balanced it through the show, you must be expecting some kind of a reaction?

Vir Das: I think a comedian puts out satire and if it's the good of the country and the bad of the country, ending in the good of the country, I think that's something that you should want to come together in. So, I can't expect what will happen when I put out a piece of content. It's a joke...

NDTV:It's not in your hands.

Vir Das: it's not in my hands

NDTV: Right. But you know the minute it becomes, you know there's a complaint filed, there's some home minister in Madhya Pradesh said that you won't be allowed to perform in Madhya Pradesh, what do you have to say to them?

Vir Das: I have to cross those bridges when we come to those, humbly

NDTV: Right. So, for the next performance when you go in all eyes are going to be on you, will you do; this time because of the kind of feedback there is, this time you will be slightly more careful or will this change you, this episode?

Vir Das: I have made my country laugh for 10 years now. I have devoted my life to writing about my country. We're over here at the Emmys because I wrote a love letter to my country. As long as I able to do comedy I'll keep writing love letters to my country

NDTV: Right okay great. On that note we also want to ask you about Emmys. On one side that there is a complete, different reaction, you and I are sitting in New York. You know this also makes India very proud that you get to the nominations firstly and if you win that's even better. How do you see this contrast? On one side people are saying one thing, here people will be on the red carpet, taking your autographs and pictures.

Vir Das: I don't think so much about any of that. I've never expected to be nominated for anything in my entire life. I don't expect to get dinner this evening, like that's just who I am. You know I write jokes in the morning and then I tell them in the evening, that's it, I don't think about these last things.

NDTV:Right. Vir what is the way forward for comedians? Like, you know you facing this, maybe there is the young standup comic who is watching this interview, what is the way forward like this? You have to take one show at a time, and life one day at a time? How does one move forward and write jokes, because this will keep going on?

Vir Das: I don't know, I just don't know. Write jokes and hope to hell that people watch all of them, the full thing, in its actual context.

NDTV: You know when you tie up with Netflix for a show, like this time you put your content on youtube. Last time you tied up with Netflix. How does this work for you? Because on youtube and please correct me, you can put out your own content and, but, is there some, you know, censorship when it comes to the platform?

Vir Das: I am not aware of any censorship across any of them.

NDTV: Okay you never been told to tone down the joke?

Vir Das: No, these are the jokes people enjoy jokes, people love jokes, people love to laugh.

NDTV: Right, so when the show dropped on Netflix, I remember interviewing you, that time you came to our studio as well. Is there a big difference when you are doing it for a live audience and when you are doing a recording for Netflix? How is this done?

Vir Das: No, you are essentially filming a live show, so you are doing exactly what you would do in a normal show, there's just twelve cameras on you at the time, it's the same thing.

NDTV: Are you going to keep a mix of both? Where can we watch your content? Are you going to continue working with platforms like Netflix and doing your own thing?

Vir Das: I think so, I am going to tow now, I did a fair amount of acting, that stuff will come out, and I'll do some more acting, it's a mix of different things.

NDTV: Right, you know you made jokes of your own films

Vir Das: I make fun of myself more than I make fun of anything else

NDTV: But why is that?

Vir Das: Because that's how you endure yourself to the audience. I will make fun of myself to make you feel better about yourself.

NDTV: And, that makes people feel better?

Vir Das: I think so. If you look at this special Vir Das for India, I will never talk about what it is, but it comes from a place of humility, I think that'll always be good.

NDTV: When you did Vir Das for India, this platform reaches 190 countries, what was the kind of feedback? Is it different when NRIs write to you or is it different locally, what kind of feedback did you get?

Vir Das: I think my feedback is very simple, you either laugh or you don't laugh, if you laugh you keep watching, if you don't laugh you watch something else. That's all the feedback a comedian looks for.

NDTV:Vir, you are doing so many performances, you are doing shows, you are doing movies? How big is this content thing? Writing jokes and making people laugh is not tough, all credit to you for doing that and so that's you as a talent. How big is this team that writes the content, works with you?

Vir Das: I write the content

NDTV: You write all your content?

Vir Das: Yes, there's a production house called Weirdass Comedy and where we produced this special, I co-directed it with Ajay Bhuyan, Akash co-produced it with me. We are just tiny company. We made this Emmy nominated Netflix special.

NDTV:Vir Das is the brand by himself, people buy tickets, you are not a brand?

Vir Das: I don't know about brands, I just tells jokes

NDTV: People buy your ticket when they see your name on the poster, what will an Emmy nomination or Emmy trophy add to your profile?

Vir Das: Nothing. Much like buying my ticket adds nothing to my profile. When you buy a ticket to a film and sit down that's their battle won, because you bought the ticket. When you buy a ticket to my show and sit down my works begins from there. So, whether I have an Emmy in my hands or whether I don't have an Emmy in my hand, I still have to make you laugh, you are still sitting there for 2 hours expecting to laugh.

NDTV: Somewhere we all get excited when there is a validation on an international platform like this. Does this not add anything to excitement?

Vir Das: I am honoured to be invited on this; I am honoured to take selfies with some of the people that are here. I consider any opportunity to be a blessing, but will it affect comedy? No, you just have to tell jokes and make people laugh.

NDTV: Vir, this is also on the platform where there are many other shows, many other comedians will come in the future as well, from around the globe. Do you see this is as a healthy thing to be on a platform like this or do you think you would like to be on a space where you don't want any competition?

Vir Das: No, it's definitely a healthy thing to be on a global platform, to have your voice be given a much larger voice, it's absolutely it's the healthiest thing.

NDTV: I ask actors usually, but since you have done Mastizade, I should ask you, How does one up your artistic game, do you watch a lot? Do you sit and write, what do you do?

Vir Das: Yes, I do sit and watch a lot of great comedians, I try and find newer things to talk about, and then I just experience a lot of the world. Like I experience a lot, I say yes to a lot of things, that let's try this, let's do that, so that the more experience goes in then you are able to talk about it.

NDTV: If you do a show in India, and if you do a show in the US, you must be reading a lot, to know something about Donald Trump and to know something about someone in India?

Vir Das: I think you just tell your story, people show up, if they connect with it, they will laugh, I don't think you have to cater.

NDTV: So, a show over here, won't be any different from a show that you'll do back in Mumbai?

Vir Das: No

NDTV:Okay. Vir, you have performed at the smallest places in Bandra, where we both live, and at Kennedy Centre. I know for you there's nothing like stage fright What was the one thing on your mind the moment you put one foot on the stage, what plays on your mind?

Vir Das: I think about my parents, I think about how lucky I am. And the nice thing about laughter is that it sounds the same everywhere in the world. It doesn't matter where you are, laughter sounds the same. So, I just think about that sound and try to be as authentic as I can get.

NDTV: Beautiful and its working. Vir, you know I am reaching the end of the interview, what is the one thing that when people log into your youtube channel, they click when they see your post on the Netflix menu, they buy tickets, what is that one thing that a Vir Das fan should always remember about him?

Vir Das:That he will make you laugh; he will make you better about yourself.

NDTV: Lastly, we are just one day before the red carpet, I will see you on the red carpet, and then soon I will see you in India at some point, take care of yourself and you continue to make us laugh.

Vir Das: Thank you

NDTV: Thank you, Vir.
Spotlight Special: Vir Das & Nawazuddin Siddiqui At International Emmys

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