Gags to Riches

Ahead of Revolver Rani’s release, Vir Das talks about being a stand-up comic and graduating to lead roles in Bollywood.

Written by Sankhayan Ghosh | Published:April 12, 2014 12:49 am
Vir Das will be seen opposite Kangana Ranaut in Revolver Rani. Vir Das will be seen opposite Kangana Ranaut in Revolver Rani.

You have played certain kinds of urban characters till now. Is Revolver Rani a departure from those?

Yes, my role in Revolver Rani is incredibly different from the ones I have done so far. I have played relatively nice guys but here he is a small-town guy with a low moral compass. He is manipulative and can use anyone to any extent for his own benefit.

You debuted in films six years ago. How has your journey been since then?

Honestly, I never mapped out my film career so far. It all started with appearing in one scene in a film. From that point, I started getting meaty roles in ensemble cast films and today I have six lead roles. It’s almost like how one gets promoted in a company. Delhi Belly opened up a lot of opportunities for me.

Films were a sudden decision. I didn’t think of Hindi films before because I wasn’t interested in playing a chocolate boy. I saw Rang De Basanti and it changed my mind. I had no preparation whatsoever, I gave myself six months, produced stand-up comedy content, made them into DVDs and distributed them in every video parlour in Bandra and Andheri. Two of the people who happened to pick it up were Yashraj staff and one of them was the assistant to the casting director of Aamir Khan Productions. It gave me my first full-fledged role in both, Badmaash Company and Delhi Belly.

In what ways is stand-up different from films?

Stand-up is saying 500 different things in one hour and films are saying the same thing in 500 different ways. Stand-up is more adrenaline while films are a test of patience. I do like the adrenaline rush but you have to realise that one can’t have a 30-year-old career based on that. Every stand-up eventually gravitates towards films. I want to be in a similar space as American actor-comedians such as Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller.

Is the Hindi film industry open enough for a stand-up comic as a leading man?

Yes, it is possible for a comic actor to headline a film and make money as well. I am looking for longevity in the film industry and right now I am trying to build a relationship with the audience. I am fortunate that I have three outlets to reach them: stand-up, films and music with Alien Chutney.

Among your three career paths, what stands where in terms of priority?

Stand-up is about 30-35 per cent of my time and the rest is taken up by film shoots.

With so many stand-up comics now, how competitive is the scene?

The scene is very good, there are many artistes now and most importantly, people are willing to pay and watch it in a proper venue. I have been doing stand-up for too long to be bothered by competition. Also, I am venturing into music with Alien Chutney where I play with Warren Mendonsa on guitar, Sidd Coutto on drums, Kaizad Gherda on keyboards and Gaurav Gupta playing the bass. Comedy rock, after stand-up, is the next big thing in India.

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