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Indian comedian Vir Das, who faced severe backlash for his “I come from two Indias” monologue at the John F Kennedy Centre in Washington DC last week, has said that the online response to his route was out of his hands. But, he added, he will continue to “write love letters” to his country as long as he can.
“I think that any Indian who has a sense of humour, or understands satire, or watches my entire video, knows that that’s what happened in that room,” the 42-year-old standup comic told NDTV.
Towards the end of his segment in DC, Das narrated a poem called “two Indias” on some of the contrasting aspects of his homeland.
He covered issues from farmers’ protests and Covid-19 to petrol price hikes during his six-minute monologue.
“I come from an India where we bleed blue every time we play green but every time we lose to green we turn orange all of a sudden,” Das said, alluding to India’s historic rivalry with Pakistan on and off the cricket field. The Indian team wears blue jerseys against the green worn by Pakistani cricket players — orange or saffron is the colour of the ruling Hindu nationalist party, the BJP.
“I come from an India where we worship women during the day and gang-rape them during the night/I come from an India where journalism is supposedly dead because men in fancy studios, in fancy suits, give each other handjobs and yet women on road with laptops are telling the truth,” he said.
Das was adding his voice to growing criticism about a politically compromised media and rising crimes against women in a country where they are also worshipped as various forms of Hindu goddesses.
The clip of the comedian’s monologue was widely shared on the internet. While Das received praise from many people for his “honesty,” others accused him of “anti-India propaganda under the garb of comedy”.
Several police complaints were also filed against the comedian, and a minister from the BJP banned Das from performing in the state of Madhya Pradesh.
Speaking about this ban, Das said he will “cross those bridges when we come to those — humbly”.
Asked whether he was expecting such a response when he wrote the monologue, Das said: “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. I can’t expect what happens when I put out a piece of content... It’s jokes. It’s not in my hands.”
The comedian also indicated that this experience won’t affect the jokes that he writes in future.
“I have made my country laugh for 10 years now. I have devoted my life to writing about my country,” Das said. “We are here at the Emmys because I wrote a love letter to my country. As long as I am able to do my comedy, I want to keep writing love letters to my country.”
Das’ Netflix show Vir Das: For India has been nominated for an international Emmy, and he is currently in the US to attend the awards ceremony.