If you want to make the very first Netflix comedy special by an Indian comedian, none other would be better suited for that than Vir Das, one of India’s biggest comedy star. A powerhouse of talent, Vir is a popular stand-up comedian in India who has made his presence felt in several Bollywood movies. He doesn’t stop at that, his spoonerized romedy cock band ‘Alien Chutney’ is pretty popular in music festivals across India. Having studied theater in Illinois he does brilliant accents of Australians and bond villains amongst other accents which are not always perfect but are always funny.
Vir puts his sense of music to good use and starts his show with a song which successfully puts a smile on the face of his audience in New Delhi and New York. Vir declares that his show ‘Abroad Understanding’ is about things he doesn’t understand. It turns out his understanding of issues and people in America and in India goes deeper than the affable Indian would like you to believe. As the camera moves back and forth between a stadium full of people in New Delhi to a club filled with a couple of hundred people in New York during an hour-long show, Vir draws interesting parallels between the cultures that leave the audience in splits.
‘Abroad Understanding’ is full of intelligent ideas and observations such as how India is more like a goldfish than a bird, and how America’s presidential election is like an Indian arranged marriage. For the American audience, there are interesting takeaways on how not everything is going badly for their country. Vir suggests they should look at the brighter side explaining how Trump’s victory will reduce terrorism on their soil and how they have managed to do with cereal what God did with tits. It also showcases various aspects of Indian culture to the world, how Indian food is a quintessential ingredient of romance.
Vir proficiently translates his brilliant observations on issues to people on either side of the globe. He explains how racism binds Britain and America like Venus and Serena and he also draws similarities between religion and newspapers. He also offers brilliant advice on dealing with global issues of religious violence and racism. Good guy Vir opens up about his paternal emotions, his first kiss, heartbreak, and marriage in the funniest way possible.
Clichéd jokes on Indian politics, Bollywood movies, eve teasing on Indian streets, sex deprived engineers and technology ruining lives accompanied by juvenile sex jokes are the low points of the show. Some of these are intentional as Vir admits that one bad sex joke is remembered over the entire intelligent content. Nonetheless, clichés exist for a reason and beauty lies in imperfection.
Abroad Understanding is certainly Vir’s strong knock on the doors of the global stand-up market. It’s also a proud moment for Indian comedy as the world will take notice that Indian comedy is more than head bobble jokes and funny accents. Everyone should watch it to see the funny side of global problems, acknowledge each other’s differences and understand each other better.