THE UPSHOT
In this witty “love letter to India”, Vir Das talks about the mystery of chyawanprash and the joys of growing up eating Parle-G.

Writer: Vir Das
Cast: Vir Das
Streaming on: Netflix

Vir Das calls his latest Netflix special a “love letter to India”. This nostalgia-infused letter is peppered with references of things familiar to those who grew up here in the 1990s: chyawanprash, Old Monk, Jungle Book, Shikari Shambhu and Parle-G. It’s one of his smartest shows yet, with clever punchlines you don’t see coming.

Das gets nostalgic over Parle-G

Das begins his set holding a kulhad of chai and reminiscing about steel dabbas filled with Parle-G biscuits. He brings up common Indian preoccupations: our obsession with Bollywood, fairness, racism, gun violence, Parle-G. He talks entertainingly about Indian cliches and then  delivers a punchline so unexpected and hard-hitting, you sit up in attention. It’s the way he surprisingly wraps up nostalgic anecdotes with political assertions that’s the most delightful part of the show.

He goes through the latest headlines

Das runs through newsy topics such as Section 377, the Modi government’s tenure, the Vedas, the Babri Masjid controversy and many other polarising issues. However there are times he plays it safe. He seems to stop short of stretching a joke to the point at which it starts getting uncomfortable. That said, he delivers a neat line on Mother Teresa.

Sometimes the set seems like history class

Das addresses an international audience. This means he often explains the context of a joke to the non-desis. It’s like listening to a teacher explain stuff to kids who’ve missed class.

K is for Kashmir

The comedian deserves props for this Kashmir analogy. “Do you ever walk into your own kitchen like, “This is my spoon. I will lock this spoon in a drawer and cut off access to this spoon to prove my kitchen is functional”. Brilliant.

Photo: Getty Images.