Comedian Russell Brand gets candid about his upcoming performance in India
British standup comedian, actor, radio host, author and activist Russell Brand managed to create quite a buzz with news of his upcoming visit to India as part of Live Viacom18’s Comedy Central Chuckle Festival breaking out. After working in successful movies like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Arthur and possibly his most successful rock comedy Get Him to The Greek, Brand’s brand is as endearing as it is infectious. His Indian connect dates back to his short-lived marriage to pop sensation Katy Perry, that took place in Rajasthan in a traditional ceremony in 2010 and his love for Yoga. Through his trademark humour that exploits celebrities, social media and politics, the man has created quite a stir on this side of the pond. We caught up with him in a tête-à-tête ahead of his much-anticipated Indian visit that will witness the opening act by homegrown and much loved comedian and actor, Vir Das. Excerpts:
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Q. What do you think of Indian women?
A. I love Indian women.
Q. Adding another feather to your cap you are now a political activist. Where did that interest spring from?
A. I just owe that to my life and being awake and being around ordinary people. There’s much to learn from people. I know where the power lies and where the money is.
Q. Given your most recent activities, will the shows in India have a political angle to them or will you be performing your old material?
A. We will be doing some of my best material. There is always going to be a political edge because how can you avoid politics? When you’re going to a country like India which is experiencing rapid growth, rapid development, you can’t avoid politics. It’s essential; it’s an integral part of what makes your country. But I’ve never played in India before, so I’m certainly going to shed some light on things that I’m very comfortable with and keep it breezy.
Q. You famously talk about drugs, alcohol and promiscuity in your stand-up acts. Will you be censoring that for the Indian audience? What are your views on censorship?
A. My views on censorship? I don’t know. I think be polite to people and respect people’s cultures and religions and their very many intricacies, but as long as you’re in touch with one true reality then why would you need to censor yourself? Seems pointless, you can’t shun the truth by ignoring it, you know.
Q. As a practicing Hindu, what are your views on Hindu fundamentalism present in India?
A. I’m not a practicing Hindu; I just like some of the deities and gods. I’m discovering things and inventing them as I go along and I recommend that to everybody else who believes staunchly in religion as well — that you should live your religion.
Q. What are you most looking forward to about performing in India?
A. The Indian people, being around Indian people. I have a special connect to this place. Look at all my tattoos and Sanskrit scriptures.
Q. How would you describe your comic element?
A. My comic element is... truth.