It’s a sneak preview of the stand-up comedian-turned-big screen actor’s new show Battle of Da Sexes. Vir Das, dressed in a sleek suit, every lock of his hair set to perfection, starts off by narrating how his new stand-up show is about the “chronology of differences between men and women.” The monologue quickly moves on to how he has five women in his life and ends with how he plans to haave a new show on nuts (read almonds, walnuts and so on.)
Later, during an interview, Das enlightens me about the true meaning of the show that premieres at the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA) next week. “Battle of Da Sexes is about the eternal battle between the genders right from their evolution to what makes them who they are today. In the show, I talk about their behaviour, mannerisms, the kind of movies and books males like, the kind of movies and books women like, male leaders, female leaders, male athletes, female athletes etc. For instance, I explore why men like reading Satanic Verses while women enjoy The God of Small Things.”
It’s not so much the description but his next statement that gets me curious. “I did a lot of research for this show,” he says, adding, “You know, a woman speaks 320 words per minute on an average while a man speaks 120 words. I read a lot of biology books and of course, depended on the Internet for this kind of information.” The actor also concedes that he sought the help of family and friends to validate facts. “I would often call up my female friends to ask, ‘Hey, is this what pisses you off about your man?’ Or ‘I read this up on the net, do you think it’s true?’ So yes, all of them gave me vital inputs.”
The show, which was penned in five months, promises to be highly interactive where male and female members of the audience will not only be seated opposite each other but will also engage in a war of words. Without divulging too many details, Das says, “There will be a heavy amount of crowd involvement. Men and women will sit in separate sections. We will have a series of activities during the show, at the end of which, there will be a winner. The logic behind the seating arrangement is simple. Girls are always louder and funniest when in a group of girls and vice versa. Of course, this way they will all get to meet 10 new girls and 10 new men.”
Das explains that Battle of Da Sexes has been designed and conceived as “a sexy, edgy and raunchy show” compared to the patriotic and poignant feel of his earlier show History of India Virwritten. “Battle of Da Sexes is my rebellion of sorts as I was tired of playing a decent guy in History of India Virwritten for three years,” he says. The actor, however, reveals that next year, he will tour abroad with History of India Virwritten. “I’m really excited about it as this is the first time an original Indian voice will be seen on the international scene. Usually we see people of Indian origin talking about our country,” he says.
However, Das is clear that he won’t change the content of the show to adapt to foreign audiences. “Abroad, people perceive India as the country of spice sellers and snake charmers. But there’s more to us. Having said that, I won’t tweak the content at all. After all, any content that is universal and relatable always has an audience,” he concludes.