Sheela Narayanan
Fri, Dec 04, 2009
Funny boy to Bollywood hunk?

VIR DAS likes to tell you he is a late bloomer.

At 30 - he passed that momentous chronological marker in May - his career is just taking off.

Not only is he an excellent stand-up comedian, as his two sold-out shows at The Esplanade's recently concluded Indian arts festival Kalaa Utsavam prove, he is carving out a second career in Bollywood too.

The Mumbai-based Vir is currently filming a yet untitled Yash Raj movie with Shahid Kapoor in Thailand, and he is looking the part of a hot, young Bollywood actor.

When tabla! met him recently, Vir looked quite different from his recent publicity shots. The usual short, gelled crop was longer and had been straightened. The slim frame has filled out, thanks to regular gym sessions.

"My body and hair are no longer in my control," he says, displaying his effortless sense of humour.

"I've been sent to the gym by Yash Raj. Ten days ago I had a shirtless scene in the film and I worked very hard for it."

Then he adds that comedians don't take to exercise easily.

The film will be his third Bollywood role; his first two were Love Aaj Kal with Saif Ali Khan earlier this year and Delhi Belly with Imraan Khan which is about to be released in the next few months, and he made a guest appearance in Namastey London with Katrina Kaif and Akshay Kumar in 2006.

However, Vir made his acting debut in an independent film, Mumbai Salsa, in 2007, and confesses that he never thought he would pursue acting as a career.

That's despite the former investment banker wannabe having a double degree in economics and theatre from Knox College in the United States.

He was also accepted into Harvard University for its Stanislavsky Program with the Moscow Arts Theatre where he trained for six months and performed eight plays with the company.

"This is my first foray into a commercial film, it's a nice four-person movie - it's in that Rang De Basanti space. I am dancing around trees, I've a love track. I consider this my launch pad," he says.

But don't expect Vir to swop the microphone for a pair of hot trunks a la John Abraham anytime soon.

He still loves his stand-up schedule.

Following his Kalaa Utsavam performance, he flew into Bangkok, shot for most of the day on the film set located two hours outside the city and then headed back into the Thai capital for a stand-up gig.

After which he flew back to Mumbai for another gig.

"Sleep is a luxury," he admits.

And he didn't get much during his whirlwind visit to Singapore. Not only did he have two sold-out shows - his brand of observational humour that skewers his fellow Indians around the world was also injected with some local references that he picked up from The Straits Times online - he also has family here: His sister, award-winning documentary film-maker Trisha Das, lives here with her husband and son.

Despite the lack of shut-eye, Vir admits he has a soft spot for this city and can't wait to perform here again.

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