IT WAS quite apt that acclaimed Indian stand-up comedian Anirban Dasgupta spoke about strict censorship and the danger of telling jokes in his country at the beginning of his show at Soho Theatre in London earlier this month. That is because the first half of his show was filled with material that probably couldn’t be performed in India without serious repercussions.
The intelligent comedian bravely dissected aspects of a crumbling India, including politics, religious divides and a leader who seems out of touch, in a way that cleverly combined humour with thought-provoking observations. Even those who were not up to speed with what is currently happening in an increasingly divided country could follow what was going on.
The comic with a strong stage presence then pivoted to more personal matters in the second half as he spoke about being the father of a young girl and the responsibilities that come with it. He then spoke about his own parents living in a giant extended family and how it was instrumental in having him much later in life, leading to its own challenges. The family-led jokes didn’t always land, but there were plenty of laughter-filled moments. At times there was randomness as Dasgupta bounced between the varied subjects and then there was a slight struggle as he tried to bring all the various threads together.
Some of the India-centred subjects perhaps weren’t relatable across nationalities. But his strong stage presence, likeable persona and subtle delivery kept the audience engaged.
His delivery style connected nicely to the show’s title, as the comic cut through everything from life to politics politely. This makes the Mumbai-based funnyman another valuable addition to the new wave of Indian stand-up comedians who are making an impact internationally.