हँस कि दिल आज़ाद है तेरा - Laugh because Your Heart is Free
"[The human race] has unquestionably one really effective weapon - Laughter. Power, money, persuasion, supplication, persecution - these can lift at a colossal humbug - push it a little - weaken it a little, century by century, but only laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand."
~ Mark Twain
The cities of Lucknow and Benares have a strong rooted culture of political comedy, expressed through crowd-pulling hasya sammelans and widely read satirical literature. Cultures of taking on members of the establishment - cops, politicians, etc. especially if they happen to be in the audience! Cultures of challenging authoritarianism and easing helplessness through a healthy dose of cutting laughter. Growing up in these two cities, Varun Grover knew early on that he would be a writer of comedy that has a political colour, that expresses dissent.
We are delighted to invite Varun Grover - comedian, screenwriter, lyricist who calls himself the permanent outsider - to Mumbai Local, to talk about comedy as dissent, and dissent as a safety valve to authoritarianism. He will share with us the power of comedy as he sees it, and as he unleashes it. He will also give us an insight into the traditions of comedy in India, what his influences have been, and what he thinks the future of comedy might be.
Do join us on Saturday for a wonderful evening exploring comedy and dissent.
Curated by Sanjna Kapoor
RSVP for this session begins on Monday 2nd September, 2019
Varun grew up in Uttar Pradesh (schooling in Lucknow and graduation from IIT-BHU, Varanasi) and later worked in a software firm in Pune for a year before jumping into the rush-hour local of Mumbai to become a writer. His first major break came with The Great Indian Comedy Show (2005-2007) as a staff writer and he went on to write various late-night shows on Indian TV in the next few years.
His stint in lyrics writing began with Anurag Kashyap's That Girl In Yellow Boots (2010) and notable works include the music albums of Gangs of Wasseypur (2012), Ankhon Dekhi (2014), Dum Laga Ke Haisha (2015), and Sui Dhaaga (2018).
He ventured into screenplay writing with Neeraj Ghaywan's Masaan (2015) that went on to premier and win two awards in Un Certain Regard section at Cannes Film Festival (2015).
He has been involved with writing children's fiction in Hindi for more than ten years now and Paper Chor, a collection of his short stories for children written over this period, was published by Ektara India's Jugnoo Imprint in 2019.
Varun thinks of himself as a perenennial outsider, constantly shifting between roles and never feeling like belonging to any room he has been a part of. Most of his work derives from this anxiety of rootlessness as well as his memories of the complex cities that nurtured him. He considers his anti-establishment comedy as his most honest expression and hopes to live long enough to see the subaha Sahir saab wrote about.