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HELLO! 100 Most Influential: Vasu Primlani

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Nayare Ali

Why she matters: Feisty, fearless and one of the most successful female Indian comics, this LGBTQIA+ icon uses humour to lend her voice to social issues of concern today—be it the environment or matters of women’s safety.

She’s a B-school professor, somatic therapist, triathlete, environmentalist and also a standup comic. Vasu Primlani is a woman of multiple interests, acing it all.

Not one to mince her words, Primlani is opinionated, without being crass or hitting below the belt. Using humour as her mode of expression to bring lightto matters of relevance today, she lendsher voice to conversations around the deteriorating state of the environment, human rights, gender equality, cultural concerns, women’s safety and— being a survivor herself—rape.

Furthermore, as a prominent LGBTQIA+ icon in the stand-up comedy space, Primlani has produced and performed at prestigious comedy club shows, both in India and abroad. In addition to her hundreds of performances around the world, Primlani has a master’s in geography, urban planning and law from the University of California, Los Angeles. Today, she shuttles between Delhi and the US, where she founded the Thimmakka’s Resources for Environmental Education, an organisation that provides environmental consulting services for restaurants.

“As female comics, we get a lot of flak. From assumptions like ‘women aren’t funny’ to ‘women have to be really brazen to be able to speak in public.’ There will always be that misguided male who will try and mouth off at you,” she once said, as brazenly as the “misguided male” community expects of women.

The highlight of her seemingly impossible list of achievements would be receiving the highest honour a woman can receive in India—she was conferred the Nari Shakti Puraskar by the president in 2015.

This multihyphenate is often prodded about how she wears so many hats and remains relevant in all spaces. “I’ve actually broken paths in various fields,” said the woman at the cusp of 50.

“I started with being a stand-up comedian in India, when stand-up comedy was not a thing. Since then, I’ve made my mark in acting (Badrinath Ki Dulhania and Brahmastra), teaching at IIT, doing corporate shows, training on leadership, increasing productivity and commitment, diversity in women and the LGBTQIA+, giving motivational talks, being a triathlete and somatic therapist… I even started my line of organic foods, I Am Hot!”

As though all of this wasn’t enough, she’s also a rock climber and a trained ballerina!

To see who else is on the list, grab the copy of HELLO! India’s August 2023 issue right here!