While talking about the staging of 9 Jakhoo Hill and Larins Sahib in the Capital by Airtel Expressions (March 25-26 and April 1-2), he recollects, I wrote these plays in my early twenties and then I became scared to write. Plays are different from non-fiction. You have to be a little mad to attempt them, confesses the author of international bestseller India Unbound, which was also filmed by BBC. 9 Jakhoo Hill reflects the conflict between two generations, between the bound India and the unbound India. In fact, I see the echoes of India Unbound in 9 Jakhoo Hill, he says, seemingly interacting with the characters in his mind.
Das was the CEO of Procter & Gamble India before he took early retirement to become a full-time writer. His novel, A Fine Family, is also being made into a film by Shyam Benegal.
As he talks, with the vast collection of books in the backdrop at his South Delhi residence, one can't help but notice the philosophical aspect of his rational self. It is the ability to act that helps you succeed, he rationalises. On the other hand he finds it a dharma sankat to describe himself. Human beings have many identities. By age five or six their dispositions are set but they are far more complex in entirety.
Noticing his Harvard tee, one can't help but ask if it's still as close to his heart He affirmatively confirms, The four years at undergraduate Harvard did make me. It was like an academic holiday and I changed my major every year from chemistry to economics to architecture to philosophy.
A classical liberal by orientation, Das is presently working on his next book, Moral Dilemmas in Mahabharata, that looks at the failure of present governance through the lens of epic characters.
His taste in classics reflects in his favourites as well. Remembrances of Things Passed by Madame Bou Flaubert and In search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust in books and Kishori Amonkar in music are his all-time favourites.
What else Ah, I love collecting art as well. I bought these paintings decades ago and now these are worth a fortune, he says pointing to the art work in his living room. Born in 1946 at Lyallpur in Pakistan, Das signs off on a contented note. I indeed have come full circle, he says petting Tushy, his dog. Indeed!