The premise of the book, he says, is to challenge the public perception that terrorists are “madrassa boys”, who are depicted sitting, swaying back and forth learning the Koran or the Hadith. “My premise is that some of them don’t come from that background as I discovered much later after I’d done a lot of writing. Some of them are not just highly educated but absolutely brilliant guys. We find it so much easier to stereotype them and to see them monochromatically. You might disagree violently with extremism and the appalling carnage that comes in its wake. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t try and understand them”, he says.
And here he is in a far more rewarding conversation with Another Subcontinent’s Arnab Chakladhar (read the whole interview here):
At that Neemrana conference there were about 10 sessions, and all of them essentially became incarnations of the theme of Indianness. All they could think of was this question of being an Indian writer. And it pissed me off no end! For the simple reason that I am not setting out to be an Indian author. But at the same time I cannot for one moment forget that whatever I write comes from an Indian consciousness. Which is why I don’t have to give a shit about whether my writing is Indian or not. Even if I want to deny my roots and origins, they are going to show up in some tangential way or another…
…But getting back to the question of lineage, the other stream that I would trace my lineage to is the Tamasha tradition. And that I would say was a predilection that grew stronger as I grew up. I have always veered towards the ribald. Over the years the only Tamasha I saw was called Ghadvacha Lagna (The Donkey’s Wedding). It was after Saat Sakkam Trechalis…it was so amazingly rich; its humor was so broadbased; its political commentary was fantastic; its sexuality was completely out there. Now we’ve knocked the Tamasha out of our cultural life. First we diluted it and then completely wiped it out. But I was lucky. Never mind if it was just once, I had glimpsed it. I had found a kindred soul in Tamasha. Apart from Rabelais, I can also say that I am going back to my own unseen roots. I would like to think that I have inherited something vastly enriching from my own tradition.