As through the wonderfully erudite articulate and, yes, gracious parliamentarian-academic Shashi Tharoor didn’t have enough on his plate, he is now actively involved in a sprawling ambitious multi-lingual web series based on his monumental book Why I Am A Hindu.
Speaking on a Wednesday morning midst a barrage of phone calls, Mr. Tharoor says he agreed to the web series because he believed in the producer. “When (producer) Sheetal Talwar came to me I liked his conviction. He made no tall promises. But he assured me the essence of my book would be captured in the series. I have not read the screenplay yet. But I’m confident it will do justice to my thoughts on Hinduism. Nowadays this question of who is a real Hindu is being asked constantly. I want my thoughts on this subject to reach out to a wider public than the one afforded by a book.”
Mr. Tharoor who deals simultaneously and actively with his parliamentarian duties, has also authored a large volume of fictional and non-fictional work. “If we include the book that is coming out in the next few months, it is 17 books. I’ve various other duties and obligations, including an ongoing legal battle to prove my innocence in the legal case where I’m being made out to be the person that I am not.”
Adding to his over-burdened schedule there is now the web series. “It is important to me. There are many misconceptions about Hinduism in the current times. I am going to be the narrator for the English version of the series. A very distinguished voice will join in for the Hindi version.”
Watch Shashi Tharoor’s Why I am a Hindu Web Series Trailer 01 here:
Cinema is one of the pleasures that Mr. Tharoor has forfeited in the pursuit of a larger good.
He says, “In the past few years my work as a parliamentarian and my writings have occupied a large part of my time. Then there are various other imperative pursuits. For these, I’ve given up many pleasures including cinema and cricket. But there is no regret over these losses. I cannot be a rubber stamp politician. Politics is a tool for me to try and improve the status quo to the best of my abilities. Likewise my writing. Like I said, it is important for me to ensure the thoughts in my book on Hinduism are put out there on a platform where the optimum would be able to receive them.”
Mr. Tharoor’s next book on the four years of Narendra Modi’s government is all set for publication. Being known to be a vocal voice of dissent does the author-politician foresee controversy for his new book?
He replies gently, “Not from the readers, the people who read my books… no, they won’t see anything worthy of dissent. However, I can’t predict how the Government in power would react to the book. Nowadays any hint of dissent is frowned upon by the Government. Unfortunately any criticism of the Government’s policies, no matter how healthy and just, is taken as an attack on individuals who run the Government. This was not the case when we of the Congress I were in power. Criticism of the Government was in fact, encouraged then. Now when we are in the Opposition the rules have changed.”
Mr. Tharoor’s tweets are perceived as works of art, carved and polished with the most chiseled words.
He takes the compliment graciously. “It’s kind of you to say that. But the truth is, I don’t toil over the tweets. The medium demands brevity and one has to finish what one has to say on the shortest possible way.”
In the meanwhile, there are miles and miles to go before Shashi Tharoor takes a long nap. With the ongoing case against him, he admits the bandwidth of his creativity is somewhat shrunk. “There is much more than that I want to do. But current circumstances restrain me from expressing myself fully. Because of the legal issues, I am not even allowed to speak about the case. My one reassurance in this whole situation is that the people I meet do not seem to believe in what I am being accused of. Wherever I go I am met with the same warmth and goodwill that I experienced before.”