Harsimran kaur ON April 13, 2023 , IN BOOK REVIEW, SOUND & FURY BY KARAN THAPAR-NON FICTION
Karan Thapar, eloquent and efficacious, in a fine-tooth-comb of issues that require an opinion is often prepared to cut the bullet with a sword. It’s not easy to cat-a-mouth with the who’s who when any spoken word can become a prisoner of chained dogmas; a telltale of ambiguities often presenting as protuberant lies and some sticking to the thumb unable to be washed off. Watching Karan extrapolate ‘tempestuous tendencies’ to create a rendition of individual perspectives is a de rigueur he never fails to follow.
A cognoscente of his enlightened self, Karan has a peculiar style to interview his guest—persuasive and plenipotentiary. He exudes a symmetrical poweress to confound his guest with not the fiddlestick approbationsthat has become a sine qua non to make interviews more frolicsome. His questions ricochet a response that indulges a memory in retrospect and siphons future inclinations.
His latest book ‘Sound & Fury’ is a repertoire of his interviews conducted over a period of time with the doyens of respective fields. They provide an in-depth calculation and analysis of India’s vision idiosyncratic to personal beliefs and motives.
The voices in the book are murkier questioning the very edifice of Secularism—majoritarianism an avaricious predator to nibble the minority provincialism. ‘The bigger the better’ does not fail to entice us. Insinuations follow and to quote Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS chief, denigrating the religious population imbalance and forced conversions. Secularism needs to be saved. Eminent author and activist, Arundhati Roy in conversation with Karan Thapar transports the country to a precarious spot. To whiff off the intransigence of political opportunist, Farooq Abdullah seems a bit intimidated. Flagellating the Muslims by abrogating Article 370 is a misdeed perhaps! He is genuinely appalled by how India has behaved like an ecdysiast shedding its inhibitions to vilify the Muslim community.
In cognizance of the facts and figures, Karan opens a can of worms to bravely acknowledge the maelstrom of Indian politics; the reprisals that follow inundate Secularism being in danger.
At the end of each interview, one realizes that discussions, discourses and debates are an essential part of democracy. India is privileged, in fact we all take pride in the eternal freedom of free speech. But the bitterness prevails. Free speech is being offensively guarded by the rabble-rousers giving democracy a run for its derring-do. 75 years of Indian democracy has been a magnum opera—the plain symphonies rising to a staccato, flung to the lowest decibel to finally reach a crescendo. Issues like ‘rising of the Hindu-Rashtra’, ‘Southern states conundrum’ and the ‘Hindi language fiasco’ has plagued the nation. In conversation with Romila Thapar and Ramachandra Guha, it is not wrong to assess and ascertain that governance has changed in the last 75 years. In the midst of re-interpretations, the political structure in India has given a piquant beak to some and many have been left to grit like a horse.
The India-China subterfuge is a hot seat circumambulated by incandescent wires, and Karan makes sure that conversations pertaining to the irredentist claims need mighty fisticuffs. Avtar Singh Bhasin, former head of the Historical division of the Ministry of External Affairs, builds up a quagmire of disillusions and deprecating sensibilities. The border issue is still the bulbous leopard that refuses to slither off fixing its paws where it desires. To further channelize the history and the present predicaments, Kanti Bajpai gives clarity on the India-China political and economic pantomime.
On a lighter note, conversations with Shashi Tharoor and Indra Nooyi give an individualistic perspective of dreaming big and giving relevant structure to them.
Assuming as it may sound, interviews at any level are an agglomeration of facts and fisticuffs and Karan Thapar is an aficionado in cracking open the nut of bemusements and bedevils. Watching him is always a charming affair and now reading the ‘hard talk’ is absorbing and a feast of pregnable polemics.
Sound & Fury is all about temptations we resist and sometimes overwhelmingly indulge in for our self-centered invasiveness. But not all is about ‘me, my ego’. A lot has to be sacrificed to build a personality that is not only admirable to us but to the ‘nation’ as a whole. The guests interviewed need applause for their intrinsic opinions about the current milieu of ‘India’ and how they foresee its growth and prosperity.
The conversations are full of riposte and reckons. Karan being an indulgent conversationalist has the acumen to disinter the evolving mind and does so with aplomb. The discussions too are a chiaroscuro of denials and acceptance.
Wonderfully crafted to understand the core impulses of our ‘nation’!