for 'Slumdog Millionaire', 'Q & A' is mind-boggling: Vikas
By Fakir Hassen
Johannesburg, Jan 27 (IANS) Indian Deputy High Commissioner
to South Africa Vikas Swarup, who was the toast of the events
held here to mark India's 60th Republic Day, says he is overwhelmed
by the international attention showered on him following the
success of the movie "Slumdog Millionaire" that
is based on his book "Q & A".
"Until now I really felt that there was no difficulty
in carrying out my duties as both a writer and a diplomat,
but it's really been mind-boggling, the kind of attention
that the film and the book have got," Swarup told IANS
in an interview.
"It's extremely gratifying that a story which I dreamed
up in my head is now resonating with audiences around the
"When I wrote the book over two months of my spare time
as a diplomat in London, I thought it was a very Indian book
that would appeal only to Indian audiences. Suddenly, not
only has the book gone global, but the film has gone global
and is taking the world by storm," he said.
Swarup's book had already been translated into Hindi, Marathi,
Gujarati and Punjabi before the success of the film.
"There is now also interest in getting a Tamil edition
going and I'm sure there will be interest in other Indian
languages as well. It has already been translated into 37
languages and by the end of this month it may well be 40 because
we have just received offers from Greece, Croatia and other
"Due to the worldwide publicity of the film, many people
are coming forward for the book, which they may have otherwise
not known about."
Lauding Danny Boyle, the director of "Slumdog Millionaire",
Swarup said: "He has done an absolutely fantastic job
with the film - the way he has shot India, the way he has
shot Mumbai. I have never seen anything like it on screen,
"I think this is because he comes as an outsider with
sensitivity into the project, but also as someone who has
real empathy with the people of Mumbai and the city of Mumbai
and I think that shows through in every frame of the film."
Freshly returned from India, where he was busy promoting "Q
& A", Swarup said he was amused by hawkers trying
to sell him pirated versions of his own book.
"I was travelling to the IMAX in Mumbai with my Indian
publisher and at the red light intersections where they try
to sell you pirated editions of various books, on that particular
day, all of them were selling only my book!
"Since my picture was not on the cover of the book, hawkers
pestered me to buy a copy without realising that I had written
it. It was a surreal moment. My publisher said this was a
tale to tell my grandchildren."
"Slumdog Millionaire", which bagged four Golden
Globe awards, is a hot candidate among bookies for the Oscars
but Swarup is not yet sure whether he will attend the biggest
event in world cinema.
"My Japanese publishers want me to attend the film and
book tie-in there. There is an offer to go to Canada. I'm
receiving offers to address universities in America. Obviously,
I can't do all of those things.
"I have to see where in my day job I can get those periods
where there is a lull in which I can perform these other things.
In India I really didn't have a minute's rest with so many
requests for interviews. I had to turn down many of them,"
In South Africa, there will be a charity premiere as well
as appearances at book signings and other screenings of the
"I consider South Africa my current home because I won
my first prize for 'Q & A', the Boeke Prize, here. So
I would love to do as much as I can to promote the book and
the film here but these competing demands have to be reconciled
so I can work out a proper schedule," he added.
Swarup's second book, "Six Suspects", has also been
optioned by the BBC, for a film, and a radio play in 13 languages.
A third book is already in the pipeline.
"It has been conceptualised and I'm very excited about
it. It may not be set in India (like the first two).
What I bring to a book - a fast-paced narrative and engaging
characters - will hopefully be there," he said.
Despite the demands of a literary career, there is no question
of Swarup giving up his job as a diplomat.
"I am constantly bemused by references to me as 'the
former Indian diplomat' and I have to keep reminding people
that I very much have my day job and I have no intention of
giving it up because I love it. It's a great honour for me
to represent my country because India is the flavour of the
world right now."
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