In Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander, Aamir Khan’s character, Sanjay Lal Sharma is a footloose collegian who would rather bunk class to loaf around town and chase a hottie until one day he realises his responsibilities and goals in life. In a note on himself on his website, director Mansoor Khan calls it his ‘pet film’. ‘The theme closely mirrored my life’, he writes.
Today, Khan, once heralded for his debut film Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (QSQT), has gone from being a guy crazy about engineering and artificial intelligence - a love that drove him into the hallowed portals of IIT, Bombay, Cornell University and M.I.T, Boston to study computer science but not quite completing his courses there; a man whose knack for scripts and cinematic sensibilities let him chase dreams on the big screen, and whose search for an equilibrium with his world drove him to settle in Coonoor in 2003 where he runs a 22-acre farmstay, to now, ten years later, being an author and lecturer who wants to alert the world to the need for ‘energy accounting’.
He has been on tour to promote his book ‘The Third Curve, The End of Growth as we know it’, launching it first in New Delhi.
“This is where I was meant to rest. I am in paradise,” says Khan of his latest role. “This is where I was trying to reach even before I got into films.”
It was while navigating his way into acquiring land in Coonoor in 2000 that led Khan to several discoveries and realisations. “Nobody is telling us the cost of our push for growth. The economists have been handing out false tokens that hinge on infinite growth or consumption. Their promise is that everything will be better tomorrow because everything will grow. Financial securities are created to account for this bogus growth. But all it is doing is taking a toll on fossil fuels. There’s no rolling back that cost. They talk of energy alternatives, but there are no absolute alternatives, how much ever you campaign for solar panels and windmills. Those can’t run industries that have to work to satisfy a modern lifestyle,” he says.
There is no continuous growth Khan stresses, a glimpse of which we saw in 2008 when the financial worlds around us collapsed and oil prices peaked. “That’s why the book’s cover has a conceptual graph of growth shown in red and a green graph that reflects the true world and not that of the paper universe of economists. I blame physicists for not taking control. Unfortunately, they too have turned venture capitalists,” he says, sounding consumed and convinced by his perspective.
clear on content
But for all his impassioned implorings, Khan says his book is no rant but a ‘tasty essay’ that has an engaging narration and analysis that cites global data and is based on information he culled from extensive reading. “I started working on the book two years ago - though I was mulling on another book at the time. It was all about connecting the dots for me, for saying the obvious which unfortunately nobody else was. I was clear about the content, I had built it over the talks and debates I had on the subject and the feedback I got. That helped me know what I needed to say, which I have in put together in about 200 pages. My hope is readers recognise the paradigm shift we need to make in how we consume energy. Money and other false assets may grow but energy will not,” Khan says.
Living his way
His views have had an impact on his personal lifestyle too. First was moving away from the city. On the farm, they grows their own food and use solar energy. His and his wife Tina’s ventures into cheesemaking on the farm are supported by gobar gas. “I don’t own shares. I have my money in fixed deposits. Though, I often feel guilty that I am not really walking the talk. I shared this once with Aamir (the actor is also his cousin) and he said I am a thinker and my role therein is different.”
And as one, Khan has found his way forward. Speaking on aspects of Third Curve at a variety of platforms like Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, The Energy & Resource Institute (TERI), New Delhi, and The Foreign Services Institute, New Delhi, Khan is almost shaping into a philosophiser. “I have spo ken at least 100 times on the topic but I never tire which is painful for my wife though,” he jests.
Thought for film
No wonder Khan is finding the touring very encouraging, something he never had to do for his films.
He has planned two more books that will explore even wider subjects. “A short 20-25 minute film is something I am thinking of too but that needs a different kind of effort. Of course, I will route any such effort through Aamir’s production company. But you see not everything can be made into a film.”