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Words’ worth: A delicious sampler ahead of the main course



“Make a lie as good as the truth.” With that, bestseller author Ashwin Sanghi squarely placed fiction home in the realm of imagination — no matter how ‘real’. Dismissing concerns his books may be considered re-telling of history,

Sanghi said, “I take a lot of philosophy, history, anthropology, mythology and science, use it as fictional plot in my stories. But I do not expect anyone to believe it.”

Responding to former Army Chief General V P Malik’s query about the multidisciplinary research, Sanghi said his team even includes translators. His debut novel in 2007, The Rozabel Line, was a theological thriller on the concept that Jesus Christ was buried in Kashmir.

Sanghi was speaking in Chandigarh at the Times LitFest Preview on November 21. The fifth edition of the Times LitFest will be held on November 30 and December 1 at Delhi’s India Habitat Centre packed with over 145 eminent authors, including celebrated names from South Africa, Ireland, United States, United Kingdom and Denmark.

Proving that truth can indeed be stranger than fiction, General Malik in conversation with Lieutenant General (retd) Amar Aul at the preview, shared “surprise” elements from the Kargil war.

General Malik said he was surprised to find the political brass more concerned about the upcoming Lok Sabha elections than the ongoing Kargil war in July 1999. Malik said that during the war he had to request the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee not to declare in public that India would not cross the line of control (LoC). He admitted the Army had indeed crossed LoC to achieve its objectives during the war.

General Malik said he requested the PM to desist when he found Vajpayee speaking in public about the Centre’s direction to not cross the LoC. “Please don’t speak about it in public. We’re following your mandate to not cross; we will continue to follow that. Just in case, if we find it difficult to re-capture our position, our troops would have no other option but to cross the LoC,” said Malik.

As pressure built up from Washington and Islamabad to end the war, Malik said Vajpayee called him. “PM said we should finish the war… One of the excuses he gave was elections had to be held… At the time, we had captured 95% of our positions. We launched three more attacks and finally on July 26, the war was officially ended,” Malik added.

One of the most “surprising things” General Malik said he faced was Election Commission’s July 22 announcement of the Lok Sabha polls. “War was on and it came as a big surprise to me. We had not declared war is over,” the man who led the Kargil war 20 years ago said.

If war can have a lighter note, Lieutenant General AN Aul struck it. He said the initial plan to attack and capture Tololing in Kargil was on June 11, a Friday. “I realised Friday was not auspicious to launch the attack as we have lost to Pakistan several cricket matches played on Friday. Thus, it was suggested the attack be the next day, a Saturday, and we achieved our goal,” Lt Gen Aul said, who headed the 56-Mountain Brigade that captured Tiger Hill.

The preview also included new author on the block, Gulshan Grover, Bollywood’s ‘Bad Man’ who recently published his autobiography ‘Bad Man: The Journey of Bollywood’s Favorite Villain’.

In it, co-actors including Sunil Shetty, Mahesh Bhatt, Ramesh Sippy, Subhash Ghai, Shabana Azmi and others testify that Grover, silver screen’s dreaded villain, is in reality a ‘beeba munda’ (nice guy) of the film industry.

Grover said, “As I do not look like a typical villian — I do not have muscular body, six-feet height or scary looks — initially, producers and directors were not convinced. But, I always used to tell my directors and producers, just roll the camera and then I will show you what a villain is.” His meaty dialogue delivery served as delicious sampler ahead of the main course in Delhi weekend of November 30.

Times Litfest Delhi, presented by Rajnigandha, will be held on November 30 and Dec ember 1, 10am onwards at India Habitat Center, Lodhi Road. Entry is free. Details available at www.TOI.in/ TimesLitfestDelhi

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