Vikas Swarup: Literature, Diplomacy, and Slumdog Millionaire
2019 Jaipur Literature Festival - Toronto
Many professionals that you will have a chance to meet in your life often have a passion that is different from their day job. I for one am a marketer, but have a deep passion for the arts. Vikas Swarup takes that to another level.
Best known in Canada as the High Commissioner of India to Canada, Vikas Swarup has spent the good part of the last three decades in the world of foreign affairs. Beyond his interest in international diplomacy, he has expressed a sincere passion for the written word, one that was introduced to the world when it became known that it was his work that was adapted into the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire.
We had the great opportunity to chat with him at the inaugural JLF Toronto festival, where we interviewed Indo-Canadian playwright and novelist Anosh Irani.
After joining the Indian Foreign Service in 1986, Vikas spent the next three odd decades serving in multiple countries in various Indian diplomatic missions. These countries included Ethiopia, South Africa, United States and more.
In 2015, he was appointed official spokesperson to the Ministry of External Affairs of India, and then later in 2017 he became Indian High Commissioner to Canada. He was recently appointed as Secretary of Consular, Passport, Visa and Overseas Indian Affairs, a newly created portfolio in the current Indian government.
As mentioned before, Vikas is an avid novelist. His debut novel, Q & A, was released in 2005. The book was critically acclaimed in both India and international markets, and has since been translated into 43 different languages. It was this novel that laid the foundation of Slumdog Millionaire, the 2008 film directed by Danny Boyle that went on to win 8 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Adapted Screenplay. He had since written a number of other novels including Six Suspects (2008) and The Accidental Apprentice (2013).
Photo: Provided Courtesy of JLF Toronto
Our intimate interview during JLF Toronto chronicles his journey as a writer, especially juggling writing and international diplomacy and how the two fields compliment each other. In addition, he dives into the world of film, how literature has become a source of great material for the screen, and how it is still more important than the popular mediums of information today.