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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 43-44 October 21 & 28, 2023

Review of Mansoor Khan’s ’ONE: The Story of the Ultimate Myth’ | T Vijayendra

Saturday 21 October 2023, by T. Vijayendra



by T. Vijayendra

ONE: The Story of the Ultimate Myth

by Mansoor Khan

Harper Collins India
2023, Pp. 145

Available at Amazon Rs. 449/-

It is a gem of a book! It is a small book, 145 pages. It is a fiction, a novella. Very satisfactory reading! Reminds me of the feeling I got after reading some of the great novellas - Lu Hsun’s ‘The True Story of Ah Q’ or Rajinder Singh Bedi’s ‘Ek Chadar Maili Si’. It has the touch of a film editor – not a single wasted word.


Mansoor Khan wore many hats in his 65 years of life. Born in Hyderabad, Telangana, in 1958, he is the son of Nasir Hussain, a filmmaker. He attended IIT Bombay, Cornell and MIT to study electronics, before joining his family profession of filmmaking. He directed the award-winning blockbuster ‘Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak’ and four years later produced another successful film: Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar. He moved to Coonoor in the Nilgiris and had a 30-acre farm and ran a homestay and produced cheese. In 2012 he published his analysis of the current crisis of capitalism, ‘The Third Curve: The End of Growth as we know it’.


In the present book he takes his analysis further. His thesis is that civilization is the single human culture behind the convergent global crisis often erroneously blamed on all humans. By the word civilization he means man’s control over nature, modifying it for his own benefit, beginning with agriculture some 10,000 years ago. This he contrasts with indigenous culture of hunter gatherers.

There is a long tradition of it, starting with Henry David Thoreau’s nineteenth century book, ‘Walden’. So powerful is the tradition that Walden is still in print. More recently as the author himself acknowledges is the book by Fukuoka, ‘One Straw Revolution’ and the strain of primitive anarchism by Zerzen and others.

The beauty of the book lies in the fact it is that he does it through fiction. There are two protagonists in it. One is Sonal, a professor of social anthropology who, while supporting the Indian movement of the Param Nadi Bachao Andolan loses her mind. The other is Abhay, a plant genetic engineer who, confronted by an anti-GMO activist realizes that his research on GMO, instead solving the world hunger problem, may end up harming as did earlier chemical agriculture. He loses his job and becomes a paranoid fugitive.

They come together and put together a theory, attempt to apply it in a practical way and in the process cure themselves also. However, there is a dramatic tragic end to the story.

There is a book within the book, called ‘ONE’. It is Abhay’s book on his theory. It is beautifully explained with the help of graphics. That makes it a special feature of the book.

The fiction form and the background to the contemporary Indian movement make it easy for the Indian activists to relate and make the book credible and convincing. Thus it is addressed to the Indian ‘green’ activists, but as the author, ‘truly believes that this book must be ‘seeked’ and not given.’ So, do go and buy it if you think it resonates with your ideas! And if you are intrigued with these ideas, reading the book may enlighten you too!

October 8, 2023

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