Author Ravi Shankar: I am addicted to great crime fiction

This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

Ravi Shankar has spent thirty years as a journalist changing avatars: cartoonist, reporter, art director and editor, with television being his current curiosity.

He has written three novels, The Tiger by the River, the Village of the Widows and his latest, The Gold of Their Regrets. He is a crime fiction aficionado holding the firm conviction that the Mahabharata is one of the greatest thrillers ever written and wonders why Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment is not treated as a crime novel. The last two of his novels are crime novels.

The latest, The Gold of Their Regrets, published by Penguin, is about the mystery of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s death, a missing INA war chest, and a treasure hunt that starts in Burma and ends in Kerala.

What are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading this amazing crime novel The Mao Case by Qiu Xiaolong. It’s set in Shanghai, deals with post-1930s China – that traumatic period when Jiang Quing used the Red Guards to wipe out millions of artists and how the past is now coming back to haunt Inspector Chen.

Fun to you is…
Drinking champagne, digging into foie gras and singing Kahin door jab din dhal jaaye in a Paris café and getting everyone to applaud.

If you were invisible for a day, you would…
Teleport myself to Afghanistan and assassinate the entire terrorist leadership.

The one invention you’re really waiting for…
A flying automobile. The bumper to bumper life makes me want to bump people off.

Would you like to be young forever?
Not really. Dorian Gray is so boring. Who would want a mirror as an insurance policy?

Your idea of a perfect meal?
There is a haveli in the Kanotha thikana near Jaipur which houses an ancient, exclusive recipe book handwritten by generations of feudals for their personal feasts. I would love to dine on anything from it – spicy lamb marinated and cooked in milk, safri maas and more.

Weekend at a wellness spa or weekend at a luxury beach resort?
A luxury beach resort any day. A sunset meal with champagne with the waves lapping at your ankles – there is a private beach in Amalfi which can be accessed only through a lift built into a cliff.

Your worst date ever…
9/11. It changed the world and disabused me of the enduring romance of civilisations.

Rate in order of importance: Fame, money, power
Money, power, fame.

The place you really want to visit?
Hell. Lots of interesting people there and I want to check out the sauna.

Ethnic wear or western wear?
Western. Linen and cotton in summer and soft wool and cashmere in winter.

Are you a morning person or a night person?
Night. Owl’s well that ends well.

What are you addicted to?
Great crime fiction.

The naughtiest thing you’ve ever done (as an adult!)?
I’m not an adult!

What’s your retirement dream?
Living in my Landsdowne hilltop house among dense pines with my lover and my dogs, along with crates and crates of good single malt and some great barbeque. And travel intermittently to places I have never heard of previously.

Three people from history you’d like to meet…
Emperor Akbar, Alexander The Great & Cesare Borgia

Which film’s hero do you most identify with?
Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca

Your favourite drink?
Single Malt Whisky

Your next move?
Depends on who you are talking about.

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