The Optimist Citizen

Bollywood director Mansoor Khan now making Cheese in the hills of Coonor to promote sustainable living

Bollywood’s well-known director Mansoor Khan, who has made successful films like Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, is now settled in the small but beautiful town of Coonoor amid the mesmerizing Nilgiris.

When I met him, my first question was, “What made you leave the glistening world of Bollywood and settle in these hills?” He replied, “I never wanted to be ‘a part’ of the film world. I always knew I wanted to spend my life away from the fast pace of cities and amidst natural surroundings. However, I had spent a lot of my parents’ money on my education, and somewhere I felt guilty about it. I wanted to prove to them that I can take responsibilities and make a decent living. So I reflected on myself and thought what I would be good at. I realised that I could be a good story-teller and that’s how I decided to try my luck in the world of cinema. However, even at that time, I was very sure that it would only be a temporary phase. Eventually, I had to go and settle amid nature. I had even bought a piece of land in Alibag.”

When Khan was taking his first few steps in this direction he painfully realised that industrial development has smothered traditional education. It was at this point in his life that Khan was thinking of settling down in Alibag. However, the government had other plans. In a massive project to build an airport in the region, the government acquired the land of 30,000 farmers. “This incident forced me to question the idea of ‘development’. I started to do deep research on it, and I learnt that the ‘development’ that everyone was talking about was very different from reality”, says Mansoor.

“This changed my way of thinking, and I moved with my wife and children to Coonoor in 2003. Even in Coonoor, I continued my research. A result of this research was my first book, titled ‘The Third Curve: The End of Growth as We Know It’,” he added. Khan’s book throws light on the ground realities of modern development, and how we are being made to believe in the ‘unlimited opportunities’ of our ‘limited’ natural resources. The book also challenges the foundation of modern economics, its dependence on energy and how a handful of people are pushing this fake ‘developed’ economy which will consequently destroying the planet.

Mansoor Khan with his wife

“We are merely puppets in this kind of an economy and we are not even aware of who is controlling us,” says Khan who spends most of his time these days looking after his farm estate, taking care of his guests, making cheese, travelling the country and addressing youth on fundamental issues.

People often ask Khan how he has been able to leave city like Mumbai and live in a forest. To this, Khan always laughs and replies, “I live in this small town because it has given me happiness.”

Khan’s aim is to strengthen the local economy in an effort to step out of the web of global economy. “Here, we are able to make our lives natural and easy through our small initiatives. I have 10 cows that give us milk to produce cheese. To produce cheese, we convert cow dung into biogas. We even utilise our waste as manure for fields where we grow our vegetables. We use solar energy as much as possible and we’ve even used local soil to make bricks for our house,” he says, adding that all their simple efforts are merely stemming out of common sense.

“Luckily, there’s still hope for improvement in our country because majority of our population is dependent on frugal means of living. They preserve resources, utilise them efficiently and earn their livelihood from land. All we need is to understand this illusion of development and economy — which the world is trying to make us believe in — and instead work on preserving our resources”, Mansoor stated with an undeterred optimism.

Rahul Karanpuriya | 52 Parindey

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