Midnight's Children, author Salman Rushdie's controversial magnum opus, is set in India and Pakistan. So, naturally, when Deepa Mehta decided to adapt the literary masterpiece for the silver screen, everyone expected her to shoot parts of the film in Pakistan. When Mehta chose to shoot in Sri Lanka, and give both India and Pakistan a miss, conjecture was rife that she was denied permission to shoot in Pakistan (forcing her to recreate Karachi in Sri Lanka).
It was even rumoured that she backed out to avoid protests from fundamentalist factions.Deepa rubbishes the rumours, saying, "It's absolutely untrue. I never wanted to shoot the film in Pakistan, nor did it cross my mind to shoot in India." It seems, after the failed attempt to shoot a few segments of her 1998 Aamir Khan-Nandita Das-starrer Earth in the sub-continent, she didn't consider the option this time.
In spite of reports suggesting Mehta was "deeply frustrated" and "indignant" about religious fanaticism, she is completely unperturbed. "This (decision) had nothing to do with religious fundamentalists," she says. The choice of shooting location had more to do with historical accuracy than anything else.
Midnight's Children spans the period 1947 to 1977, and the urban landscapes of both India and Pakistan have changed significantly since. "As a result, it would have been very difficult to find the right locations (in either of the countries) for the film," says Mehta.
The director is presently busy with post-production work and plans for the worldwide release of the film towards the end of the year.
Tracing Midnight's Children
Controversy could be Salman Rushdie's middle name, and it was no different when Midnight's Children released in 1980. The novel presents a magic realist account of protagonist Salim Sinai's life, and with it, India's history from the Partition to the Emergency.
The book earned Rushdie a Man Booker Prize in 1981 and the Booker of Bookers in 1993. In 2008, Rushdie agreed to work with director Deepa Mehta on a film version of the book.
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