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A taste of Rushdie in Kolkata

kolkata Updated: Jan 16, 2013 15:04 IST
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya

Salman Rushdie will not be present in person but his shadow will be all over the second edition of Kolkata Literary Meet (KLM), with filmmaker Deepa Mehta expected to enlighten the audience on how tough it was to film Rushdie’s novel Midnight’s Children.

The film has already struck a controversial note in India and Mehta’s session comes just two days before the film’s release in the country.

After an uncertainty of a couple of months, the film has finally found a distributor in India with PVR cinema agreeing to release it on February 1. It was premiered in Toronto International Film Festival in September 2012.

“Mehta would mainly tell about the difficulties in adapting the novel for film. We hope this would be an exciting event,” Malavika Banerjee, of sports marketing agency Gameplan, which organises KLM, said. While Rushdie’s Satanic Verses is banned in India, Midnight’s Children is not banned.

Apart from Mehta, her husband and producer David Hamilton and actor Rahul Bose would also be present in January 30 session.

The cast includes Satya Bhava, Shabana Azmi, Rahul Bose, Seema Biswas, Anupan Kher, Soha Ali Khan and Sarita Choudhury who plays Indira Gandhi’s role.

The film got censor board’s certificate in December but the board has reportedly asked the producer to edit a portion of Rushdie’s voiceover in reference to former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Interestingly, Indira Gandhi, herself, had moved a British court in 1984, alleging a sentence in the novel was defamatory. Rushdie’s later removed that sentence. In December 2012, Congress supporters who alleged Indira Gandhi has been shown in poor light in this film stalled a repeat screening of the film at Kerala International Film Festival.

For Mehta’s film, Rushdie has not only written the screenplay but has also rendered a voiceover. The writer of Indian origin reportedly sold the director the filming rights of his 1980 novel for only $1.

This is the first time Rushdie wrote a screenplay. The Canada-based director of Indian origin, herself, is controversial in India, where her previous films Fire and Water, too, had faced protests from various quarters.

Last year, Rushdie could not attend the Jaipur Literature Festival, due to protesters who condemned Satanic Verses as blasphemous.