Director Deepa Mehta (L) and writer Salman Rushdie arrive at the “Midnight's Children” Premiere at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival.–Photo by AFP

NEW DELHI: A new film of Salman Rushdie's 1981 novel “Midnight's Children”, which is set in India after independence, may not be released in the country, its director has said, blaming “insecure politicians”.

The adaptation, which has been showed at the Toronto International Film Festival in Canada, is due for worldwide release in October or November, but has yet to find an Indian distributor.

“Salman has often said that the book was his love letter to India. I think the film reflects that love,” director Deepa Mehta told the Hindustan Times in Toronto.

“What a pity if insecure politicians deprive the people of India (of the chance) to make up their own minds about what the film means,” she said.

Rushdie's Booker prize-winning novel includes highly critical descriptions of the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who suspended democracy in India between 1975 and 1977 in a period known as “the Emergency”.

The Gandhi family remains at the centre of political life in India, with Indira's daughter-in-law Sonia Gandhi the president of the ruling Congress party and Sonia's son Rahul seen as a potential future prime minister.

The Hindustan Times said Indira's thinly-disguised character is depicted on screen in “a manner that conveys an almost Voldemort-like menace” – a reference to Harry Potter's arch enemy.

Rushdie's 1988 book “The Satanic Verses” remains banned in India for allegedly insulting Islam.

The author, who was born in Mumbai, was forced to withdraw from a literary festival in Jaipur this year after death threats and angry protests from Islamist activists.

He later said that “religious fanaticism, political opportunism and public apathy” were seriously undermining freedom of expression in India.

Rushdie spent a decade in hiding after Iranian spiritual leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa in 1989 calling for his death due to passages in “The Satanic Verses”.

The film version of “Midnight's Children”, which was adapted by Rushdie, was shot in Sri Lanka, where the government came under pressure from Iran to stop the project.

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Comments (27)

Iqbal Hussain
September 10, 2012 7:46 pm
Thanks to India and Pakistan that U have given 'International Publicity-Free of Charge' to Rushdie. Bhai, apna apna kaam karo, leave that .......out of mind and out of sight. Iqbal Hussain.(USA)
September 10, 2012 10:31 pm
Good quality journalisim is always objective..right?
Simon Jenkins
September 10, 2012 7:22 pm
Salman Rushdie is from India and this fact will never change, There is a freedom of speech which he has exercised and cannot be stopped from visiting his country of birth.
September 10, 2012 11:30 pm
It is banned in paksitan too Shahzad and yes youre right it is a pity. Books on religion, be it on Christianity , Islam , Hinduism, Sikhism etc should be read first and then people should be allowed to form their own opinion. Banning something only leads to people wanting to know more about it. Curiosity kills the cat?
September 11, 2012 12:02 am
I feel sorry for this guy Salman Rushdie. He always sees the bad side of things. Such an evil perspective he has. Hope he realizes that the tongue and pen can sometimes do more damage than any physical weponry. People like him make a mockery of freedom of speech.
taranveer singh
September 10, 2012 5:53 pm
he is a great writer of our times
September 11, 2012 12:10 am
India should allow the film to be shown there. This banning of abook or banning of a film is the work of insecure govt/society/religeous leaders.
Surinder Jeet
September 11, 2012 2:07 am
Mr Rizvi, have you heard of Khomeini's fatwa against Rushdie? Was Rushdie the writer of the film which was being shot in Sri Lanka? Makes sense that Khomeini was insecure that Rushdie would become an international celebrity, or does it not?
Mustafa Razavi
September 10, 2012 4:12 pm
Very strange that Iran would have any objections to a movie about India being filmed in Sri Lanka, it is much more likely that Sri Lanka came under pressure from India to stop this project.
September 11, 2012 1:09 pm
screen the film, let the viewers decide.
September 11, 2012 6:32 pm
Muslims complaining about Rushdie should take a minute to ponder. He reigns supreme primarily because of Muslim Protestations. Well known media fact: Controversy sells. He seeks publicity by incitement so he can cry freedom of expression and that makes him a hero of sorts. If people had been more restrained and civil in their reaction or simply ignored his work, he wouldn't have this glorified status.
September 12, 2012 12:48 am
Blaming Pakistan, how typical
September 13, 2012 2:38 am
Rushdie is banned in India because he was disrespectful to the prophet family -- his film will be banned in India because he is disrespectful to another 'holy' family. India is a democratic free speech country except for Salman Rushdie.
September 12, 2012 9:45 am
does freedom of speech means that one can insult the person or thing which other people revere. Having an opinion and presenting it without hurting feelings of others is freedom of speech.
September 11, 2012 3:45 pm
Nicely put Mr. Hussain. I am deeply sadend by these people giving so much attention to this poor guy. I do feel sorry for him for what he focuses upon, but as long as we keep giving attention to his "freedom of speech" he is going to keep making mockery out of people or nations who can be easily provoked. All we are doing is adding fuel to the fire he is instigating. Like you said "apna apna kaam karo" We love our Prophet and it does not matter what other people think or say He is still the "Rehmatulil Aalamin"
Ahmed Rashid
September 10, 2012 9:03 pm
its not a DAWN article mate, its an AFP article, you'll find this article word for word in other newspapers. I had the same objection until I realised it was an AFP article and not a DAWN one
September 11, 2012 2:43 pm
Sadly this has to do with the muslim intolerance towards any one who criticizes their religion. All religions are intolerant to an extent but Islam is the most intolerant of all. Asking writers to be beheaded just because they penned down something which you don't like!
September 10, 2012 11:58 am
Dawn believes that it is only alleged that Rushdie insulted Islam. "Rushdie’s 1988 book “The Satanic Verses” remains banned in India for allegedly insulting Islam." What a pity?
Muhammad Waqas
September 10, 2012 12:17 pm
India...... don't allow him to enter your country and never allow his film to be released in india.....
September 10, 2012 12:23 pm
I wonder what Indians have to say about "Religious fanaticism" being a serious problem in Incredible India .. I am sure the roots of that too lie in Pakistan ..!!! :)
usman qayyum
September 11, 2012 8:16 pm
what r u talking , if anyone use ribald language against any religion . Is that freedom? think urself
September 11, 2012 9:31 pm
“Salman has often said that the book was his love letter to India....". Too bad for Mr. Rushdie its only one sided.
Syed Shah
September 11, 2012 5:22 pm
He is nomore indian. He is a foreigner in India. India has right to deny anyone enterence to the land.
Amin Amdani
September 11, 2012 8:22 pm
I wonder how many of people writing comments have ever read any book written by Salman Rushdie. Yes he is a writer but not a great or unique writer. He became famous only because of controversy at the time of publishing of Satanic Verses when everyone and his brother supported his so called 'freedom of expression'. Freedom Of Expression becomes a big issue when it comes to insulting Islam's prophet or holy book. But the same people hide under pillow covers when some one challenges holocaust. No Freedom Of Expression. If it was not for controversy around Satanic Verses no one would have even heard about Salman Rushdie because his writing skills are at the best mediocre
September 11, 2012 5:29 pm
non sense
September 12, 2012 11:25 am
Have you read Midnight's Children?
September 12, 2012 1:37 pm
Whats your point...? India shouldn't have banned the book?
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