Deepa Mehta's film Midnight's Children, based on Salman Rushdie's 1980 Booker Prize-winning novel, has been cleared by India's censorship board without any cuts. Considering both Rushdie and Mehta have battled controversies here, the 62-year-old Canada-based director's tweet posted last week said it all: "India here we come - intact! Great news... Midnight's Children went through Indian Censor board without one pic cut. Salman Rushdie and I thrilled.”
Midnight's Children had been viewed as a potentially controversial project within India, since the novel is considered to be critical of former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi.
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The film is set for release early next year by its India distributor, PVR Films, which is owned by India's largest theatrical chain PVR Cinemas. “Of course the censors gave it an 'A' (adults) certificate. That's fine. Midnight's Children is not meant for children,” Mehta was quoted as saying. “But the fact that an adult audience is being treated as a mature viewership is a sign of the changes that are creeping slowly but surely into the Indian socio-political framework.”
Following its world premiere at Toronto, Midnight's Children recently opened the 17th International Film Festival of Kerala in South India. Set against the partition of India and Pakistan following the end of British rule on August 15 1947, the film revolves around two new-born babies who are switched by a nurse in a Mumbai hospital.
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While the Mumbai-born British author has been visiting India over the years, Rushdie's 1988 book Satanic Verses remains banned here. This January his planned appearance at the Jaipur Literary Festival was canceled following reported death threats.
Mehta faced strong opposition against her 1996 lesbian drama Fire -- starring acclaimed actress Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das -- which resulted in some cinemas being attacked. The film had to be pulled out of release over security concerns.
Mehta's next project Water –- revolving around the state of widows in India –- also faced opposition when some groups disrupted the film's shooting in the holy Indian city of Benaras in 2000. The film eventually had to be shot in Sri Lanka, where Mehta also filmed Midnight's Children.
Midnight's Children's ensemble cast includes Satya Bhabha, Shriya Saran, Siddharth, Anupam Kher, Shabana Azmi, Seema Biswas, Shahana Goswami, Rahul Bose, Soha Ali Khan and Darsheel Safary.
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- Salman Rushdie