Tag Archive for 'Midnight’s Children'

Why Salman Rushdie could not set foot in Calcutta

In The Telegraph:

The state machinery swung into action to prevent Salman Rushdie from setting foot in Calcutta today and launched an equally spirited effort to conceal its footprints, accounts from multiple sources and events through the day suggest.

 Hours after it was confirmed that Rushdie would not reach the city, one of the senior-most government officials made a statement at Writers’ Buildings on one condition: his name cannot be revealed.

 The official declared: “The state had no information about Salman Rushdie’s visit. But a rumour spread last evening that the author was supposed to come to the city for a series of programmes. The city police were asked to enquire about this. The Mumbai police confirmed to the city police that Rushdie was not supposed to visit Calcutta today (Wednesday). The city police informed the state home secretary last night.” More:

Midnight’s Children the movie: “the story of modern India movingly told”

Amit Roy reviews the movie in The Telegraph:

In the West, there have been a few reviews that are a trifle lukewarm but they are to be ignored for far too often reviewers have allowed their personal hostility to Rushdie, the person, to colour their assessment of the film.

 Also, the film is almost a private dialogue between Deepa Mehta and Salman Rushdie, the director and screenplay writer, respectively, and Indians across the world.

 When Mumtaz (who is to be Saleem Sinai’s mother) is falling in love with Nadir Khan, she tells him the food she has prepared for him is getting cold.

 “Eat, nah?” Mumtaz urges Nadir, who is to be her first husband.

 Foreigners may be puzzled by this exchange but Indians will understand the emotion conveyed in Mumtaz’s words.

 There is an amusing exchange between Dr Aadam Aziz and his wife, Naseem Ghani, on their wedding night. She had been his patient, first spotted through the perforated sheet (he was done for after he had a good feel of her breast).

 On their marital bed, he would like his bride to be, well, a bit more responsive.

When he encourages Naseem to “move, like a woman”, she retorts angrily that he must have met foreign women with dubious ways when he was abroad training to be a doctor: “Listen Dr Saab, husband or no husband, I’m not the moving type….” More:

The Departed: By Salman Rushdie

In Ihe New Yorker:


Afterward, when the world was exploding around him, he felt annoyed with himself for having forgotten the name of the BBC reporter who told him that his old life was over and a new, darker existence was about to begin. She called him at home, on his private line, without explaining how she got the number. “How does it feel,” she asked him, “to know that you have just been sentenced to death by Ayatollah Khomeini?” It was a sunny Tuesday in London, but the question shut out the light. This is what he said, without really knowing what he was saying: “It doesn’t feel good.” This is what he thought: I’m a dead man. He wondered how many days he had left, and guessed that the answer was probably a single-digit number. He hung up the telephone and ran down the stairs from his workroom, at the top of the narrow Islington row house where he lived. The living-room windows had wooden shutters and, absurdly, he closed and barred them. Then he locked the front door.

It was Valentine’s Day, but he hadn’t been getting along with his wife, the American novelist Marianne Wiggins. Five days earlier, she had told him that she was unhappy in the marriage, that she “didn’t feel good around him anymore.” Although they had been married for only a year, he, too, already knew that it had been a mistake. Now she was staring at him as he moved nervously around the house, drawing curtains, checking window bolts, his body galvanized by the news, as if an electric current were passing through it, and he had to explain to her what was happening. She reacted well and began to discuss what they should do. She used the word “we.” That was courageous.

A car arrived at the house, sent by CBS Television. He had an appointment at the American network’s studios, in Bowater House, Knightsbridge, to appear live, by satellite link, on its morning show. “I should go,” he said. “It’s live television. I can’t just not show up.” More:

Salman Rushdie gets back to his day job

Rick Groen in The Globe and Mail:

“Fuck ’em. To hell with them. Actually, my life has been pretty much your average writer’s life for over a decade now. But I remember Martin Amis had this phrase back when it happened; he said that I had ‘vanished onto the front page.’ So I feel happy to have re-emerged onto the book pages and now the film pages.”

Yes, the voice is Rushdie’s. He has arrived – light grey suit, unbuttoned dress shirt, black boots, thinning hair, stumpy hands, a garrulous imp – to break, no shatter, the strange office silence. Some writers, certainly not all, are born talkers and, for over two hours, his conversation flows in tributaries, surging forth into passionate pronouncements, branching off into witty anecdotes, generous in its depth and ease. I can’t speak to his reputation as a party animal, or to that parade of four ex-wives on the domestic scene, yet this much is evident: The public Salman Rushdie is a gracious, charming and, apparently, unscarred fellow.

The river of talk opens with two “splashes,” a pair of his creative efforts come to fruition almost simultaneously. The first, set to unspool as a gala at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 9, is the adaptation of Midnight’s Children, his most critically lauded novel, directed by Deepa Mehta and written for the screen by Rushdie himself. The second, slated for release a mere 9 days later, is Joseph Anton, his memoir of the fatwa period. The title refers to the pseudonym he employed then (think Conrad and Chekhov), and the contents, sight unseen, promise to be a publishing sensation. Indeed, the sight had damned well better stay unseen – the book is being treated like a state secret.

“I’ll get killed if I talk about it now. Commandos will come through the door.” Big hearty laugh. No doubt, in the memoir, words like “kill” and “commando” will be loaded. Here, they’re happily playful again, returned to their healthy place in the land of self-effacing humour. More:


A Tall Story – How Salman Rushdie Pickled All India (1 of 3)

via 3quarksdaily

Salman Rushdie, author of Midnight’s Children, winner of the Booker Prize 1981, talks about India and the autobiographical elements in the book.

Part two here and three here

Swing away from sanity

In The Telegraph, Mukul Kesavan on what’s wrong with illiberal arguments

I knew about Imran Khan in a second-hand way well before I’d heard of Salman Rushdie. India didn’t play Pakistan at Test cricket till 1978, so Indian cricket fans didn’t know that much about Pakistani cricketers through the Seventies, but we knew about Imran, mainly because of a three Test series in Australia in 1976-77 where Imran’s bowling made sure that honours were even at the end of it. This was a real achievement, given that the Australians had wiped the West Indies out, 5-1 in a six Test rubber not long before. Then Bishen Singh Bedi’s team toured Pakistan in 1978 and Indians got to see Imran in awesome action, in live, black-and-white telecasts. We lost 2-0 and Imran’s fast in-swingers had a great deal to do with that defeat. I remember thinking at the time that it was the first time I had seen a genuinely quick south Asian bowler in action.

Salman Rushdie became part of the collective consciousness of anglophone Indians in early 1981 when his second novel, Midnight’s Children, was published. For many desireaders of my generation, Midnight’s Children was proof that it was possible for a post-colonial Indian writer to write ambitious fiction in English. There had been many worthwhile novels written in English by Indians after 1947 but none that had used the language in this unafraid, proprietorial way. I was a graduate student in Cambridge at the time the book was published and I watched Rushdie collect the Booker Prize on television (it was the first year that the BBC did a live telecast of the event). There were similarities with my first sighting of Imran: I watched the telecast in black-and-white because a black-and-white TV set was all my friends could afford; also, it felt like a sporting contest. According to the bookies, the two main contenders for the prize were Rushdie and D.M. Thomas (for The White Hotel). Everyone in that room was a desirooting for Rushdie; our team won. more

On Rushdie visit and free speech

For a moment of statesmanship

Manu Joseph in Open:

The Indian government, on the other hand, is a direct beneficiary of not only electoral politics but of the powerful values on which this country was built. If the Indian government enjoys far greater dignity than the Pakistani government, if the Indian Army general has to plead his case with the government or fight in the Supreme Court against it for a one-year extension of his term while, historically, the situation has been the reverse in Pakistan, it is because of the philosophical foundation of modern India. But the government has often chosen the cowardice of practicality over the courage of morality. And it has, once again, failed to stand up against religious thugs because it is afraid that it will lose Muslim voters in UP and elsewhere, who are crying hoarse anyway saying that they are not so stupid. It is atrocious that a representative of such a government will allow himself to be a guest speaker at the Jaipur Literature Festival when his government has not guaranteed the security of Salman Rushdie. More:

It’s a two-way street

Namita Bhandare in Hindustan Times:

Three parables from modern India. A man writes a book that offends some people enough to ban it and, for good measure, demand his head. Salman Rushdie goes underground, in time the fatwa is forgotten, he emerges from hiding and continues writing and travelling.

Then, a curious thing happens. He is invited, again, to attend the Jaipur Literature Festival. His name appears on the programme, again. Out pops seminary Darul Uloom Deoband demanding his visa be revoked (in fact, as Rushdie tweets, he does not require a visa). It is no coincidence that a state election where Muslims are a sizeable presence, is around the corner. It does not matter that most have not read the still-banned Satanic Verses. Yet, a Congress spokesman replies cautiously that the government is ‘considering’ the request; others hint at law and order problems and Rushdie cancels his visit. More

Salman Rushdie and India’s new theocracy

Praveen Swami in The Hindu:

Salman Rushdie’s censoring-out from the ongoing literary festival in Jaipur will be remembered as a milestone that marked the slow motion disintegration of India’s secular state. Islamist clerics first pressured the state to stop Mr. Rushdie from entering India; on realising he could not stop, he was scared off with a dubious assassination threat. Fear is an effective censor: the writers Hari Kunzru and Amitava Kumar, who sought to read out passages from The Satanic Verses as a gesture of solidarity, were stopped from doing so by the festival’s organisers. More:

Vikas Bajaj in NYT:

Mr. Rushdie’s cancellation is the latest in a series of blows to free speech in India that have included a court challenge to Google and Facebook for what a petitioner claimed was content that is offensive to various religious groups, and a proposal by a senior Indian minister to prescreen content posted on social networking sites.

The Indian Constitution offers its citizens only a qualified right to free speech and allows the government to restrict speech if it deems it offensive or unacceptable to community sentiments. Moreover, the national government has often done little to protect artists, authors and others who have been singled out for violent protests by religious, ethnic and other groups. Maqbool Fida Husain, one of modern India’s greatest painters, died last year in London after living in self-imposed exile for the last several years because the government could not guarantee his safety from right-wing Hindu groups that criticized his paintings of Hindu goddesses. More:

At Jaipur LitFest, writers read excerpts from The Satanic Verses in support of Rushdie

Symbols of swaraj

On India’s Independence Day, Express Eye looks at some enduring symbols of swaraj:

The Date: August 15

The true significance of dates is often lost in the fog of time. Few remember why August 15 was chosen as the day when India would, in Nehru’s immortal words, awake to freedom. The original decision, taken by the Labour Government in Britain headed by Clement Atlee in 1946, was for the British to leave India by June 1948 at the latest. By 1946, Britain was in no position to continue ruling distant India. Its coffers had been emptied by World War II, and it had neither the domestic mandate nor international support to continue to control a country that was sliding into civil strife, with its leaders upping the ante for self-rule and a separate homeland for Muslims. In early 1947, Britain announced its intention of transferring power and sent Lord Mountbatten as the new Viceroy to preside over it. More

The Red Fort

Just as Republic Day is associated with Rajpath and Raisina Hill, the red sandstone ramparts of the Red Fort provide both the setting and the symbolism for Independence Day. This is the venue for the main official event on August 15, the Prime Minister hoisting the National Flag and delivering the Independence Day speech, usually a listing of his/her government’s achievements over the past year. Jawaharlal Nehru started the ritual when he unfurled the new Indian flag and delivered an inspiring speech on August 16, a day after India gained independence. The choice of Red Fort as the venue was largely symbolic; the massive 17th century complex served as the capital palace of the Mughal empire till 1857 when the British overthrew its last emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, to start its rule over India. More

The other symbols:

Jana Gana Mana

Vande Mataram

Teen Murti Bhavan

Parliament House

The National Flag

The First Indian Flag


Train to Pakistan

Ambedkar Museum

The Navin Jindal Initiative

The Speech

The Emblem of India


The New York Parade

Midnight’s Children


The Rising: Ballad of Mangal Pandey

India Gate/Rashtrapati Bhavan

Mother India

Independence Cup


Bhagat Singh Memorial

Museum of Indian Independence

August Kranti Maidan

Gandhi topi

Gateway of India

Full story here

[Image: The cover of AR Rahman's 1997 album Vande Mataram]

Midnight’s Children, the movie

Stephanie Nolen in The Globa and Mail:

Deepa Mehta steps from the shadows between two slum shacks, into the path of a young man a foot taller and 30 years younger than she is.

She plants a swift right hook on his jaw, then a knee in his gut. He slumps forward, and she pulls his limp body onto her slight shoulders and hefts.

“There,” she says, brushing hands briskly against her cargo pants. “Like that.”

And then one of Canada’s most celebrated directors releases the body of her star and steps back into the shadows. Now her two young actors know just how she wants them to brawl, and Mehta can resume her customary on-set demeanour, a sort of Zen pixie in braids, poised to roll the camera on a pivotal scene.

The fight scene comes a few days before Mehta wraps her film version of Salman Rushdie’s 1981 novel Midnight’s Children. It’s the largest production ever by the controversial Mehta, of the book that won the even more controversial Rushdie the Booker of Bookers prize. Because of that potent combination, the filming had to be kept ultrasecret, hidden away in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in an effort (only partly successful) to keep the fundamentalists at bay.

“He’s got the Muslims,” says Mehta, wryly assessing the field of people who might want to stop this film. “And I’ve got the Hindus.” More:


Around midday, from Mt Sinai

Thirty years after Salman Rushdie wrote Midnight’s Children, Anvar Alikhan re-examines the innards of a classic. In Outlook.

It’s now thirty years since Midnight’s Children was published. When Salman Rushdie first sent the manuscript to the publishers, the initial reaction was damning: “The author should concentrate on short stories”. Fortunately, they ultimately changed their minds and the book, of course, went to become the most celebrated of Booker Prize winners. Rushdie was a few years senior to me in Bombay’s Cathedral School and one place I often remember seeing him as a kid was at the Metro cinema: we were members of something called the Metro Cub Club, which screened film shows for kids on Saturday mornings. Many years later, reading Rushdie’s interview in The Paris Review, I discovered that he believes the turning point in his life as a writer was watching The Wizard of Oz at the Metro as an 11-year-old: he went straight home and wrote his first story, ‘Over the Rainbow’, about a little boy who’s walking down a Bombay footpath when he suddenly finds the beginning of a rainbow, with steps cut into it, which takes him up into a fairy-tale world in the sky. By some freak chance I, too, saw The Wizard of Oz at the Metro Cub Club, which means I must have been sitting just a few seats away while one of the world’s great literary epiphanies was being shaped. more

Salman Rushdie and friends in conversation: The only subject is love


Novelist Sir Salman Rushdie, Emory professor Dr. Deepika Bahri, filmmaker Deepa Mehta and writer Christopher Hitchens discuss love, sex, writing, stories and friendship. The conversation was inspired by Rushdie’s assertion in his 1999 essay on the anniversary of the fatwa that “love feels more and more like the only subject.” Emory University.

Deepa Mehta in conversation: The only subject is love


Indian filmmaker Deepa Mehta and Dr. Matthew Bernstein, Emory Professor of Film Studies, discuss Mehta’s friendship with Salman Rushdie, her beautiful Elements film trilogy, issues of censorship in India and Mehta’s forthcoming adaptation of Rushdie’s novel “Midnight’s Children.” Emory University

I’m a film buff: Rushdie

Booker prize winner Salman Rushdie is in Mumbai with film-maker Deepa Mehta for the film adaptation of his book Midnight’s Children. Excerpts from the Times of India:

On meeting Amitabh Bachchan: I’ve met Mr. Bachchan before, in New York, and at both meetings, he was a charming, gracious presence.

On asking Deepa Mehta to film the novel: Her passion for my work and my admiration of hers.

Does Midnight’s Children have a ‘filmable’ quality? Now that we have a screenplay we like, I would say that, yes, Midnight’s Children is eminently filmable. I have been a film buff all my life and believe that the finest cinema is fully the equal of the best novels.

Rushdie honoured, again

Sir Salman Rushdie’s 1981 novel Midnight’s Children has been voted the favourite Booker prize-winner of all time. Rushdie in Chicago to promote his latest novel, The Enchantress of Florence, said, “I have to say this is just a marvellous moment for me and for Midnight’s Children … I’m slightly lost for words which usually I’m not.” His sons Zafar and Milan accepted the trophy.

More here:

‘Everybody needs to get thicker skins’

Rushdie talks to Stuart Jeffries of The Guardian about The Satanic Verses, surviving a fatwa, and why free speech is as important as ever.

Salman Rushdie is sitting at the desk of Rabbi Judith Lazarus Siegal sipping Grey Goose vodka. This seems the wrong thing to do in a Jewish temple, but apparently it isn’t: another rabbi drops by to suggest that he gets his juicer and we make daiquiris. The author politely declines: he takes his vodka neat. It’s a literary thing. “Vikram Seth apparently likes a clear drink in his glass too when he gives readings,” says Rushdie, “though in his case I believe it’s gin.”


‘We should be celebrating this literary triumph’

Christina Patterson in The Independent:

From the first stroke of midnight, I was hooked. It wasn’t midnight, actually. It was just after lunch in a garden in Italy, and the Italian family I was staying with were shuttered inside, asleep. As a sun-starved teenager from Guildford, I wasn’t going to waste a wave of sunshine nor a single moment, because the clock had struck, and a character, and a nation, and a passion had been born.


‘We should not be celebrating this literary triumph’

DJ Taylor in The Independent:

One of my sharpest memories from student days is of traipsing the winter pavements of Oxford in December 1981, desperately searching for an unsold copy of Midnight’s Children, thenearmarked as somebody’s Christmas present. A month into the new year, Rushdie turned up at a college arts festival, and I picked my way through the January slush to luxuriate in his glow.


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