Page last updated at 09:45 GMT, Thursday, 13 November 2008

Midnight's Children to be a film

By Prachi Pinglay
BBC News, Mumbai

Midnight's Children cover
The novel has received worldwide acclaim

Sir Salman Rushdie's 1981 novel about Indian independence, Midnight's Children, is to be made into a movie by the prominent director Deepa Mehta.

The author says that he is willing to work with Ms Mehta, an Indian-born Canadian, to co-write the script. Work is expected to begin next year with hopes that the film will be released in 2010.

In July, the novel won the UK's "Best of the Booker" in a popular vote.

The book tells the story of Saleem Sinai, who was born on the stroke of Indian independence day in 1947.

Sir Salman and Ms Mehta made the announcement at a recent event in New York during the annual Mahindra Indo-American Arts Council (MIAAC) Film Festival.

'Colossal blow'

"I'm delighted that my friend Deepa Mehta has agreed to make a film of Midnight's Children. Her passion for the book, combined with her immense talent as a filmmaker, means that my novel has been placed in the best possible hands. I also look forward to working with her on the screenplay," Sir Salman said in a press statement on the MIACC website.

Salman Rushdie
Rushdie also won the Booker of Bookers award in 1993

In 1997, Sir Salman reacted angrily to a decision by the government in Sri Lanka not to allow the BBC to film an adaptation of his novel Midnight's Children there.

He described it as a colossal blow and said those who objected to the film did not object to the novel, but to him personally.

Published in 1981, Midnight's Children is a fictional memoir. Saleem is one of 1001 children born at the stroke of midnight on 15 August 1947, the very moment of India's independence.

Saleem's life is uncannily intertwined with destiny of the country. The story spans a period of 30 years from 1947 ending with the emergency declared by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1977.

The novel continues to enjoy critical acclaim and is popular across a wide age range.

Sir Salman is the author of several essays, short stories and novels - including his most controversial work, The Satanic Verses, which angered many Muslims and led to death threats against him from Iran.

He was knighted for his services to literature in 2007.

India-born Ms Mehta is now based in Canada. Her elemental trilogy Fire, Earth and Water was Canada's official entry for Oscars.

She has roped in her favourite Indian actors, Nandita Das and Shabana Azmi to play important roles in Midnight's Children.

"I have been aware of the project for a while now and Deepa had recently gotten in touch with me about playing Padma in Midnight's children. I am looking forward to working with Deepa again and being part of such a wonderful story," Ms Das said.

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