Making Midnight’s Children was ‘Intimidating’: Deepa Mehta

WASHINGTON, DC: The “strongest female characters in a novel ever,” and “the search for identity and family” were two of the biggest reasons why she chose to direct the film Midnight’s Children, said Deepa Mehta, talking to the audience at a special screening of the film at the 27th annual Washington, DC International Film Festival here.

The film, based on the novel by Salman Rushdie – who has also written its screenplay and has lent his voice as the narrator – will open in theaters in the US on May 21st.

“People have asked me why Midnight’s Children. There are a couple of reasons. One is because, even though it is the story of Saleem Sinai, and his journey and the journey of India, post-colonial India, one of the reasons I really wanted to do it is because it has one of the strongest female characters in a novel ever,” said Mehta, speaking before the screening. “And that was so amazing. And the other reason is being an immigrant to Canada from India and having two homes and the search for an identity and the search for family, to be sort of coping with reinventing oneself… [you are] always questioning: ‘am I Canadian, am I Indian, Indian-Canadian. That search is the essence of Midnight’s Children.”

Taking questions from the audience after the screening, Mehta said she has been friends with Rushdie for about 10 years, and it was not Midnight’s Children, but Shalimar the Clown that interested her as a potential film initially.

“In fact, Richard Gere was really interested in playing the American Ambassador,” said Mehta talking of her relationship with the novelist and how the film transpired. “Salman was in Toronto for a book tour, and he had come over for dinner… and we had started about working together again. To this day, I don’t know why I said it because it was totally instinctive and it was totally spontaneous. And I asked him who has the rights to Midnight’s Children. And Salman said, I do. And I said, how do you feel about me making it. And he said, ‘Done.’…  it really was as easy as that.”



Date added: 
Tuesday, April 16, 2013 - 12:00pm