Deepa Mehta to make film on Rushdie's 'Midnight's Children'

New York, Nov 7 (IANS) Acclaimed Indian-Canadian film director Deepa Mehta will make a film based on "Midnight's Children", the Booker of Bookers Prize winning novel of India-born British author Salman Rushdie.

The writer himself will appear in the film, which is expected to be completed by 2010, Rushdie and Mehta announced at a press conference here Thursday.

Actress and social activist Shabana Azmai has agreed to act in the proposed film, so has Seema Biswas of the "Bandit Queen" fame. Actress Nandita Das will also be in the cast.

Making the announcement on the sidelines of the ongoing MIAAC Film Festival, Rushdie and Mehta said they will be co-writing the screenplay on the novel, which is spread over 600 pages.

Published in 1981, "Midnight's Children" is the fictional memoir of Saleem Sinai, one of 1,001 children born at the stroke of midnight on Aug 15, 1947.

"I am absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to bring Saleem, his journey, and the incredible world he inhabits to the screen. To collaborate with Salman on the script, to have access to his humour and his sensibility is a process I am immensely looking forward to," Mehta said.

The two celebrities of Indian origin have been working on the project for quite some time now, they said, adding that they would soon sit down to start writing the script.

Delighted that Mehta has agreed to make a film on "Midnight's Children", Rushdie said: "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."

Mehta, who has read the book twice so far, said: "In literature there are only a handful of characters that remain indelible in my mind. On top of my list is Saleem, the protagonist of Salman's brilliant novel 'Midnight's Children'."

Mehta, Rushdie and Azmi are in New York to participate in the MIAAC Film Festival. The five-day festival had a glittering opening Wednesday with the New York premier of Mehta's latest film "Heaven on Earth" starring Preity Zinta.

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