Fenil and Bollywood

I have the movies in my blood-Salman Rushdie

Posted on: January 13, 2010

FROM BOOKS TO MOVIES: Salman Rushdie and (inset) Amitabh Bachchan

Salman Rushdie in an exclusive chat with BT on his visit to Mumbai, Bollywood, the Big B, etc…

SUBHASH K JHA Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; January 13, 2010)

Salman Rushdie, who visited Mumbai recently to meet Amitabh Bachchan, Irrfan Khan, Shahana Goswami and Shabana-Javed Akhtar for the film adaptation of his book Midnight’s Children, talked to BT about his trip here. The eminent novelist lives in New York, travels the world, but claims to have multiple roots also in London and still in Bombay. “I feel at home in all three cities,” he said.
Filmmaker Deepa Mehta, who accompanied Rushdie through his Bollywood yatra, said he enjoyed every minute of his stay in Mumbai. “As far as I could see, there’s no fear to his life. He travels in a relaxed atmosphere. I couldn’t see any security arrangements,” reported Deepa, who has collaborated with him on the screenplay of Midnight’s Children. Excerpts from the interview:
BT: Was your Bollywood yatra a fulfilling experience?
SR: Yes, Deepa and I have embarked on a long and exciting journey and meeting actors and fitting them to roles has been an exciting step on that journey.
BT: How do you cope with unwanted attention? Is security still a looming issue in your life?
SR: I’m pretty good at protecting my privacy and my family’s.
BT: You seem to be affiliated to Mumbai’s show world in many ways. Parts of one of your novels is even said to be inspired by Amitabh Bachchan’s life… SR: Well, I grew up in the city, so I have the movies in my blood, I suppose. The illness of my character Gibreel in The Satanic Verses was a sort of echo of an illness of Mr. Bachchan’s.
BT: Do you keep abreast of Indian cinema? Which are the recent Indian films, filmmakers and actors you’ve liked?
SR: I’m a fan of many actors and filmmakers. When we’ve finished casting the movie you’ll know who my favourites are!
BT: Among the novels in your oeuvre which do you consider your most accomplished work, and why?
SR: I don’t choose between my literary children.
BT: What do you seek in your association with India?
SR: I’m not seeking anything in particular, just continuing a lifetime connection that I value personally as well as creatively.
BT: Mumbai, during this visit, brought you in contact with various Bollywood actors including Mr. Bachchan. How was the experience of meeting him?
SR: I’ve met Mr. Bachchan before, in New York, and at both meetings, he was a charming, gracious presence.
BT: What prompted you to let Deepa film your most celebrated novel?
SR: Her passion for my work and my admiration of hers.
BT: Do you feel Midnight’s Children has a ‘filmable’ quality? As an art form do you regard cinema as inferior to literature?
SR: 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.
BT: Interestingly you are a midnight child yourself. Is your character in the book Saleem Sinai partly a self-portrait?
SR: I’m eight weeks older than Saleem! And I’m not as like him as you might imagine. For example, I remember my Bombay childhood as happy and uneventful, whereas his is pretty unhappy and eventful. But I was trying to make a portrait of my generation, the generation of Independence, and in that sense he’s very close to me.
BT: You spent many many years in exilic isolation. What was the biggest lesson that you learnt from the experience?
SR: Being unable to visit India in those years was very sad.
BT: What is your take on Islamic fundamentalism and the rise of global terrorism?
SR: I’m against it.

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