Deepa Mehta plays with fire again
By: Subhash K Jha
After Water gained the ire of Hindu radicals, the director's new film -- an adaptation of Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children -- was shot secretly in Colombo last week|
Fire director Deepa Mehta quietly began shooting in Colombo last week for her much-anticipated adaptation of Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children, which will star Shabana Azmi, Seema Biswas, Soha Ali Khan and American Indian actor Satya Bhabha in the protagonist's role of Saleem Sinai.
The working title of the film is Winds of Change. She will later arrive in India for a portion of the shoot in undisclosed areas. For now, Colombo will masquerade as India. This is not the first time Mehta has used Colombo to depict India.
In 2005, she shot in Colombo after being denied permission to shoot in Varanasi for her critically acclaimed Oscar-nominated film, Water. Mehta relocated the aborted project to Colombo and shot the film under a secret working-title, Moon River.
Her current shooting spell for Midnight's Children in Colombo could also face trouble. While radical Hindu political groups had disrupted the shooting of Water in Varanasi, this time, protests are expected from Islamic fundamentalists, who haven't taken kindly to Salman Rushdie's writings.
In 1989, Iran issued a fatwa against Rushdie for his fourth novel, Satanic Verses. The book also met with widespread protests and Muslim communities in several nations including the West held public rallies, burning copies of the book.
Which explains why the actors and crewmembers of Midnight's Children were sworn to secrecy by contract about the location of filming. One crewmember accidentally revealed, "We are shooting in Colombo. But no one is supposed to know about it."