Shabana, Nandita team up again for ‘Midnight’s Children’

By Subhash K. Jha,IANS,

Mumbai : After 11 years, Canada-based director Deepa Mehta is set to bring feisty actresses Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das together again for a screen adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s award winning 1981 novel “Midnight’s Children”.

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The last time they came together in Mehta’s 1998 “Fire” they created a stir as a lesbian couple. “Shabana and Nandita were magical in ‘Fire’,” said Mehta who has also finalised Seema Biswas in the cast along with them.

“These are my three absolute favourites. Enchanting enduring actors whom I’ve had the privilege of working with earlier. And Seema was absolutely resplendent in ‘Water’,” Mehta told IANS.

Just how this cinematic history was mooted is a tale by itself that’s best left for Mehta to be recounted.

“It was the simplest thing in the world. I’m aware the largest studios of Hollywood were trying for years to convince Salman to part with the filming rights for ‘Midnight’s Children’ and he had refused them all. Salman and I have been friends for three years.

“On Nov 4, (2008) Salman and I were having lunch in New York when I casually said, ‘Wouldn’t it be lovely to make a film out of ‘Midnight’s Children?” And Salman replied, ‘Why don’t you do it?’ As simple as that. Salman has seen my ‘Water’ and loved it. So he feels I could do justice to his book,” she said.

Mehta will start working on the novel, an allegory about the blossoming of modern India, in 2010, right after she’s done with her other period epic “Komagata Maru” with Akshay Kumar.

“Midnight’s Children” will be produced by Mehta’s life partner David Hamilton.

Now the big question is, who plays the young Muslim protagonist Salim in “Midnight’s Children”?