Oscar nominated director Deepa Mehta and multi-award-winning author Salman Rushdie's screen adaptation of his extraordinary multi award-winning international bestselling novel Midnight's Children will commence shooting in Sri Lanka in January 2011.
Shabana Azmi, Irrfan Khan, Soha Ali Khan, Nandita Das, Chandan Roy Sanyal and Seema Biswas will star in the English language film.
The film is being shot in Sri Lanka because Mehta has sworn off India following her nightmare experience shooting Water at Varanasi locations. Water was subsequently shot in Sri Lanka. But Midnight's Children could yet run into problems because in the late 1990s the BBC was planning to film a five-part mini-series of the novel with Rahul Bose in the lead, but due to pressure from the Muslim community in Sri Lanka, the filming permit was revoked and the project was cancelled.
Mehta and Rushdie have been working together on the screenplay for the past two years. International sales agents FilmNation are handling the film and have already concluded distribution deals with E1 in the UK and UGC in France.
FilmNation CEO Glen Basner said, "At once epic, comic and magical, Midnight's Children conjures images and characters as rich and unforgettable as India herself. It's a wonderful project and we are humbled that we have been chosen to represent it."
Midnight's Children is the riveting personal story of Saleem, and his changeling twin Shiva, who are both born right at midnight on August 15, 1947, just as India gained its independence from the British Raj. We learn about other children born close to Independence Midnight who, like Saleem, possess special powers and can communicate with each other telepathically. He is not alone. The lives of all the Midnight's Children are magically tied to the fate of Mother India. Saleem grows up in the shadow of the Raj, in a former British compound. His romantic nature (and his ability to "dial up" his Midnight's Children comrades telepathically) keeps him afloat. Then shattering revelations about his true identity and a forbidden love send him spinning. Wars and terrible hardships overwhelm Saleem and the other Midnight's Children but through it all, a bruised and hard-earned sense of hope and renewal is restored.
Midnight's Children won both the 1981 Booker Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. It was awarded the "Booker of Bookers" Prize and the best all-time prize winners in 1993 and 2008 to celebrate the Booker Prize 25th and 40th anniversary. Midnight's Children is also the only Indian novel on Time's list of the 100 best English-language novels since it's founding in 1923.
Mehta said of her passion for the novel, "I am intrigued by epic stories with complex people who have many layers and secrets, and tricks up their sleeves. This great novel of Rushdie's is one of the most famous examples of this kind of generous storytelling, and had an instantaneous appeal for me."
Speaking of his relationship with Mehta, Rushdie said, "Deepa asked me who had the rights to Midnight's Children, and I told her that I did. She said "Can I do it?" and I said "Yes." When asked why this was a such quick, sure decision for him, "Because her work has great beauty, and I always follow the passion."
Midnight's Children is produced by David Hamilton with Executive Producers Doug Mankoff and Andrew Spaulding from Echo Lake Entertainment and Steven Silver and Neil Tabatznik from Blue Ice Entertainment.