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Midnight's Children may not be released in India

A scene from Midnight's Children.

The film version of Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie's 1981 prize-winning novel, may not be released in India, its director has said, blaming "insecure politicians."

The adaptation, which has been shown at the Toronto International Film Festival, is due for worldwide release in October or November, but has yet to find an Indian distributor.

"Salman has often said that the book was his love letter to India. I think the film reflects that love," Canadian director Deepa Mehta told the Hindustan Times.

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"What a pity if insecure politicians deprive the people of India [of the chance] to make up their own minds about what the film means."

Rushdie's Booker prize-winning novel includes highly critical descriptions of the late prime minister Indira Gandhi, who suspended democracy in India between 1975 and 1977 in a period known as "the Emergency."

The Gandhi family remain at the centre of political life in India, with Indira's daughter-in-law Sonia Gandhi the president of the ruling Congress party and Sonia's son Rahul seen as a potential future prime minister.

The Hindustan Times said that Indira's thinly disguised character is depicted on screen in "a manner that conveys an almost Voldemort-like menace" – a reference to Harry Potter's arch enemy.

Rushdie's 1988 book The Satanic Verses remains banned in India for allegedly insulting Islam.

The author, who was born in Mumbai, was forced to withdraw from a literary festival in Jaipur this year after death threats and angry protests from Islamist activists.

He later criticised Indian politicians for pandering to hardliners and said the country was failing to protect the right to freedom of expression.

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The film version of Midnight's Children, which was adapted by Rushdie, was shot in Sri Lanka, where the government came under pressure from Iran to stop the project.

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