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Rushdie, Mehta film to get India release despite protests

Director Deepa Mehta and author Salman Rushdie arrive at the gala presentation for Midnight's Children.

FRED THORNHILL/REUTERS

A Canadian-made film based on Salman Rushdie's novel "Midnight's Children" is set to be screened in India, its distributor said, a month after the movie's director said she feared "insecure politicians" could prevent it from being shown.

The film by Canadian director Deepa Mehta, which chronicles the story of an Indian family living through the tumultuous events from India's recent past including the partition in 1947 and 1970s state of emergency, features a voiceover by Mr. Rushdie.

The British author, who won the coveted Booker Prize for Midnight's Children in 1981, was forced to cancel a visit to a literature festival in his native India earlier this year after assassination threats were made against him.

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Mr. Rushdie's 1988 novel "The Satanic Verses", which many Muslims deemed blasphemous, is banned in India, and his depiction of sensitive issues like former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's role during the Emergency in Midnight's Children had thrown the film's screening into doubt.

Director Deepa Mehta chose to film the movie in Sri Lanka instead of India, after her previous production in the country was hit by protests from right-wing Hindu groups.

But PVR Pictures, the distribution company that has acquired the film in India, does not expect any problems.

"We are not (expecting any trouble). We don't think the film is controversial," Kamal Gianchandani, PVR's president, told Reuters, adding that the film was expected to be released in India in December.

He declined to say whether Mr. Rushdie, who has promoted the movie at festivals such as Toronto and Telluride, would be in India to launch it there.

"If the censor board has a perspective, it will be respected," Gianchandani added. "Whatever is the law of the land will be followed in (its) entirety."

Last month, Ms. Mehta said she feared "insecure politicians" might derail the film's release plans in India.

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