Bush shoe-thrower may get Delhi invite to watch himself on stage

On December 14, 2008, the world watched Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi hurled a shoe at then US President George W Bush.

Two years later, his action has found resonance in a play being produced by filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt. The Last Salute is based on events leading up to al-Zaidi's actions at a press conference in Baghdad, and the prosecution that followed.

And if plans work out, al-Zaidi will be in India for the first performance.

"There was this guy who had the courage to vent his rage at the president, something that was also building up among the people of Iraq. Bush's policies could not find (approval) even with a journalist who was covering the Iraq war comprehensively," says Bhatt, who was actively involved in campaigns against Bush's foreign policies.

According to Bhatt, he had refused a 2003-invitation to be part of a prayer breakfast at Capitol Hill, before the start of the Iraq war. "I could not break bread with someone whose policies were leading to the death of many innocent civilians."

To bring this play to life, Bhatt approached playwright and leader of Delhi-based Asmita theatre group, Arvind Gaur. The script will be based loosely on al-Zaidi's book, The Last Salute to President Bush.

Essaying the lead character will be Delhi-based theatre actor Imran Zahid (30), who has also bagged the protagonist's role in Bhatt's next feature film, Chandu.

Al-Zaidi's consent has also been sought for this play. After retiring from his job as a TV journalist with an Iraqi news channel, he has been working with a Lebanese news channel. "I am happy to know that a play is being staged on this issue. It's a good thing that the people of India will be made aware of this concern," says al-Zaidi via an e-mail response from Lebanon.

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