'There are things in India that have got much worse, particularly in the area of free expression'

Walk the Talk

And has she answered that question well enough?

Yes, I have to say I am very happy with the film. We were lucky in many ways. I mean, of course, Deepa is a wonderful director...first of all, she's a wonderful director of actors and she is also a wonderful director of child actors.

And she is tough enough to deal with celebrities like you.

You know, she's just as much a celebrity. What was good was that we are both very direct kind of people.

But many lesser filmmakers would be intimidated by your reputation.

It wasn't to do with it. We just got on very well because both of us speak our minds, both of us are direct people. So that meant that we were, quite early, able to make an open working relationship. I mean I had admired her films before, I had actually interviewed her on television in America when she released Water.

And what do you remember from that interview?

I remember being struck by the film. But I remember how easy the conversation was between us. There was no awkwardness or stiffness which happens sometimes. And then, I was in Toronto because I had a book coming out and (I was) at her place for dinner. So we were talking about maybe doing something. And then, she suddenly said, who has the rights to Midnight's Children? I said, as it happens, I have the rights and she said, can I do that? I said okay. That was the deal. I think it was instinct on her part and an instinctive reaction on my part. And then, we were both a little bit nervous when we settled down to work on it. But the first time we sat down to talk about it seriously in my study in New York, we had both made lists of images and scenes and things we thought should be in the film and so on. And what struck both of us was that the lists were almost identical. So then we thought that we were actually on the same page trying to make the same movie. From then on, our confidence grew in each other, we began to trust each other. There were times when I would say, look, this is something we have to have and she would give in. And sometimes, she would say, look, I don't want to do that, I want to do it like this and you just have to trust me. And I would say, okay, we'll try to do that.

... contd.

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