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

Walk the Talk

Until at the end she made you narrate.

Which had never occurred to me.

That was a googly.

Yes, that was. Deepa is very determined. I was resistant to it. I thought, get an actor to do it, somebody who does this for a living. I mean, the rest of the film was so beautiful—the cinematography, the performances, etc—I didn't want to be the amateur person spoiling it. So I was quite nervous about it but in the end, it seems to have worked out.

Every reviewer would have said, because Salman Rushdie would not keep himself out of the film...

Exactly. He wrecked the film. Well, I tried very hard to stay out of it. Even to the extent that there was one point where Deepa wanted me to play a small cameo in the movie and I said I shouldn't do that because that would be distracting to the audience.

So, it's a kind of a sweet revenge. You know, if you can't read my book, for whatever reason, I give you my film.

Well, people can read Midnight's Children. It has been here all this time. Actually, one of the things that was very important to me, when the book came out all those years ago, was the fact that people here liked it. I always thought that if people in India had not cared for it, then it doesn't matter how many Booker prizes...

If I could make a statement—if people in India and elsewhere had read The Satanic Verses, then this reaction would not have been justified.

I think those people who have actually read the book more or less don't have the theatrics. I've had quite a few people who were involved in demonstrations and protests against the book back at that time come up to me and sort of apologise and say, I've read your book and actually like it. You know, strange things happen when you take the trouble to read.

... contd.

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