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

Walk the Talk

Many of us were so disappointed that the book was banned without anyone having read it. I think it was just a panic reaction with an election coming up.

Fortunately, we live in an age now when you can't ban books.

Right, you just download them.

Exactly. I think that's one of the great benefits of this information age.

So now that you've made a movie out of one, will you make a movie out of another one?

I don't think I will write the adaptation again. For me, it was a very interesting experience. I think if I was to do another movie, I would like to write the original screenplay for cinema. Adapting is a very difficult thing. I always thought Haroun and the Sea of Stories would make a good film. I always thought that The Enchantress of Florence would make a good film.

Is it one of the biggest creative prizes for a writer to have a film made?

No, it's just the next project. As a writer, you go from project to project. You don't give them rankings. It was interesting because it was something I've never done. I think one of the things you are always looking for, as an artist, is to find a challenge that you haven't faced before.

When you saw the first cut of the film, was there anything that surprised you? Nobody knows the story and the book more intimately than you.

The first thing I did was to see the rushes and then, I saw all the footage. What struck me was that we were lucky in our lighting cameraman because the look of the film—the extraordinary beauty of the film—is quite something. Whether or not you like the story, you can't deny that it looks very beautiful. And it also looks like we had a hundred million dollars to spend, which we did not. Giles Nuttgens, the cameraman, has such an extraordinary eye that he makes it look like it's a huge budget movie. Also, Dilip Mehta's production design was meticulous, his attempt to recreate the India, Pakistan and Bangladesh of that period, the 50s, 60s, 70s. It was sometimes shocking to me that he would create rooms which reminded me of the rooms that I had grown up in. And people carrying objects like cameras, which I remember my father carrying around.

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