Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta is set to co-write and direct a movie adaptation of Salman Rushdie's 1981 book Midnight's Children in a deal brokered during a dinner in Toronto between the two.
The film is expected to start production in 2010, according to the British newspaper the Guardian.
"If I was doing it myself, it would be rather daunting," Mehta told the Guardian. "The fact that we like and respect each other is a good foundation for collaboration."
The novel, an allegory about the blossoming of modern India, is required reading in many university courses.
It captured three Booker prizes: The book won the Commonwealth fiction award in 1981, topped the Booker of Bookers trophy in 1993 and then captured the reader-nominated Best of the Bookers this year.
The 650-page novel, with its mix of historical events and magical realism, has often been described as "unfilmable. Salman Rushdie's most recent book is The Enchantress of Florence. (Random House Publishing Group/Associated Press)
"War and Peace has 1,000 pages, and they made a movie of that," remarked Mehta, who said the two hatched a plan to film the book after Rushdie dined at her home recently.
Toronto-based Mehta is noted for films that touch upon explosive topics and may be best known for her Elements trilogy — Earth (1996), Fire (1998) and the Oscar-nominated Water (2005). Her most recent film, Heaven on Earth, examines domestic violence.
Much like Rushdie, Mehta has experienced dangerous conditions in the pursuit of her art. The filmmaker had to abandon her original production of Water after Indian protesters destroyed sets. The project was remounted in Sri Lanka.
Midnight's Children follows Saleem — born at midnight on Aug. 15, 1947, just as India achieved independence — who shares special powers with every other person born in the same hour and comes to see himself as the incarnation of India.
Rushdie wrote a five-part television series in the late 1990s based on the book, but the project was abandoned when the Sri Lankan government wouldn't let the shoot proceed.
"Those scripts will be a helpful blueprint for what will work in the film," Mehta said.
Causes Salman Rushdie Supports