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Where it all began

Hasan Suroor
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An Indian filmmaker's take on the Rushdie phenomenon.

Salman Rushdie will perhaps always be remembered as the man who wrote The Satanic Verses and then spent the rest of his life defending his right to free speech, but his real legacy is Midnight’s Children which made Indian writing in English suddenly fashionable and turned it into a roaring business.

In a week when The Satanic Verses was again in the news, following the release of Rushdie’s memoir Joseph Anton, about his years on the run after the Iranian fatwa, an Indian critic, writer and film-maker took us back to where his journey began. Suresh Kohli’s film, Magic Realism and after: Indian English fiction 1981-2011 , screened at the Nehru Centre in London, assesses the impact of Midnight’s Children on a generation of young Indian writers and how it shaped western perceptions of Indian writing in English through a series of interviews with writers (including Arundhati Roy, Amitav Ghosh and Vikram Seth), critics, literary agents and publishers — both in India and around the world.

“I wanted to explore the phenomenon behind Midnight’s Children , particularly how it influenced a generation of new writers and marked the beginning of what is now known as Indian writing in English,” Kohli said.

He also wanted to probe new trends in Indian writing in English and the concerns of “the younger crop of writers”.

The film, praised for its director’s “fresh vision”, is to be shown in other world capitals.

Hasan Suroor


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