British author Salman Rushdie said he was “sick and tired” of being called controversial as he flew in to India for the screening of a new film based on his iconic novel “Midnight’s Children”.
The Mumbai-born novelist, whose 1988 book “The Satanic Verses” remains banned in India for allegedly insulting Islam, said it was groups which enforce bans on books and artistes that should be branded as controversial instead.
“I don’t know why the media calls me a controversial author. It is the extremist groups who enforce bans on books and artistes who should be called controversial,” Rushdie told the NDTV news channel.
“I hope better sense prevails,” added the Booker prize-winning writer, who was flanked by the film’s director Deepa Mehta on the TV show.
The movie, set in post-independence India, would be shown on January 31 to a select audience including the director and author’s friends in Mumbai, local media reports said.
“A day after the special screening, the author will host an intimate dinner for select members of the film’s cast and crew,” The Times of India newspaper reported.
Rushdie, whose visit was shrouded in secrecy for security reasons, spent a decade in hiding after Iranian spiritual leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa in 1989 calling for his death.
Last year, Rushdie was forced to withdraw from a literary festival in the northwestern city of Jaipur in January after death threats and angry protests from Islamists.
But he visited the country two months later and launched a stout defense of freedom of expression.