Kolkata, Jan 30: Blaming “vested interests” for the latest controversy around Booker Prize-winning writer Salman Rushdie, who cancelled his visit to Kolkata Wednesday, actor Rahul Bose said the happenings have left him “disturbed”.
The 65-year-old author of the controversial “The Satanic Verses” was slated to visit Kolkata to promote Deepa Mehta’s film “Midnight’s Children”, based on his homonymous novel, but called off the trip at the last moment.
Hours before Rushdie’s scheduled arrival, Muslim groups under the banner of Milli Ittehad Parishad demonstrated Wednesday morning near the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport against his visit, and only relented after being told by the authorities that he was not coming.
Asked whether he was disappointed at the controversy, Bose said on the sidelines of the Kolkata Literary Meet: “I don’t think that the whole of Kolkata is up in arms…I don’t know who the vested interests are but there are vested interests.”
“I am disturbed that it is part of the stitching together of what has been happening for two decades,” said Bose, who plays General Zulfiqar – “an 11 minute role” – in the movie.
Queried why Rushdie abandoned the trip to Kolkata, Bose said: “There are several theories doing rounds about why Salman did not come. I am not sure which one to believe.”
Rushdie has for long been embroiled in controversy over his book “The Satanic Verses”, which has been perceived as anti-Islamic. He received death threats after it was published in 1988, while a ‘fatwa’ was also issued against him by the Iranian Islamic clergy.