Television drama has taken the place of film or even the novel as the best way to communicate ideas, Sir Salman Rushdie has said.
The author of Midnight’s Children and The Satanic Verses believes that, far from its “dumbed-down” image, television has become the medium for some of the most sophisticated writing today.
Sir Salman, whose accolades include the “Booker of Bookers” award, has switched his attentions from literary fiction to the small screen, currently working on a new science fiction series in America.
Hailing the writing quality in hit US series such as The Wire, The Sopranos and The West Wing, he described television as “the best of both worlds” giving writers the kind of control over plot and characterisation previously enjoyed only by novelists.
“In the movies the writer is just the servant, the employee,” he told The Observer.
“In television, the 60-minute series, The Wire and Mad Men and so on, the writer is the primary creative artist.
“You have control in the way that you never have in the cinema. … if you have that, then what you can do with character and story is not at all unlike what you can do in a novel.”
His change in focus follows protracted struggles to secure support for a screen adaptation of Midnight’s Children, his magic realism-inspired take on the history of modern India, which is currently being made into a film to be called Winds of Change.
“[My agents] said to me that what I should really think about is a TV series, because what has happened in America is that the quality – or the writing quality – of movies has gone down the plughole.
"If you want to make a $300 million special effects movie from a comic book, then fine.
"But if you want to make a more serious movie… I mean you have no idea how hard it was to raise the money for Midnight's Children."
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