With an over-written screenplay and far too much material for audiences to digest, this film proves the rule that authors shouldn't adapt their own books into movies. In transferring his prize-winning novel to the big screen, Rushdie leaves in far too much detail while constantly indulging in literary touches that distract us from the story. He also adds his own voice in the form of narration to try and help us through it all. While there are moments of real power and important themes, the film is simply too dense.
The story follows Saleem (Bhabha), who was born at the stroke of midnight when India gained independence in 1947. He was also swapped with another baby in the hospital, which put him in the hands of a wealthy Pakistani couple (Goswami and Roy) while their biological son Shiva (Siddharth) grew up in poverty with a single-father minstrel (Chakrabarti). Oblivious to all of this, these people cross paths with each other over the decades as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh grapple to form distinct nations. And Saleem also discovers that he has the supernatural ability to connect all children born at that same moment, including Parvati (Saran), who becomes inextricably entwined with both Saleem and Shiva.
With its sprawling narrative spanning the entire history of modern-day India, the film feels like a variation on Forrest Gump, as Saleem's life story echoes and intersects with key events. This turns the film into an epic fable, complete with magical touches, huge coincidences and a vast array of side characters that's frankly bewildering. There's also the sense that a very big novel has been crammed into a very long movie, so we are thrown from scene to scene without getting the chance to let the people or events properly sink in. As a result, it's very difficult to feel any sympathy for the characters or anything that happens.
Continue reading: Midnight's Children Review
At midnight on August 15th 1947, India gained their independence from Britain during the decline of the British Empire. 'Midnight's Children' tells the story of how at that exact same time, a boy by the name of Saleem Sinai was born; a boy who soon learned that he was extraordinary in many ways as he possessed magical telepathic powers as a result of the time he was born. He later learns that other children born at the same time also have similar powers and he sets up a kind of club of all the Indian children born between midnight and 1 a.m. Along the way he clashes with Shiva, another Midnight Child who finds himself despising Saleem for his wealthy upbringing which is a strong contrast to his own poverty stricken life. Little do they both know, however, that they were deliberately switched at birth and fated to live the life the other son should've had.
'Midnight's Children' is the emotional fantasy drama adapted from Salman Rushdie's 1981 novel of the same name which won the Booker Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize on its publication. The author also wrote the screenplay in his feature film debut alongside director Deepa Mehta ('Heaven on Earth', 'Bollywood/ Hollywood'). It is set for release on December 26th 2012 in the UK.
Directed: Deepa Mehta
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