Midnight's Children (film)
|Directed by||Deepa Mehta|
|Screenplay by||Salman Rushdie|
|Based on||Midnight's Children|
by Salman Rushdie
|Produced by||David Hamilton|
|Edited by||Colin Monie|
|Distributed by||Mongrel Media (Canada)|
E1 Entertainment (United Kingdom)
Midnight's Children is a 2012 film adaptation of Salman Rushdie's 1981 novel of the same name. The film features an ensemble cast of Satya Bhabha, Shriya Saran, Siddharth Narayan, Ronit Roy, Anupam Kher, Shabana Azmi, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Seema Biswas, Shahana Goswami, Samrat Chakrabarti, Rahul Bose, Soha Ali Khan, Anita Majumdar and Darsheel Safary. With a screenplay by Rushdie and directed by Deepa Mehta, the film began principal photography in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in February 2011 and wrapped in May 2011. Shooting was kept a secret as Mehta feared protests by Islamic fundamentalist groups.
The film was shown at the Toronto International Film Festival, the Vancouver International Film Festival, and the BFI London Film Festival. The film was also a nominee for Best Picture and seven other categories at the 1st Canadian Screen Awards, winning two awards.
The film begins with the narrator .i.e. Saleem Sinai describing his much anticipated birth at the moment of Indian independence. The narrative jumps back to 1917 Kashmir. Saleem's grandfather, Dr. Aadam Aziz went to the Ghani mansion to have a look at the landlord's sick daughter, Nasim, without realising that she was going to be his future wife. The narrative jumps to Agra of 1942. Saleem tells his grandfather had contracted an optimism disease of those times and had become an ardent supporter of Mian Abdullah. But Abdullah while returning from a party with his secretary Nadir, gets assassinated by a group of his opposers. Nadir flees away to Dr. Aziz's house where Aadam shelters him in his cellar despite opposition from his wife Nasim. Saleem introduces Aadam's 3 daughters, Alia, Mumtaz and Emerald. During Nadir's stay, Mumtaz developed a bond with him which resulted in a marriage. Soon the marriage was broken when general Zulfikar and his team got to know about his presence in the cellar. Devastated by the unexpected divorce Mumtaz finds solace in the arms of the wealthy entrepreneur Ahmed Sinai.
The two married and moved from Calcutta to Bombay, where they bought a villa from a wealthy Englishman Methwold. Mumtaz takes up a new name, Amina Sinai. In the villa an accordionist, Wee Willie Winkie and his wife, used to come to sing and entertain and a matter of the fact was this that the wife was carrying Methwold's child with her. Amina too was carrying a child then. Both went into labour on 14th Aug, and gave birth at the moment India got independence. However a nurse, Mary, driven by love for her revolutionary partner, decided to swap the name tags of the rich and the poor kid thus, altering their fates. Mary realised the extent of her mistake and requests to make amends by deciding to become Saleem's ayah. One meant for poverty, led a life of privilege, and Shiva, the one destined for fortune led an unfornate, impoverished life on the streets. For Saleem, things worsen, as his family pressurises him to be different and special, while his father becomes became an alcoholic. He soon started hearing voices which he realised could be controlled by him, soon realising that these were the voices of the other midnight's children born in the initial hours of the independence all of whom had special powers. The most prominent of them however were, Shiva the warlord and Parvati the witch, who was his only blind supporter, and Saleem himself with telepathetic capabalities.
Wanting to make good use of his power, he formed the midnight's Children's conference destined to serve the nation. But things go against him as an accident reveals that Saleem's blood group doesn't match with his parents revealing that he's not his parents' true child. In shock his parents send him away to his aunt Emerald who lived in Pakistan, now the wife of Major Zulfikar. In his exile Saleem learns about Power, Politics and struggle. Saleem grows much distraught by the division caused in the MCC, due to the loss of innocence and the seeping of language and class differences amongst the members, he disbands the conference. Saleem finally is recalled back to his family which had now moved to Karachi. He returns only to find that his father had still not accepted him. Mary realised that the only way to make amends was by disclosing the events of that night, which led to the revelation.
The war of '65 starts in which owing to bombings Saleem loses his family. Having been present at the time of the accident, he suffers a memory loss and wakes up in '71. He is enrolled in the army for his sniffing skills and becomes part of crew which went to fight in the East Pakistan which with the help of India became Bangladesh. Still in his amnesia, he joins a large celebrating crowd including the victorious Indian soldiers, Whose head was Shiva, now a war-hero owing to his powers, and also a few magicians from India, which included Parvati the witch. Having identified Saleem she calls him, thus breaking his spell of amnesia. Having heard his tough journey, she takes him back to India in Delhi to her ghetto of magicians. They fall in love but, Saleem ambitious to do something big leaves Parvati giving her the excuse that he couldn't marry her because he was impotent. Realising the futility of his ambitions he returns to find carrying the child of Shiva. Aadam, one of the many other illicit children, a result of Shiva's numerous liaisons, formed the next generation of magical children, was born at the moment of the declaration of emergency by the PM Indira Gandhi.
The PM, an ardent believer of horoscopes, started to see Midnight's children as a threat to her supremacy, so in the name of a sterilization programme she started to incarcerate midnight's children and drain their powers. Shiva leading the project, in search of Saleem reached the slum and got hold of Saleem. In captivity he gave the information of the other children, who were incarcerated too. The sterilization programme started through which powers of the children were drained. The children, drained of their powers forcefully were let out, while Shiva died in an accident. The emergency was suspended simultaneously. He finds his son. Joyed by the event Saleem has lunch at a restaurant only to realise a similarity between the chutney he ate and the one he used to have during his childhood which his loving ayah used to prepare for him. He gets the address of the chutney company which was in Bombay and sets out to find it. He finds that he was right at last. Mary and Saleem were over joyed to see each other. The film concludes as Saleem's son, Aadam, utters his first ever word.
Saleem is wanting to go to Places to make his country have joy. He first goes to London. He see the buildings. In London, he meets with British people and discuses about his country. He got some ideas.He also goes to Cambridge, Liverpool, and Manchester The he goes to American (Chicago, Portland, and Houston), then Canada (Toronto, Vancouver, Saint John. He also travels in other cities in USA, England, and Canada.
- Satya Bhabha as Saleem Sinai
- Shriya Saran as Parvati
- Siddharth Narayan as Shiva
- Darsheel Safary as Saleem Sinai (as a child)
- Anupam Kher as Ghani
- Shabana Azmi as Naseem
- Neha Mahajan as Young Naseem
- Seema Biswas as Mary
- Charles Dance as William Methwold
- Samrat Chakrabarti as Wee Willie Winkie
- Rajat Kapoor as Aadam Aziz
- Soha Ali Khan as Jamila
- Rahul Bose as Zulfikar
- Anita Majumdar as Emerald
- Shahana Goswami as Amina
- Chandan Roy Sanyal as Joseph D'Costa
- Ronit Roy as Ahmed Sinai
- Kulbhushan Kharbanda as Picture Singh
- Shikha Talsania as Alia
- Zaib Shaikh as Nadir Khan
- Sarita Choudhury as Indira Gandhi
- Vinay Pathak as Hardy
- Kapila Jeyawardena as Governor
- Ranvir Shorey as Laurel
- Suresh Menon as Field Marshal
- G.R Perera as Astrologer
- Rajesh Khera
- Salman Rushdie, narrator
In 2008, Mehta and Salman Rushdie decided to collaborate on a film together. At first Mehta wanted to adapt his novel Shalimar the Clown, but she eventually decided on Midnight's Children instead. Rushdie spent the next two years paring down the 600-page book into a 130-page script. Rushdie told the BBC in an interview that he sold the rights to the film for $1.
The casting process began in early 2010. For the role of the protagonist Saleem Sinai, Mehta wanted Imran Khan, but his salary was outside of the film's budget. She decided to cast British actor Satya Bhabha instead after seeing video of him performing in a play. Kangana Ranaut and Rani Mukerji were originally cast as Emerald and Amina, but both had to be replaced due to scheduling conflicts. Irrfan Khan was also forced to pull out due to conflicts with Life of Pi and Nandita Das opted out of the film after she had her first child. Rahul Bose (who had earlier been slated to play Saleem in the BBC's aborted version of the novel) was selected for the role of Emerald's husband Zulfikar and Shabana Azmi was cast as Saleem's grandmother Naseem.
Principal shooting began in February 2011 in Colombo, Sri Lanka as Mehta feared protests by Muslim fundamentalists if the film was shot in Pakistan and by Indian National Congress & Gandhi family loyalists if it was made in Mumbai. Cast members had secrecy clauses added to their contracts to help keep the production quiet. Production design was handled by Mehta's brother Dilip Mehta. Under his direction, authentic Delhi-style furniture, props and costumes were shipped in from India. Shooting was briefly interrupted when Iran complained to the Sri Lanka government about the film and the crew was ordered to halt production. Mehta appealed to President Mahinda Rajapaksa who agreed to let filming continue. Winds of Change was the working title of the film during the shooting. Filming lasted a total of 69 days from February to May 2011. In all, 800 extras were used.
The film premiered on 9 September 2012 at the Toronto International Film Festival with repeat screenings on the 10th and 27th. The film had its Indian premiere on 10 December 2012 at the 17th International Film Festival of Kerala. After the premiere show, Indian National Congress leaders came against the movie alleging that the film portrays former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and some other leaders in a negative manner. Following the allegations, any further screening of the film in the festival was stopped, an act which drew heavy criticism.
After initial fears that the movie would not find a distributor in India, the distribution rights were acquired by the Mumbai-based company PVR Pictures. In India, the film was released on 1 February 2013 with minimal cuts owing to clever casting & script treatment by Mehta. "Deepa Mehta didn't want to draw any attention to Sarita Chowdhary who plays Mrs Gandhi but looks nothing like her. The whole strategy was to not focus attention on the character and the actress playing the role."
|indicates that the given rating is an average rating of all reviews provided by the source|
Nishi Tiwari for Rediff.com gave 3/5 stars and said: "Midnight's Children is a must watch for people who’ve yearned to experience Salman Rushdie iconic storytelling in a more accessible format." On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 41% rating based on 59 reviews. The website's critical consensus states that "Though Midnight's Children is beautiful to look at and poignant in spots, its script is too indulgent and Deepa Mehta's direction, though ambitious, fails to bring the story together cohesively." Reviews include: "There are some beautiful moments and some decent performances, but it's also something of a slog and ultimately fails to engage on an emotional level", "There's humour and heart here, but it's an overlong tale as meandering as the Ganges." and "Watchable without ever feeling essential."
For an academic overview of the adaptations of Midnight's Children, see Mendes and Kuortti (2016).
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- Mendes, Ana Cristina; Kuortti, Joel (21 December 2016). "Padma or No Padma: Audience in the Adaptations of Midnight's Children". The Journal of Commonwealth Literature. 52 (3): 501–518. doi:10.1177/0021989416671171. hdl:10451/29281. ISSN 0021-9894.