On October 3rd, Vancouver offered to the movie ‘Midnight’s Children’ the largest attendance recorded for a screening at Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF). Produced by David Hamilton, directed by Deepa Mehta and written by Salman Rushdie, the film is a(n explosive) treat to watch.
The world of Midnight’s Children, a cellulide incarnation of Salman Rushdie’s classic novel on the partition of India, comes alive from the start and continues to become more vivid, more exciting, more bizarre – as it does. From hillarious to outrageous, it’s a riot to witness a woman in bits and parts through the holed sheet, and then see her emerge as a complete, and somehow baffling young woman; the three sisters, two of whom progress to become wives while the third (‘who marries a book?’) stays sitting on the sofa; the celebrated birth of Salim Sinai, and nurse Mary’s inspirational pro-activism in switching the newborns; the un-sighted black mango with all it’s ramifications on the young mind of Salim; the recurrence of the spittoon; the white-locked lady of all political powers, generals and plans, the killing fields, the homeless, Parvati’s magic, Picture Singh’s supportive appearances; and most of all, an optimistic end.
Tying it together is Salman Rushdie’s first person narration as Salim Sinai that runs through the film like the nadi connecting all the seven chakras across the body. In a world where anything is possible, and at a time when people must experience the violence of doctored political change, the continuity of the narrator’s voice enables the viewer to go with it till the end.
Deepa Mehta has created this film with amazing skill, depth and vision. The chaotic culture of pre-Partition India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the characters, the atmosphere, the beauty- it is a forceful, moving and fascinating experience in cinema. A profound art film and not a single dull moment.
Actors performed their characters well even when there was not enough time for most. Amazing talent, beauty and hard work shines through the whole team led by Satya Bhabha (Saleem Sinai), Shahana Goswami (Amina), Seema Biswas (Mary), Shriya Saran (Parvati), Rahul Bose (General Zulfikar) and Ronit Roy (Ahmed Sinai). An unexpected disappointment: Shabana Azmi (Naseem).
The movie ‘Midnight’s Children’ remains in the mind as an unforgettable visual experience, and as a worthy preamble to a larger film. Because of the time constraint that may have caused the collage of key events toward the end, the later half, unlike the first, could not establish all of it’s changing worlds for it’s characters to live in. It does work but feels like a tease to a viewer who has read the novel, and confusion to the one who hasn’t.
About the river and the bowl, the river of novel Midnight’s Children is indeed captured and contained in the bowl of a 90-minute film even though brimming, spilling, splashing. It’s spoiling for a slightly bigger bowl of perhaps a 3-hour film or a mini tv series.
To be released in India December 2012
Related content at uddari
– ‘Midnight’s Children’ World Premiere: Toronto Sept 9 & 10 – Vancouver Sept 27
– 2012 Attraction: A Deepa Mehta Film