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Having read the novel a few years ago, went and watched it at the London Film Festival. As much as I wanted to love it, it didn't blow me away. The pluses: The acting was good with a good enough cast. Satya Bhabha, Rajat Kapoor, Shahana Goswami and some others (Seema Biswas, for example) were terrific. Shriya, Siddharth, Soha Ali Khan, the usual crowd that you see in many recent Hindi/Tamil films, did their best and I couldn't really find too much fault with them, though I've seen them play the same characters in other films. The story itself is quite powerful The locales were well chosen and you could sometimes feel the vibe of Partition. The minuses: The music (background score) was staid. The screenplay and adaptation to the medium seemed to be the crux of the problems, though. Deepa Mehta (and Rushdie himself) seemed to stick to the book too closely, and weren't very adventurous. At many times it was pure narration, which seems a bit lazy as an adaptation. The film was also 2.5 hours long meaning they left out nothing at the cost of making it a bit boring. Everything was so literal that they lost out on the magic of the writing. Still a normally good film it will typically be marked controversial even though it really isn't. I was just hoping for some distinctiveness and style.
With Rushdie having written the screenplay and being heavily involved,
comments about faithfulness to the book are moot; also, the book is
quite stylised and far too dense with detail to be easily converted.
So the biggest problems are thus:
* Technical atrocities
* Clichés layered on thick
* Terrible comedic timing
Firstly, the camera work is all over the shop. Hand-held DSLRs are wonderful bits of technology, but camera shake at certain moments of action is confusing, and a bit shoddy. It doesn't help the pace of the film, which changes at strange intervals.
Secondly, the compositions are banal. It's like they used iStockPhoto for storyboarding, and stuck every visual cliché about India into the shots.
Thirdly, there are moments in the film ripe for black comedy where there is none, and moments where comedy is just jarring. If you're going to mess with established concepts in the audiences' minds, it had better mean something. There is far too much throwaway material in the film.
And it's a long one, at 146 minutes, and could have been much shorter, with more energy, better pace, and of higher quality throughout. To the film's credit, there are production elements very well done; the use of children and animals, you'll be startled to hear, are handled brilliantly. But it's not really enough. It may be just that Salman Rushdie would have been better supervising the screenplay rather than writing it himself, and the film could use a complete re-edit, but it is what it is.
A satisfactory (not great) adaptation of a Literary Masterpiece! This
might be Deepa Mehta's most ambitious film till date, but not her best
The sets, the cinematography and the acting are superb; these are the main plus points for the movie. The author (Salman Rushdie) himself does the narration, which gives an intimate feel. The movie's splendid cast is truly fine; with so many experienced actors being a part of it. Shahana Goswami, Seema Biswas and Darsheel Safary truly stand out.
The movie could have been much better if a few things could have been avoided. First and the primary one being, she broke the first rule of novel adaptations - never let the original author adapt his own book. This causes the screenplay to be flabby, and sometimes overstretched. He struggles to incorporate most of his teeming subplots; the result is that it becomes too difficult to find a narrative focus.The editing and the background score could have been better. The characters seem a little underdeveloped and fail to make an emotional connection. And the screenplay fails to soulfully blend the supernatural realism with the historic political sweep of the story.
The Book might be 'Booker of Bookers', but the movie fails to reach that height. It's still a satisfactory watch for all the book's fans and lovers of unusual cinema.
Only occasionally does a movie portray a culture in a time and place that truly succeeds in giving you a sense of what it was like there. I think of Like Water for Chocolate for example. I was totally blown away by this film's ability to somehow transport me back to India, capturing all the craziness, the colours, the confusion, the sensibilities.... I only spent six weeks there but my son who worked there for a year and a half agreed with me. I think that it is a very unusual film for western viewers. The symbolism is so important and rich. We are not watching individuals at all but characters who represent elements of the country that the writer and director are passionate about. The pace and length is absolutely essential to get the feel of how vast the story is. The camera-work is breathtaking, the music is absolutely authentic, I felt that I could even smell India again. I noticed that the reviews by western critics were mostly negative while those from India were the opposite. If you want to enjoy this film, leave your western film expectations at home and come with an openness to a different way of seeing, learning and experiencing. I will encourage everyone I know to treat themselves to this wonderful film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I watched Midnight's Children today. Salman Rushdie's book is one of my
all-time favorites and I went into the theater with unabashed
excitement and even a bias in the favor of the movie I was yet to
Most people will find the movie interesting; I doubt that many would label it 'great'. Even when you make the allowance that it is hard to recapture the magic of a great book on celluloid, it is easy to see that the task Deepa Mehta set herself was near-impossible to achieve. Salman Rushdie's book is a sprawling tale of magic-realism that weaves many incidents together on a large canvas. The attempt to replicate it in a two-hour plus film necessitates a jerky journey that hurries from one incident to the other, just managing to retain seamless coherence. In some ways the movie is like life itself you know that there would be an ending though not every peak and trough clearly point in that direction.
There is also the problem of depicting magic-realism on this medium. The story is so inextricably intertwined with India's post-Independence history that one begins to seek fidelity in every detail. And not only does the film give accuracy a short shrift; the surrender by Pakistani troops comes across as a minor function at a school with the Indian General dressed indifferently, Major Shiva is not only a war hero (and one who appears during the surrender ceremony and in the presence of his Generals with his cap carelessly shoved under the shoulder flap) but is also in-charge of demolitions of slums and hovering around the country's Prime Minister. The movie's many switches to 'magic' are somewhat less than credible. To be fair to them, this is a 'flaw' that the makers perhaps could not have escaped it is one thing to see magic in, say, Harry Potter where all else is magic too and thus very much 'acceptable' to the subconscious and quite another to be confronted with bits of sudden magic when one has recently settled down to realism. I must point out that I had not felt this disconnect when I had read the book, some three decades ago. In the movie there are two completely contrasting tastes competing for the viewer's palate with the obvious outcome.
Before I go any further, I recommend the movie both to those who have read the classic and those who have not. The experience for the two groups will be absolutely disparate, I suspect!
Most of the performances are good and Seema Biswas as the guilt-ridden nurse who starts it all by switching babies is noteworthy. But both the redoubtable Anupam Kher as the father and Rahul Bose as a Pakistani General are forgettable caricatures.
The point about the destinies of India and Pakistan being inseparable comes at you, loud and clear. And in his voice-over Salman Rushdie underscores the point in the end that our Republic has not kept all the promises that were made at the stroke of freedom.
Perhaps, when we are seized by joy and optimism, such becomes the nature of promises we humans often make to ourselves.
I was fortunate enough to get tickets to watch an early screening of
'Midnight's Children' at the BFI London Film Festival. In the wake of
several adaptations (Cloud Atlas, Silver linings playbook, Life of Pi)
I wasn't really expecting much out of Midnoght's Children in
When I first saw the trailer I wasn't thoroughly impressed. The acclaimed novel by Salman Rushdie is my favorite book of all time (Booker of Booker prize) and I had a hard time believing a film adaptation would come remotely close to the brilliance of the novel. I didn't want to watch the movie like a father that doesn't want to believe his son is doing drugs.
Thankfully, my son isn't doing drugs, and the movie isn't as bad as I expected. The cinematography is pretty good and the acting, which relied on Asian actors, is very good. I would have enjoyed a better soundtrack - sometimes the music felt eerily like b-quality Bollywood. There are also some scenes that could have been edited better - but I'm not in the movie business so what do I know? Big chunks of the novel are left out but I guess that's normal considering there always have to be some trimming here and there when transforming a novel into a film.
Overall great movie that doesn't disappoint fans of the novel. Sure, it could have been better - but hey, in this day and age, what couldn't be better?
As I sat through the final gala event of the Indian film festival in
Los Angeles, I witness a sea of NRI theatrics to promote and celebrate
there film communities beloved cinematic achievements. It is there
night to celebrate two of finest exports of not so artistically
talented community of Indian Americans in North America. 'Midnight's
children' is the movie they are trying to celebrate today. I am saying
trying because unfortunate as it may be this one has turned out to be
Based on the celebrated novel of the same name by Salman Rushdie the movie version is staunchly conservative as it decidedly sticks honest with the book's narrative. May be Mr. Rushdie did not wish to tinker anything to his beloved book and he is entitled to do whatever he wishes to with its film version. Unfortunately for the audience, Mr. Rushdie along with Miss Deepa Mehta has served something that is too much to consume in approximately two and half hour of the films running time. The movie has a life trajectory beginning with main character Salim's grandfather's love story in British India Kashmir in 1917 and ends in Independent India's Mumbai in the seventies with Salim's young son. In between the movie is a mess of character's coming in and out of the movie with break neck speed.
The film is fable and a tribute to the Nehruvian (Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's style of politics) India's broken secular promises. Salim is a boy born at the stroke of midnight of India's Independence from British occupation. He is supposed to be the son of Indian Muslim family but is actually the son of a local Mumbai street singer who had affair with a British gentleman during his empire's final days. The street singer dies during child birth. The hospital nurse Mary, because of her social beliefs regarding the nation's so called Independence, decides to switch the newborn son of the poor street singer to the rich born kid of a Muslim couple.
The destinies of the two new born are not only entangled by the switch but also with the gift that they possess along with every other children who are born on the stroke of midnight with a new born nation with promises of its richly diverse population.
Each of those new born children are metaphor for the nation's promises of what it can achieve if those natural gifts are used effectively for better means. They all possess different powers with Salim being able to telepathically communicate with each one of the Midnight's Children. While the couple's real kid who ends up with the husband of the street singer is named Shiva who possesses the powerful destructive powers, while Parvati is a magician who is destined to be Salim's soul mate. Salim's destiny is forever bonded with the nation of his birth and hence we are taken to a journey through modern Indian history.
The source material for the film is a literary classic, so there is no doubt that Miss Mehta has been brought down by the wait of expectations. She gave no space for any character development and the second rate cast does not do any favor to the films flow. Unfortunately, the worst of the lot is the main lead Satya Babha who plays the grown up Salim. A small actor in American sitcom, Satya did not have any facial expression or emotions that could light up even the most well written scenes. He fails to carry the film on his shoulders and makes it a stretch for the audience to continue with the film. The only noteworthy and perfect though stereotypical performance is Seema Biswas's Miss Mary.
Some of the best parts of the novel is the Bangladesh war and Indira Gandhi's emergency days. Unfortunately in the movie version no sense of history is evoked during those sequences and to those who may have very scant knowledge of those events may remain disillusioned.
Miss Mehta mentioned during her introductory speech; how Mr. Rushdie got annoyed when some audience member at Toronto film festival compared the film with Forrest Gump. Even I would be annoyed. Forrest Gump maintained a smooth flow even with its long generational trajectory and allowed character development by concentrating on only the main character rather than his entire family tree. But Midnight's Children ends up becoming a fast paced narration of the novel that deserved a better movie version.
Mr. Rushdie and Miss Mehta spoiled a perfect opportunity to create a memorable journey through modern Indian history and placed this cobbled screen adaption as footnote in their respective careers.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Midnight's Children is a story about India after independence, and how
the hopes for that country materialized for the first generation after
1947. But primarily this is a film about India. It is a sprawling,
complex, epic movie with several themes, including Indian history,
Indian politics, fate, destiny, the relationship between men and women,
and social justice. The film tells us the life story of Saleem Sinai
and his family.
As someone who has not been to India, and has (so far) developed little interest in it, I enjoyed the rich depiction of this exotic and beautiful world. I enjoyed learning more about India and its history. The filmmaker's and writer's love for that country shines through the celluloid.
The first half of the movie, the family drama involving the Sinai family, is the strongest. We follow the events that occur to this family, including the shocking act of two babies being switched at birth. We find out that our protagonist is not really from this family at all. The character development in this part of the movie is excellent. Some scenes from this part will remain with me a long time.
About halfway through, the movie changes direction completely. I had to be dragged along after this because I was truly enjoying the family story and didn't want it to end. I feel it might have been more satisfying to film this as two or three movies, rather than trying to cram it all into one.
Strange, supernatural and symbolic elements are added to the mix. (At this point I'd like to point out that I have not read the book, or any Rushdie novel. I understand this is a feature of his work.)
I have to admit that this aspect did not work that well for me. I suppose it's because this film is mostly realistic, and I thought it was unnecessary.
At times I was quite moved; however, at other times I felt the pathos was laid on a little too thick.
Also, some of the plot, and a few of the scenes, felt unrealistic to me, especially the portrayal of the military and war. Perhaps this was meant to be one of the stylized aspects of the movie. Saleem's immediate relationship with Parvati and his ready acceptance of the child also felt wrong to me.
I thought the acting in this movie was fine, even from the child actors. There are a few truly beautiful women in this movie. It's as if the allure (and suffering) of Indian women was one of the themes. However, Shiva's character felt like a caricature to me.
Satya Bhabha was required to play a most difficult and at times far-fetched role, and essentially had to carry the difficult, more unrealistic half of the movie himself. I think it would have been difficult for anyone to pull it off. They didn't really do a good job transforming him physically so that he actually looked like the victim of an abusive family situation, a coma patient, an amnesiac, a soldier and a war victim. He did not really convey these things well.
I'm so glad they brought Mary back at the end. It would have been unbearable not to know what had become of her.
This movie depicted Indira Gandhi and Muslims in a way that was new to me. That's all I want to say about that. Religion is always in the background, but it does not play much of a role in this movie at all.
This is a movie that makes you think "Let the rich be poor, and the poor rich". (No, this doesn't work out at all.) "You can be whatever you want to be." (As we are shown, also not true.) "India after independence did not turn out the way we wanted, but at least we survived." (But many did not.)
I would recommend this beautiful and passionate movie particularly to anyone who is interested in India and Salman Rushdie's work, and is willing to cope with the length, unevenness and stylized elements. It's worth about 8 in my view, but I'm rounding it down because of these factors.
I haven't read the book. I have heard a lot about it, though. I got an
opportunity to watch it & it was magnificent. So, this review will more
connect with people who HAVEN'T READ THE "BOOKER OF BOOKERS!"
Deepa Mehta's magic works once again after her Elements Trilogy. The topics were bold then. Now the topic is diverse - mostly because with a fountain of genres, Midnight's Children talks about many things... from love to superstitions, from the Partition to the Emergency, from magic to realism... narrated so wonderfully, it enthuses. The last 20 minutes are little boring & staid but the first 100 minutes makes up for a good show.
Performances are brilliant with every single person working beautifully & totally carving a splendid character out of Rusdhie's imagination. Ronit Roy, Bhabha, Goswami, Darsheel Zafary & Rahul Bose are terrific. Music is amusing, screenplay is good and the locations are so genuine with no anachronisms at all, MC marks as another super-hit by the Deepa-Hamilton duo. Certain sequences/ideologies troubled me but since it is all fiction encapsulated in a narrative, I quite enjoyed it. Depiction of sensitive topics is great which is not unusual in a Deepa Mehta film. A lot could be written about it and the best way to know all about it is to watch it.
The tale from the 1940s to the 1970s, with certain twists & turns, beautiful ideas, relationships, empathy, violence, real topics, age- transitions, fights, superstitions, sex, infidelity tiny tidbits and the magic... is enduring. 8.2/10!
BOTTOM LINE: Quite a good, charismatic watch. Not Deepa's magnum opus, though.
MESSAGE: Liberty doesn't come cheap.
Can be watched with a typical Indian family? MAYBE NO.
Profanity: Mild | Nudity: No | Sex: Mediocre | Violence: Critical | Gore: Critical | Alcohol: Strong | Smoking: Mild | Drugs: No
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Went into the theaters not knowing what the film was about. Came out pretty satisfied with midnight's children. Movie was about India gaining independence, and the children born at midnight. Movie had a dash, of drama, suspense, romance , and comedy. The only minus was the length. A well made film with great actors out of the whole i really enjoyed siddarths and shriya sarans performance.. Recommenced for people who want to watch something that is different then the regular mill of film, this film is very different and touches on many subjects that have occurred in India in there past and present history. A highly recommended watch!!!!
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