I was really looking forward to this movie right from the day it was announced. After having watched Deepa Mehta’s triology (Fire, Water and Earth) I really believe she is one of the most prolific movie makers of our times who has a unique style of her own. Add to her story-telling the zest of Salman Rushdie’s story and screenplay you have nothing short of magic. Agreed that not many movies have done justice to their novel counterparts as cinema has its own shortcomings of time but with someone as seasoned as Deepa Mehta you expect her to go that extra mile.
Midnight’s Children tells the story about children born at the stroke of Indian independence and how their lives are tangled at various points. We hear the story through the eyes of the main protagonist Saleem Sinai and his journey across the Indian subcontinent. It beautifully stitches the historical events of India post independence to the fictional characters who form the protagonists in the movie.
Rushdie has not only skillfully compressed his sprawling story into a manageable cinematic form but also provides the witty narration which contributes to the film’s considerable charm. From the very first scene, which depict the amusing courtship of Saleem’s grandfather, Dr. Aziz (Rajat Kapoor), and the formation of a family with three very different daughters, the highly individualized characters capture your imagination, as does the quirky dialogues. The hugely populated film has been perfectly cast, with the disarming Darsheel Safary playing Saleem as a boy; attractive and handsome Satya Bhabha taking over as an adult. Seema Biswas is very touching as the family nurse, whose fateful switch of babies—a poor infant to a rich family, and vice-versa—provides the main thrust of the story. Ronit Roy and Shahana Goswami have terrific screen presence as Saleem’s parents. Special mention needs to be made of Shriya Saran and Siddharth who as Parvathy and Shiva play their roles quite superbly. Rahul Bose as usual gets into the skin of the character and delivers a punch through his performance. Deepa Mehta handles the camera in way that you actually enter the world of Saleem and his family. Kudos to her for taking up a successful novel and translating it to a movie. Music by Nitin Sawhney gives you the flavour of India in 60’s and 70’s.
This movie is definitely not for the light-hearted. It hits you hard, pinches you and makes wonder what a genius of a writer Salman Rushdie is. Be it the direction or the performances the movie truly deserves a loud applause as it keeps the viewer engaged right from start to the end. A must watch for all those who want to watch something substantive this weekend!