Midnight’s Children: From scroll to screen
Posted On 4th February, 2013 @ 12:08 pm by Bhargavi Swami

One of the most talked about books of the last two decades in finally available to us in flesh with Deepa Mehta’s version of the Midnight’s Children.

One must truly wonder what a burden Deepa Mehta has carried on her creatively charged self, to try to emulate a book which has won the ‘Booker of Booker’s’ award, apart from the myriad domestic and international accolades that it has received. However, she has not only managed this near impossible feat but has also convinced the author, Salman Rushdie, as well. If that is not all to satiate any ‘Rushdian’, we also having him doing playback for a cleverly composed track by the acclaimed musician Nitin Sawhney.

For any one of us going out there to catch a glimpse of this film, it is highly recommended to bear certain points in mind.

The Midnight’s Children Checklist.

Any book that is transformed into a film will definitely lose out on all the important yet lesser read characters, instances, subplots, settings and the flurry of rich dialogues that are core of our reading experience. Mehta’s Midnight’s Children definitely has some beautiful, ‘picture postcard like’ moments, weaving in a sense of the surrealism with harsh realities of life seasoned with very best drama of politics through the ‘call for emergency’.

The luxury of time and understanding the tiered layering of the plot and subplots, left to unravel at the precise moment by the ‘auteur’ is an experience on its own. Salim and Shiva coming face to face or Parvati magically drawing Shiva to her in the end, is so distinct yet key to the story. Mehta does not have this advantage, however, with seasoned actors like Rajat Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Siddharth Narayan, Shreya Saran and the surprise  that is, Sathya Bhama,  add exactly the right mix of mystery, magic, tension and drama that propels the story forward without giving the viewers a chance to refer back to the pages of the book.

Locations used in the book depict a time and an era that is not visible in present day India as everything has become one high rise tower after another. Hence the filmmaker and crew were forced to shoot in 65 different locations across the SAARC countries to recreate the magic and nostalgia of a bygone era. Many of the revisited spots in the film cut a momentous picture with the cinematography by Giles Nuttgens and the audiences are left not much to complain, as the majority will be those who will remember the 1970’s as depicted in this film!

Being an ardent fan of the book myself, it is hard to be dispassionate about the representation of the book on the silver screen, however as we have whole heartedly accepted the individual co-existence of other masterpieces like ‘PatherPanchali’, ‘Anand Math’ or the more recent, ‘Harry Potter series’, stories of ‘Narnia’, this effort deserves the same adulation.

Midnight’s Children, the story of the birth of two countries and two destinies will always remain timeless and the film will remain etched in the minds of the viewer’s forever.


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