Saturday, February 2, 2013

Midnight's Children - Movie Review

As I watched 'Midnight's Children' I was surprised that I was able to recount names, sequences and even lines form the book that I read more than a decade ago. Much credit to Salman Rushdie for writing so well. But my memory stopped at a stage when Saleem Sinai starts meeting his extraordinarily talented midnight children, maybe a third into the story. It was then that I blanked out totally. I vaguely remembered Shiva and Parvati the witch, and all else was a blur.

The movie is a visual treat but. The story took off well from Dal lake and the first half moves rapidly, and you wonder at Rushdie's clever plot. The story of a boy whose life is bound to that of India's, both born at the same time and both having the same hopes and expectations pinned upon them. How Saleem Sinai falls from his exalted position, finds out that his life was not really his, and goes back to make peace with a life that is salvaged from whatever is left completes a rather uninteresting part of the story. Once the cleverness ran out, it got boring. Actually once the children grew up, it got boring really. The older Saleem Sinai, Parvati, Shiva - none of them had the energy nor the conviction about them for me to expect anything interesting from them. What the midnight children were up to with their extraordinary powers that cannot save them, why Saleem Sinai does much of what he does with his life did not draw me in. It went by superficially until a lame and abrupt end. Silence.

The story could have worked as a commentary on India's reality up to the time of Emergency and after. Or it could have worked as a story of the extraordinary children. But it does neither. It's rather comic in its treatment which might not have been the right tone for the issues that are portrayed. Disappointing to me. Rushdie's novel was extraordinary for his brilliant writing style and I'd think it would be most difficult to bring his flavour, an overriding component of the book, into the movie. It would have been safer to choose a lesser road, so the story is told at least.

But movie apart what was a first to me was this. For the first fifteen or twenty minutes of the show there were just the three of us, Koni, Ranjan and I, watching the movie - on the first day's first show. The hall filled up to about 50% capacity later on. But watching a show just for us - a bit like Amitabh booking the entire show in Sharaabi - only we did not. Everyone came late. Why would they? I wonder.

1 comment:

Rahul said...

a good and watchable movie... there is a nice direction and good acting...